Mindy Kaling, Kenya Barris, and a few MCU alums lead April’s TV premieres

Clockwise, from left: Never Have I Ever (Photo: Lara Solanki/Netflix), Mrs. America (Photo: Sabrina Lantos/FX), I Know This Much Is True (Photo: Atsushi Nishijima/HBO), The Walking Dead: World Beyond (Photo: Jojo Whilden/AMC), Defending Jacob (Photo: Apple TV+), Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels (Photo: Justin Lubin/Showtime)
Clockwise, from left: Never Have I Ever (Photo: Lara Solanki/Netflix), Mrs. America (Photo: Sabrina Lantos/FX), I Know This Much Is True (Photo: Atsushi Nishijima/HBO), The Walking Dead: World Beyond (Photo: Jojo Whilden/AMC), Defending Jacob (Photo: Apple TV+), Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels (Photo: Justin Lubin/Showtime)

The spring (and possibly summer) movie release schedule might have taken a hit, but TV keeps marching on. This April, several alums of big-screen franchises like The Avengers and Star Wars find their way (in some cases, back) to the small screen to defend their children, undermine our civil liberties, or go on the lam with Merritt Wever. They’re joined by a baker, a beauty, a pair of improvising comedians, and Bob The Drag Queen. As long as the wifi holds, our preview will ensure your cabin fever won’t get the best of you.

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Broke (CBS): premieres April 2

Real life is pretty ugly right now, so it might be refreshing to go back to the kind of extremely straightforward, not-at-all complex sitcom that constitutes the bread and butter of the CBS lineup, and Broke seems like it could be exactly that kind of show. It stars NCIS’ Pauley Perette as a struggling single mom in a very big house whose life gets turned upside-down when her estranged sister (Natasha Leggero) and her husband (Jaime Camil from Jane The Virgin) suddenly have to move in after they lose all of their money. There’s a nice “rich people are weird and out of touch” tone, which is very close to being a very relevant observation, but it also seems like there might be a much better show in here if it were to focus on Camil’s character and his loyal assistant (Izzy Diaz) instead of the sisters. The gag in this trailer about him having a very good memory but not a photographic memory is pretty good; hopefully there’s more of that. [Sam Barsanti]

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Home Before Dark (Apple TV+): premieres April 3

Pop culture has loads of plucky kid detectives, though they’re not generally as young as Brooklynn Prince’s Hilde in Home Before Dark, and the mysteries they’re solving don’t usually seems so grim and haunting. Based on the life of real-life pre-teen journalist Hilde Lysiak (if only to the extent that the main character is a pre-teen journalist named Hilde), the show is about a girl whose family moves back to the hometown of her reporter father (Jim Sturgess), only to find that he left some secrets behind about his connection to a mysterious disappearance, and he’s not necessarily welcome anymore. With his begrudging help, Hilde starts investigating a cold case by skipping school to talk to accused murderers and dropping surprisingly badass lines about how being called “young lady” isn’t actually a compliment. She also tells off a jerk cop (Louis Herthum, best known as Peter Abernathy from Westworld these days) in this trailer, a prerequisite for all plucky kid detective stories. [Sam Barsanti]

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Tales From The Loop (Amazon): premieres April 3

The massive and sudden success of Stranger Things kicked off a whole slate of new Spielberg-riffing properties about kids getting involved with the strange or supernatural. But few leaned heavier on the mystery aspect of these stories than Simon Stålenhag’s art book Tales From The Loop, filled to the brim with wonder-heavy paintings of kids interacting with robots, dinosaurs, and more in a slightly used vision of the future. Having already been adapted into a well-received tabletop RPG, Tales has now also been given the TV treatment, with Legion writer Nathan Halperin penning all eight episodes of the semi-futuristic series. But where Stranger Things goes heavy on the horror, Tales looks to be much more built on awe—a world of curious robots, mysterious beauty, and places where snow sometimes, somehow, falls up. Starring Rebecca Hall and Duncan Joiner, it’s both gentle-looking and a little ominous. [William Hughes]

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Atlanta’s Missing And Murdered: The Lost Children (HBO): premieres April 5

HBO and the Emmy-winning documentary studio Show Of Force shine a light on a tragic and unsettling chapter in Atlanta’s history in the five-part docuseries Atlanta’s Missing And Murdered: The Lost Children. During a two-year stretch between the late ’70s and early ’80s, an unknown killer claimed the lives of 30 Black children and young adults. The city’s populace lived in fear, then seemingly rallied around government and law enforcement officials over the arrest and conviction of Wayne Williams, a former club promoter. But systemic inequalities were exposed along with Williams’ heinous crimes, all of which are explored in Atlanta’s Missing And Murdered, along with the retesting of evidence. Many Atlanta residents, including members of the victims’ families, don’t believe Williams was guilty. The case was recently dramatized in Netflix’s Mindhunter, but this new docuseries, executive produced by John Legend and Jay Z, takes a look at other suspects and leads through unprecedented access to court documents, investigators, and journalists. [Danette Chavez]

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Deadwater Fell (Acorn TV): premieres in the U.S. on April 6

Get ready to get your Broadchurch fix when Daisy Coulam’s Deadwater Fell makes its way Stateside this month. David Tennant continues in the morally compromised vein of Netflix’s Criminal, playing a man who doesn’t escape suspicion when his family is murdered in their own home. As Dr. Tom Kendrick, Tennant once more dons a veneer of respectability, but it begins to crack when his late wife’s friend Jess Milner (Cush Jumbo) looks for answers in her grief. Like Broadchurch, this four-part series explores how a tight-knit community deals with shocking violence and its aftermath. Deadwater Fell is just as eager to reckon with the past, though, as Jess and Kate’s friendship also goes under the microscope. The limited series builds gradually, determinedly to its big conclusion, but Tennant and Jumbo’s performances reveal more than any investigation. [Danette Chavez]

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Run (HBO): premieres April 12

A lot of us make silly, impulsive promises when we’re younger; what HBO’s Run offers is the unusual proposition that some among us might actually stick to those seemingly fanciful propositions. The eight-part series stars Domhnall Gleeson and Merritt Wever as former college lovers who fulfill a 17-years-earlier promise to drop everything and meet each other on a cross-country train if they both respond to the other’s single-word text: “RUN.” As they reunite and begin to untangle each others’ complicated life stories, questions start to arise about why each of them showed up and if they’re really telling one another the truth. That’s an intriguing setup, but it’s the behind-the-scenes talent—Run is exec-produced by Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge (who also has a recurring role) and created by Waller-Bridge’s frequent collaborator Vicky Jones—that has us running to check this one out. [Alex McLevy]

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Belgravia (Epix): premieres April 12

For all the class tensions and repressed feelings present in his series, there’s something rather comforting about Julian Fellowes’ oeuvre—maybe it’s just the fact that we can always count on seeing clever women, gorgeous costume and set design, and reformed cads. But with Belgravia, Fellowes is trying to recapture the spirit and sprawling cast of a Charles Dickens tale rather than Downton Abbey. The modern-day chronicler of interclass conflict and the vapors has adapted his own literary work, which he published in installments as Dickens once did, for this limited Epix series. Starring Tamsin Grieg, Alice Eve, and Tom Wilkinson, Belgravia is part wartime romance, part eulogy for an epoch past. [Danette Chavez]

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The Baker And The Beauty (ABC): premieres April 13

Based on an Israeli series, ABC’s new sitcom offers yet another entry into the “regular guy lands fantasy woman” category. Miami baker Daniel Garcia (Victor Rasuk) somehow gets picked up by international superstar Noa Hamilton (Nathalie Kelley) after a public and humiliating breakup. Noa’s attention and Daniel’s entry into the paparazzi spotlight helps boost his Cuban American family’s bakery, which he runs with his parents and siblings. The brief trailer fails to hint at anything actually intriguing past the inevitable culture clashes over whether he can live in her world and she can live in his, etc., etc., ad nauseam. But the stunning Hamilton, who recently played Cristal in The CW reboot of Dynasty, offers an intriguing, enigmatic version of the beauty character, which may bode well for the couple chemistry this series depends on. After all, ABC is billing it as part of a “date night” lineup with the latest Bachelor spinoff: Listen To Your Heart—alongside that, The Baker And The Beauty might look pretty good in comparison. [Gwen Ihnat]

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Mrs. America (FX on Hulu): premieres April 15; three episodes available at premiere

FX on Hulu’s grand drama about one woman’s fight against second-wave feminism already touts one of the best ensembles in recent years. Mrs. America stars Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly, the real-life conservative woman who stood against the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Blanchett alone is enough of a powerhouse to ramp up excitement; adding Rose Byrne, Sarah Paulson, Margo Martindale, Uzo Aduba, John Slattery, and appearances from James Marsden and Niecy Nash (to name only a few!) makes it an embarrassment of riches. The product of predominantly female talent—including writer and executive producer Dahvi Waller of Desperate Housewives and Mad Men—culminates in the kind of distinct, sprawling storytelling that most have to come to expect from FX. Mrs. America will undoubtedly pull double-duty as an evergreen story about the battle for inequality and a suitable escape from reality via unmitigated star power. [Shannon Miller]

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#blackAF (Netflix): premieres April 17

Black-ish creator Kenya Barris has certainly drawn from his own life in telling the story of the Johnson family in his ABC sitcom, now in its sixth season. But for #blackAF, his new Netflix comedy, Barris digs deeper still into his own history—he even plays a heightened version of himself alongside co-executive producer and co-star Rashida Jones. The Angie Tribeca star plays Barris’ wife Joya, a biracial woman raising six kids while being held to the same standard as her husband when it comes to living up to the show’s title. Barris says he aims to “flip the script” on the family sitcom with #blackAF, but also promises that we’ll get the same insights on parenting, relationships, race, and culture that Black-ish has yielded throughout the years. Guest stars include Nia Long, Ava DuVernay, Issa Rae, and Kym Whitley, which reminds us that the show was once dubbed Black Excellence. [Danette Chavez]

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Middleditch & Schwartz (Netflix): premieres April 21

Buddies and comedians Ben Schwartz and Thomas Middleditch team up for a trio of improv comedy specials as Middleditch & Schwartz. Following the postponing of the Netflix Is A Joke festival, at which they were scheduled to perform, the duo is putting up three distinct specials on Netflix, all wholly improvised and filmed before a New York audience. The premises for specials—titled Dream Job, Law School Magic, and Parking Lot Wedding—range from workplace ennui to fantastical voyages to nuptials in the asphalt. Stream all three on April 21 and remember what a live audience sounds like. [Danette Chavez]

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We’re Here (HBO): premieres April 23

RuPaul’s Drag Race alums Bob The Drag Queen (the winnah of season eight), Shangela Laquifa Wadley, and Eureka O’Hara work some makeover magic in HBO’s We’re Here. The premise of this six-part unscripted series is pretty straightforward: Bob, Shangela, and Eureka travel by extravagant caravan to a small town, where they recruit residents to be their drag daughters. Like Queer Eye’s Fab Five, these fabulous mentors offer some life coaching along with lessons on taping, tucking, and stomping on the runway. Sure, We’re Here is a bit reminiscent of the Drag Race episodes in which contestants are asked to mold a friend, lover, or family member into a member of their drag family. But while bonding with strangers, this trio proves that “drag is empowerment.” [Danette Chavez]

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Defending Jacob (Apple TV+): premieres April 24

Chris Evans decisively shed his squeaky clean Avenger image last year in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, but Defending Jacob offers the former Captain America a chance to combine his heroic instincts with something more vulnerable, more flawed—more human. Based on the William Landay novel of the same name, Defending Jacob stars Evans as Andy Barber, an assistant district attorney in a small Massachusetts town who must reconcile his life’s work with his family life when his son, the eponymous Jacob (Jaeden Martell), is accused of murdering a classmate. Series creator Mark Bomback and director Morten Tyldum explore intergenerational trauma, small-town politics, and dark secrets in this meditative Apple TV+ series that also stars Michelle Dockery, Pablo Schreiber, Cherry Jones, Sakina Jaffrey, and J.K. Simmons. [Danette Chavez]

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Bad Education (HBO): premieres April 25

Film festival audiences (remember those?) got a crash course in Cory Finley’s Bad Education last year, but HBO paid a hefty price to bring the high drama and dark comedy to cable viewers at home. Hugh Jackman stars in this ripped-from-the-headlines tale as Dr. Frank A. Tassone, superintendent of the Roslyn School District in Long Island and architect of the greatest public school embezzlement scandal in U.S. history. Tassone is aided in his scheming by Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney) while a plucky teen reporter (Geraldine Viswanathan) works to unravel the malfeasance. In a TIFF dispatch, film editor A.A. Dowd wrote that Bad Education “gets some real dramatic juice out of what became a national story, largely by building itself around a compelling personality”—namely, Tassone’s. Jackman’s “intelligent and complicated” performance has been generating Emmy buzz since HBO nabbed the rights, though he might have to wait longer than usual to start campaigning. [Danette Chavez]

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Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels (Showtime): premieres April 26

Leaving behind Victorian England for the colorful splash and commotion of 1930s Los Angeles, the universe of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful gets a little bigger with this new iteration of supernatural goings-on amid the rapid industrialization of the West Coast’s biggest city. City Of Angels looks to ground its fantastical elements with a very human mystery, as detective Lewis Michener (Nathan Lane) and his rookie partner Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto) try to get to the bottom of some gruesome murders, seemingly linked to the racial violence being visited upon the city’s Mexican American population. The actual historical troubles highlighted already give this show a very different tenor than its predecessor, one more concerned with the sociopolitical intrigue of the era—that is, until Natalie Dormer shows up as a shape-shifting demon, windows exploding behind her as she walks down the street, and you just know things are about to get wild. [Alex McLevy]

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I Know This Much Is True (HBO): premieres April 26

It might be a limited series, but Derek Cianfrance’s adaptation of Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True has all the gut-wrenching potential of network tearjerkers like This Is Us. Mark Ruffalo stars opposite himself as Dominick and Thomas Birdsey, twin brothers who try desperately to cling to each other even as family trauma and mental illness threaten to tear them apart. It’s a tale of “betrayal, sacrifice, and forgiveness” that also stars Melissa Leo—as the twins’ mother—Kathryn Hahn, Archie Panjabi, Rosie O’Donnell, Imogen Poots, and Juliette Lewis. If you couldn’t already tell from that description, don’t expect the cast or Cianfrance, who directed 2010’s Blue Valentine, to take it easy on your emotions. [Danette Chavez]

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Never Have I Ever (Netflix): premieres April 27

After conquering Amazon (Late Night) and Hulu (Four Weddings And A Funeral), apparent content factory Mindy Kaling moves on to Netflix for her coming-of-age show Never Have I Ever. The 10-episode series features Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Kaling stand-in Devi, an emotional sophomore in the San Fernando Valley who pleads with her Hindu gods for an invite to a drugs-and-alcohol party (“I’m not going to do them; I just want the opportunity to say, ‘No cocaine for me, thanks. I’m good.’”), a sports-minded boyfriend, and less arm hair. Devi’s self-deprecations and Ramakrishnan’s inflections in the teaser mirror Kaling so much, this show is like The Mindy Project In Development, especially since it looks like Devi will also nurse a few crushes, Mindy-style. The Netflix description advises that the show will be “sentimental,” “heartfelt,” and “quirky,” all elements we’ve come to expect from Kaling’s near-nonstop output. [Gwen Ihnat]

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What We Do In The Shadows (Photo: FX); Vida
What We Do In The Shadows (Photo: FX); Vida
Photo: Starz

Returning shows

Future Man, third and final season; Harley Quinn, season two (4/3); The Good Fight, season four (4/9); Insecure, season four; Killing Eve, season three (4/12); What We Do In The Shadows, season two (4/15); Vida, third and final season (4/26)

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