The sun is shining. The birds are singing. And vaccinations are in the air (well, or something like that).
As we begin to come out of one of the most difficult periods in our history, TV remains our mainstay. During a time when so much was uncertain, TV was the constant we could count on. When everything was shut down, Netflix still had a plethora of new and returning shows to premiere. The industry came to a halt but new streaming platforms like HBO Max and Paramount+ still launched. May used to be a month ripe with season and series finales, as television platforms—for the most part—took the summer off. Although traditional networks still schedule to those same beats, the dog days of summer repeats are far behind us. TV is here for us 12 months a year, 24 hours a day.
This month Paste TV will be taking a look at the new Tina Fey produced comedy Girls5Eva premiering May 6 on Peacock and Barry Jenkins’ The Underground Railroad, which debuts on Amazon Prime on May 14. We also be talking about the new season of AppleTV+’s Trying (May 21), the return of HBO’s In Treatment (May 23) and the final season of Hulu’s Shrill (May 7).
But, as always, we don’t want you to miss a single great show. Here are the five new under-the-radar shows you can’t miss this month:
Executive Producers: Noel Clarke, Jason Maza, Alexandra Stone, Catriona Mckenzie
Stars:Jill Halfpenny, Jonas Armstrong, Rupert Penry-Jones and Cody Molko
Premiere Date: May 6 on Sundance Now and Acorn TV
Jill Halfpenny stars as Jodie Walsh, a woman who has struggled to rebuild her life after her four-year-old son Tom vanished. Since his disappearance, she and her husband Jason (Jonas Armstrong) have divorced, and her relationship with her family has fractured. Nine years after that fateful day, on her way to make a pitch to a client, Jodie spots 13-year-old Daniel (Cody Molko) on his way to school. She’s convinced Daniel is her missing son. Soon she’s infiltrating her way into Daniel’s life while trying to discover the truth of what happened to her only child. Already a hit in England, all four episodes will be available when the show debuts on May 6. Once you start watching, we don’t think you’ll be able to stop.
Executive Producers: Paul W. Downs, Lucia Aniello, Jen Statsky
Stars: Jean Smart, Hannah Einbinder, Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Kaitlin Olson, Christopher McDonald, and Paul W. Downs
Premiere Date: May 13 on HBO Max
One thing that will always be true about television: If Jean Smart is involved, you know it’s going to be good. Smart, who can also be seen this month on HBO’s Mare of Easttown, stars as Deborah Vance, a comedian who headlines a long-running show in Las Vegas. Deborah’s got a QVC channel, a Rolls Royce she rotates out every few years, an ungrateful daughter (Kaitlin Olson), and a penchant for wearing caftans and collecting random and very expensive antiques. But her jokes are no longer cutting edge and her ticket sales are on the decline. Enter Ava (Hannah Einbinder) an up-and-coming comedy writer who keeps getting herself into trouble with her extremely politically incorrect jokes. Ava needs a job. Deborah needs to stay relevant. Can these two women help each other out? Two episodes of this 10-episode series will premiere every Thursday until the season finale on June 10.
Executive Producers: Alex Stapleton, Danny Gabai, Kama Kaina, Stacy Scripter, Christine Vachon, Sydney Foos
Premiere Date: May 14 at 8 p.m. on FX
This six-episode series uses six different LGBTQ+ filmmakers to tell the story of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement from the 1950s until today. Among the changemakers the series highlights are Civil Rights pioneer Bayard Rustin, writer Audre Lorde, and Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay Senator. First up, director Tom Kalin looks at the 1950s and Senator Joseph McCarthy’s repugnant push for government regulation and persecution against the queer community. In the series’ third episode, director Cheryl Dunye looks towards the 1970s, which saw the first Gay Pride march and the backlash from the religious right. The series concludes with an episode directed by Ro Haber, and takes viewers all the way to the present day and the fight for trans rights.
Executive Producers: Leigh Davenport, Yvette Lee Bowser
Stars: Amber Stevens West, Andrea Bordeaux, Bresha Webb, and Corbin Reid
Premiere Date: May 16 at 8:30 p.m. on Starz
Living Single, which ran from 1993-1998 on FOX, is one of TV’s most beloved comedies and one of the first series to celebrate and showcase the lives of Black women. Now Living Single creator Yvette Lee Bowser is executive producing Run the World which follows four single Black women navigating their careers, friendships, and romances in Harlem. The series was filmed on location in Harlem, and Amber Stevens West—who was so delightful in Greek and The Carmichael Show—stars as Whitney, a perfectionist who realizes she has not been paying enough attention to her love life. The series is created by Leigh Davenport (Boomerang).
Executive Producers: Robert and Michelle King
Stars: Audra McDonald, Taylor Schilling, Steven Pasquale, Will Swenson, Phillipa Soo, and Leslie Uggams
Premiere Date: May 21 on Spectrum
Maybe the husband and wife team behind Evil and The Good Fight didn’t think viewers were stressed out enough. We’ve had a lot of TV series tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, but never one quite like this. Rachel (Audra McDonald) is a doctor living in New York City spending her days doing tele-visits, while her husband Zach (Steven Pasquale) is in Washington, D.C. working for the CDC. Rachel’s upstairs neighbor Lily (Taylor Schilling) continues her dominatrix business virtually. When one of Rachel’s patients is bitten by a grocery clerk at Trader Joe’s, Rachel soon realizes this latest variant of the virus is more concerning than anyone could have known. Keep an eye out for the Kings’ trademark skewering of pop culture. The six-episode series is reminiscent of the Kings’ excellent but short-lived BrainDead, but even more relevant now.
Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal®, is a Boston-based freelance writer and a member of the Television Critics Association. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter (@AmyTVGal).
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