Queer Eye, Da 5 Bloods, Athlete A
Anthony Bourdain’s death in 2018 left a massive hole in the food world. Gladly, he lives on in his inquisitive programmes, with all 12 seasons of this groundbreaking travelogue making a welcome return to screens this month. It sees the former chef travel everywhere from Libya to Borneo, Vietnam to New York, sampling culinary delights while getting to grips with a myriad of cultures.
The Fab Five return from their Japanese sojourn to share their patented brand of positivity and aesthetic expertise with the lucky inhabitants of Philadelphia. For this fifth season, the group transform the lives of a pastor coming to terms with his sexuality, a young woman who is insecure about her height, and an overwhelmed new mother. Expect very useful redesigns from Bobby, French tucks from Tan and not-so useful cooking demonstrations from Antoni, as well as Karamo providing the inevitable tears.
Start your engines: series five of the hit reality spinoff, which sees former contestants compete for a place in the Drag Race Hall of Fame, is being aired a day after its US broadcast, which means no more avoiding spoilers on Twitter. Fan favourites set to return include Shea Coulee, Miz Cracker and Jujubee, and there's a secret new twist promised to be ‘the biggest shake-up in herstory’.
Still barred from basic liberties under Jim Crow, many black Americans did not want to fight for their country in the Vietnam war, including – famously – Muhammad Ali. But what of the people who did join the US army, only to find themselves still mistreated both during and after the war? Spike Lee’s latest, starring Chadwick Boseman, considers one such tale, as he ventures outside of the white norms of the Vietnam war movie canon.
Ben Platt returns as the frighteningly ambitious Payton Hobart, in the second season of Ryan Murphy’s melodrama. With the chaotic high school president election long lost, Hobart now has his heart set on the gubernatorial race against incumbent Dede Standish (Judith Light) and her formidable chief of staff Hadassah Gold (Bette Midler). He has his work cut out, but it’s nothing that the usual lies, backstabbing and manipulation can’t solve.
Absurdist comic Eric Andre has his sights on the big leagues with his first Netflix stand up special. Filmed in New Orleans last year, it sees him takes aim at drugs, political correctness and relationships, with a touch of the surreal never far from the surface.
Larry Nassar’s string of crimes against young American gymnasts is among the biggest sex abuse scandals in the history of sport. This documentary tells the disturbing story of the former doctor who molested those in his care, the Indianapolis Star reporters who broke the story, and the gymnasts themselves - including Maggie Nichols, the whistleblower also known as ‘Athlete A’.
Eurovision superfan Will Ferrell has been developing this film on the gloriously camp singing contest for the past five years, its release now serving as a worthy replacement for the cancelled 2020 edition of the show. Ferrell stars alongside Rachel McAdams as Iceland’s entry into this fictional version of Eurovision, the Fire Saga duo, who face stiff competition from the likes of Demi Lovato’s Katiana, as well as caustic criticism from Graham Norton. Will they avoid nil points?
The third and final season of the time-twisting German drama finally arrives to reveal all the secrets of Winden. Lazy comparisons with Stranger Things abounded when the series first arrived, but with its missing children, multiple timelines and a cast of questionable characters, Dark has proven to be something far more exciting.
Alex Rider, El Presidente
Anthony Horowitz’s bestselling teen spy novels get a small-screen adaptation, with Otto Farrant starring as the eponymous student who unwittingly finds himself in espionage training. Based on the second book, Point Blanc, we join Rider as he goes undercover in a French boarding school to investigate the death of his uncle, soon discovering an insidious plot at hand. A light-hearted romp for both kids and adults.
In 2015, an enormous corruption scandal rocked the already controversy-plagued world of international football. This eight-part drama – created by Oscar winner Armando Bó – focuses on small-time Chilean club president Sergio Jadue, who went on to become a key player in a $150m bribery case that almost brought down the boardroom of Fifa.
Rebel Wilson hosts this new competition, which sees 10 professional comics try to keep a straight face while making their fellow contestants laugh. Described by its makers as a “first-of-its-kind comedy social experiment”, a big-money prize of $100,000 gives this contest the potential to rise above any pseudoscience and gimmickry.
The Other One, I May Destroy You, Sitting In Limbo
Lauren Sorcha and Ellie White star as two sisters, both named Catherine, who are unaware of each other’s existence until their father dies, in Holly Walsh’s brilliant, moving comedy. Will polar opposites Cathy (White) and Cat (Sorcha) find any common ground? And will their equally different mums, played by Rebecca Front and Siobhan Finneran, see eye to eye?
Creator and star of Channel 4’s riotous Chewing Gum, Michaela Coel has a flair for weird, wonderful comedy. I May Destroy You has its moments of levity, too, however it is a very different proposition, exploring the insidious nature of sexual assualt in a powerful, genre-defying fashion. Paapa Essiedu and Weruche Opia also lead what has the potential to be a huge hit.
The Windrush scandal has devastated the lives of thousands of Caribbean migrants who believed themselves to be fully legal citizens of the UK, having been born in former Commonwealth countries and, in many cases, invited to work in institutions such as the NHS. The human impact of scandal is under the spotlight in Stephen S Thompson’s disquieting drama, based on the injustice suffered by his own brother, Anthony.
Best of the rest
Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Succession, Hillary
Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard is one of the brains behind this animated musical centring on the whimsical Tillermans family who live in New York’s Central Park and spend their time fending off hotel heiress Bitsy Brandenham (Stanley Tucci), who wants to turn their home into a new development. Frozen’s Josh Gad also stars in a heartwarming show packed with Bouchard’s classic combination of dry humour and emotional depth.
Joss Whedon’s cult fantasy series, which propelled Sarah Michelle Gellar into the big leagues, arrives in full on All4. Gellar plays the titular Chosen One, destined to erase the forces of evil from in and around Sunnydale High with help from a motley crew armed with brains, brawn and endearingly dated fashion choices. As both a nostalgic rewatch or an addictive first viewing, this is a guaranteed binge.
Kleenex at the ready: Apple’s new biographical series features inspirational figures and letters of praise and thanks from people whose lives they’ve touched. Oprah, Steve Wonder, Gloria Steinem, Spike Lee and, er, Big Bird are among the figures in the spotlight in the docuseries, based, interestingly, on an Apple ad campaign.
As we reach the peak of lockdown-fuelled familial discontent, what could be a better accompaniment than both seasons of HBO’s family feud drama, which are available to stream once again? Sit back and enjoy as Brian Cox’s foul-mouthed baritone Logan Roy teaches you how to play Boar on the Floor, or cower in fear as the Roy siblings become increasingly bloodthirsty in their quest for their inheritance. With the third season on hold, this is the perfect time to watch, or rewatch, Jesse Armstrong’s hilarious, terrifying and worryingly realistic hit.
The girls at the heart of New York’s skateboarding scene inspired filmmaker Crystal Moselle to make her acclaimed 2018 film Skate Kitchen. It’s a world she revisits for this naturalistic new TV spinoff, which manages to be spiky, youthful and authentic without compromising on the diverse, queer feminism of its “betties”.
She was the presidential candidate with more than a bit of experience in handling White House crises; he was the reality star from another world and, arguably, another planet. Nanette Burstein’s four-part documentary takes us way back in the life of Hillary Rodham Clinton - all the way to her childhood and Yale in fact - but the main draw here is still that infamous presidential campaign.
This tender coming of age tale from Dutch writers Maud Wiemeijer and Valerie Bisscheroux follows Anne (Hanna van Vliet), who has just moved into her first apartment in Amsterdam when she bumps into her first girlfriend Lily (Eline van Gils), causing them to reminisce about their coming out and love affairs along the way. Initially released as a web series, this is the first chance to see the show on TV in the UK
Hot on the heels of last year’s Helen Mirren-starring Catherine The Great, The Favourite writer Tony McNamara has penned this outrageous miniseries based on the life of the Russian monarch. Starring Elle Fanning as the uncompromising and capricious Catherine, married to her immature husband Peter (Nicolas Hoult), it plays out like a historical bacchanalia; all excess and extravagance underpinned by Hoult and Fannings’ feisty performances.
The drama based on the work of hallowed yet anonymous author Elena Ferrante returns for a second series, following the friendship between Lenu and Lila as they leave their impoverished upbringing in Naples for education and material riches respectively. Style bolsters substance, as we move into the swinging 60s.
HBO’s latest limited series is an origin story of classic TV lawman Perry Mason, the subject of Hollywood’s first-ever one-hour TV show and still an enduring TV protagonist. Here, Matthew Rhys plays the man himself, battling for justice in 1930s Los Angeles, and whose “relentless pursuit of the truth reveals a fractured city”. Orphan Black shapeshifter Tatiana Maslany and John Lithgow also star.
Issa Rae’s hit dramedy about black millennial life has been a huge hit for its star and creator, with a fifth series on the way. Before then, season four makes its way to UK screens, with that central friendship between Molly and Issa under considerable pressure, and Issa’s ex Lawrence finally finding his groove. www.theguardian.com