10 of the best TV shows to watch this May
(Image credit: Apple TV+)
Including the fourth instalment of Stranger Things, a new Sally Rooney adaptation and a comedy with Mike Myers in eight roles, Amy Charles chooses May’s unmissable shows to watch and stream.
(Credit: BBC/Element Pictures/Hulu/Enda Bowe)
1. Conversations with Friends
Following the critically acclaimed BBC series Normal People (2020), comes this adaptation of Sally Rooney’s first novel. Hitting similar narrative beats – friendship, love and sex in modern Ireland – the story centres on best friends Frances (newcomer Alison Oliver) and Bobbi (American Honey’s Sasha Lane), and their relationship with married couple Melissa (Jemima Kirke) and Nick (Joe Alwyn). Normal People director Lenny Abrahamson and writer Alice Birch are reunited for this series, so here’s hoping for a return of the emotionally-wrought on-screen magic the pair previously created. Watch the trailer here.
Conversations with Friends premiers on 15 May on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer in the UK, and on Hulu in the US
2. The Essex Serpent
Tom Hiddleston (Loki) and Claire Danes (Homeland) star in this adaptation of Sarah Perry’s award-winning novel. Set in Victorian England, widow Cora Seaborne (Danes) moves to marshy Essex, looking into reports of a mythical sea serpent. She attracts the attention of the village’s vicar (Hiddleston), but is blamed for tragedy when the creature strikes. Directed by Clio Barnard (Ali & Ava, The Selfish Giant), and adapted for the screen by Anna Symon (Mrs Wilson), The New York Times called Perry’s novel “lush and fantastical… part ghost story and part natural history lesson, part romance and part feminist parable”. If the trailer is anything to go by, expect luscious scenery, brooding romance and creepy goings-on.
The Essex Serpent premieres with two episodes on 13 May, with the rest released weekly thereafter, on Apple TV+
3. Stranger Things 4
It’s been a while since we heard from our favourite gang of teens in 1980s Indiana, but the international sensation is back for its fourth – and penultimate – season. Spoiler alert: skip to the next entry to avoid season three recaps and trailer reveals for season four. At the end of the third season, we learned of an unnamed American in a Russian Gulag – we now know that’s the presumed-dead Hopper (David Harbour). Will (Noah Schnapp) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) have left Hawkins, after the town was decimated by the battle, with Will’s mum Joyce (Winona Ryder) and brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton). The group of youngsters are now in high school, so are contending with those pressures along with the whole potentially world-ending Demogorgons and Upside Down stuff. In a letter to fans, showrunners the Duffer Brothers revealed the run time will be nearly twice the length of any previous season and will be released in two volumes. So strap yourself in for a lengthy nostalgia trip as we ride again with the Hawkins crew. Watch the trailer here.
Stranger Things 4 Volume I is released on 27 May, and Volume II is released on 1 July, on Netflix
(Credit: Rebecca Brenneman/FX)
Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire, has teamed up with Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet screenwriter Craig Pearce for this adaptation of Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones’ memoir. A six-part limited series, it’s set across the band’s tumultuous and revolutionary three years. Toby Wallace (Babyteeth) is Jones, and other starry names in the cast include Westworld’s Talulah Riley as Vivienne Westwood, Game of Thrones’s Maisie Williams as punk icon Jordan and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (The Queen’s Gambit) playing Malcolm McLaren. The series isn’t without controversy, with the real-life John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) losing a court battle to bar the band’s music from being used in the series. The Guardian called Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol – the book the series is adapted from – “often eye-wateringly funny” and “a delight”. Watch the teaser here.
Pistol is released on 31 May on Hulu in the US and Disney+ in the UK
5. The Staircase
True-crime afficionados will recognise this title from the 2004 French documentary series – and later the 2018 Netflix docu-series – about the trial of Michael Peterson, who was accused of murdering his wife, Kathleen, in 2001. This new limited series, which is adapted from the original documentary, stars Colin Firth and Toni Colette as the couple. Speaking to Vanity Fair about getting into this complex role, Firth said: “I very much wanted to err toward finding my own interpretation… partly because I don’t really feel I have answers.” And the series seems to trade off that uncertainty, which has made the case so compelling to true-crime fans. As Collider’s Carly Lanes writes: “There’s no successful interrogation of the truth, only the circumstances surrounding the truth itself – but that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a compelling watch in the undertaking.” Watch the trailer here.
The first three episodes of The Staircase are released on 5 May, with the rest released weekly thereafter, on HBO Max in the US, and on Sky Atlantic/ Now in the UK
A well-known figure from 1980s and 90s Los Angeles, Angelyne placed billboards of herself around the city, arguably becoming one of the first people to be famous for being famous. With her instantly recognisable look and bright pink cars, Angelyne became a popular presence around town. “I’ve signed thousands of autographs,” she told the LA Times in 1995, “Everyone knows who I am. I’m famous for the magic I possess”. In the 2017 article that inspired this new series, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that she “single-handedly created and then inhabited a modern myth of LA”. Now, a limited series will explore the hidden world of Angelyne, starring Emmy Rossum (Shameless) in the titular role. The rest of the cast include Martin Freeman (Fargo), Alex Karpovsky (Girls) and Lukas Gage (The White Lotus), in what looks set to be a neon-pink mediation on the meaning of celebrity. Watch the trailer here.
Angelyne is released on 19 May on Peacock in the US
(Credit: Nikola Predovic / Netflix)
“If I couldn’t be the best at being best… I’d sure as hell be the best at being the worst,” says Clark Olofsson (Bill Skarsgård) in the NSFW trailer for this new limited Swedish-language series. Olofsson is a notorious Swedish criminal, who was part of the six-day siege that gave rise to the phrase “Stockholm Syndrome“, and is famous in his home country for being convicted of numerous crimes. Adapted from Olofsson’s autobiography, Jonas Åkerlund (Lords of Chaos) directs this larger-than-life true-crime caper, which he described as “the story about the most politically incorrect man, who lived the most politically incorrect life”. Skarsgård in the lead is best known for his creepy portrayal of Pennywise in the It films, and his younger self is played by his half-brother Kolbjörn Skarsgård.
Clark is released on 5 May on Netflix
(Credit: Disney/ Lucasfilm)
8. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Set 10 years on from Revenge of the Sith, we re-join Obi-Wan Kenobi living out his exile on desert planet Tatooine. When he was first introduced to the world in A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Alec Guinness), had been living a seemingly quiet life as a hermit on the planet. Now fans finally get to see what he was up to in that desolate location, and it looks a lot more action-packed than we may have been led to believe. Ewan McGregor – who took on the role in the prequel trilogy – reprises his performance as Obi-Wan, and Hayden Christensen returns as Darth Vader, with Moses Ingram (The Tragedy of Macbeth), Joel Edgerton (Rocketman), Kumail Nanjiani (Eternals) and Benny Safdie (Good Time) joining the cast. Deborah Chow – who directed two episodes of The Mandalorian – takes the helm on this series, and after the lukewarm reception for The Book of Boba Fett, they’ll surely be hoping that this Star Wars saga catches on. Watch the trailer here.
Obi-Wan Kenobi premiers on 25 May on Disney+
9. The Time Traveler’s Wife
Audrey Niffenegger’s blockbuster science-fiction romance novel has already been adapted once. The 2009 film, starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana was a box office success, despite being widely panned by critics. This new adaptation splits the book into six episodes, and stars Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) and Theo James (the Divergent films) in the lead roles of Clare and Henry. Henry is born with a genetic condition that causes involuntary time travel, meaning that he disappears without notice (or his clothes), and knows much more than Clare does about the fate of their relationship. Adapted by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, Sherlock) and directed by Emmy-winning Game of Thrones director David Nutter, Moffat told EW that the audience will have to pay attention to the series to be rewarded. Watch the trailer here.
The Time Traveler’s Wife is released on 15 May on HBO Max in the US, and 16 May on Sky Atlantic/Now in the UK
10. The Pentaverate
If you’ve ever watched So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993) and thought “this needs a spin-off TV series, nearly 30 years later!” then you’re in luck. The Pentaverate – created by and starring Mike Myers in eight roles – is about a five-person secret society that influences the world, and the Canadian journalist who’s trying to expose the truth. Star of the film, Debi Mazar, returns in a new role, and the rest of this comedy’s cast is brimming with stars, including Jennifer Saunders (playing two parts), Ken Jeong (Community), Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele), Richard McCabe (A Very British Scandal) and Lydia West (It’s a Sin). Expect silliness of the highest order. Watch the teaser here.
The Pentaverate is released on 5 May on Netflix
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