Netflix: 10 of the best new shows and films to watch in April

After Life’s second season and a new Mindy Kaling sitcom are among the latest arrivals

The official trailer for #blackAF, starring Kenya Barris and Rashida Jones. Video: Netflix

 

Kim’s Convenience – Season 4 (April 1st)

For those in need of a Schitt’s Creek replacement, Kim’s Convenience offers the same genial humour and light-hearted laughs as its fellow Canadian show. Now on its fourth season (there’s plenty to binge on) it chronicles the day-to-day running of a local grocery shop by a Korean immigrant family. The oversized characters, from the acerbic matriarch to the tempestuous Mr Kim and their despairing, savvy children, may be standard sitcom fare, but the stories that centre on their eccentric customers and recognisable social tensions are quietly astute.

Charming and warm-hearted, Kim’s Convenience possesses a cheerful spirit that seems out of step with most modern sitcoms but is a salve for weary souls exhausted by the latest confounding prestige offering. 

Love, Wedding, Repeat (April 10th)

This remake of the sweet 2012 French rom-com Plan de Table tells the story of Jack (Sam Clafin), who in a bid to make his little sister’s wedding day run smoothly must avoid an obstacle course of potential calamities, including an angry ex-girlfriend, an uninvited guest intent on ruining the day, a misplaced sleeping pill and the distracting presence of the girl of his dreams (Olivia Munn).

What sets this apart from your average wedding-based rom-com is the Sliding Doors-esque aspect which sees three different versions of the day unfold. With a supporting cast that includes Aisling Bea, Freida Pinto and People Just Do Nothing’s Allan Mustafa, it’s a fresh take on a tired concept.

The Innocence Files (April 15th)

Another addition to Netflix’s ever-expanding library of true-crime documentaries, The Innocence Files is a journey through the American justice system as it follows the complex cases of eight individuals in their pursuit to be exonerated. Produced and directed by influential documentary-makers Liz Garbus (What Happened, Miss Simone?, Bobby Fischer Against the World) and Alex Gibney (Going Clear, Enron), it’s an unsparing look at the many lives torn apart by wrongful convictions, as well as an account of the tireless work of nonprofit agencies like the Innocence Project and the Innocence Network. 

Too Hot to Handle (April 17th)

Following on from the now bizarrely prescient cultural sensation that was Love Is Blind, Nostradamus Netflix has once again managed to come up with a remarkably prophetic dating show. Too Hot to Handle is an attempt to capture Temptation Island/Love Island devotees, with its familiar premise of packing generic-looking hotties off to a remote paradise location to get to know each other, the Covid-19-conscious twist being that the potential couplings are not allowed to touch their prospective partner.

The show encourages these new relationships to blossom on a “deeper” level without letting physical contact take over, and, of course, there’s a cash prize of $100,000 for the couple who keeps things clean for the duration of the show; however, this bounty will slowly start to decrease if things heat up. Expect Channel 4 to adapt this idea and turn it into a Love in the Time of Corona documentary, exposing all the passionate DM slides from potential suitors and random Houseparty app chats that have developed over the past few weeks.  

#blackAF (April 17th)

Kenya Barris and Rashida Jones in #blackAF. Photograph: Netflix
Kenya Barris and Rashida Jones in #blackAF. Photograph: Netflix

Created by Black-ish showrunner Kenya Barris and starring Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation, Angie Tribeca), this spirited series promises to transform the family sitcom with a raw, uncompromising portrayal of modern parenting, relationships, race and culture. Inspired by Barris’s forthright attitude and his dynamic approach to life, the show will also feature the writer in his acting debut. 

Sergio (April 17th)

Based on the life of charismatic UN diplomat Sérgio Vieira de Mello (Wagner Moura), this biopic follows him as he prepares to make significant changes to his life, pulling back from political work to be with his partner, Argentinian UN economic adviser Carolina Larriera (Ana de Armas). During this process he reluctantly agrees to a final assignment in war-torn Baghdad.

When a bomb blast traps him within the rubble of the UN headquarters, he is forced to ruminate on his actions and the effects that his decisions have had on others. Sergio is part political thriller, part sweeping romantic melodrama as it tries to explore the dynamism of an inscrutable public figure. 

Circus of Books (April 22nd)

This documentary is a loving tribute to and intimate, emotional portrait of Karen and Barry Mason, a straight couple with three children who ran the gay porn and literature shop Circus of Books, a vital meeting place and cultural hub for the LGBTQ+ community in Los Angeles. Directed by the couple’s daughter, artist Rachel Mason,the film follows her parents’ story from their beginnings as a struggling young partnership trying to make an income for their family who stumbled into the LGBTQ+ world, to fighting obscenity laws as they became the biggest distributors of gay porn in the US. The heartfelt documentary also delves into the history of gay rights, detailing how the shop became a much-needed refuge during the Aids crisis. 

Extraction (April 24th)

Chris Hemsworth and Rudhraksh Jaiswal in Extraction. Photograph: Jasin Boland
Chris Hemsworth and Rudhraksh Jaiswal in Extraction. Photograph: Jasin Boland

Starring Chris Hemsworth and David Harbour (Stranger Things), Extraction is a full-force action film from stunt-co-ordinator-turned-director Sam Hargrave. Hemsworth plays Tyler Rake, a straight from central casting, foolhardy black-market mercenary, hell-bent on annihilation. Employed to rescue the kidnapped son of an international crime lord, he is submerged deeper into the darkness of the criminal underworld as he confronts weapons dealers and drug traffickers on his mission to find the lost child. 

After Life – Season 2 (April 24th)

Loved by viewers and critics alike, Ricky Gervais’s existentialist black comedy returns for a much-anticipated second season. The misanthropic Tony (Ricky Gervais) has not completely mellowed and is still railing against life after the death of his beloved wife Lisa (Kerry Godliman), but, as hinted at in the first season, he is now choosing to “punish people who deserve it”. Tony, using his job as a journalist with the local newspaper the Tambury Gazette, is determined to enrage and provoke those around him he thinks deserve a dose of the truth – which once again seems to be Gervais using his own polemical, often divisive Twitter presence as inspiration. 

Never Have I Ever (April 27th)

A scene from Never Have I Ever. Photograph: Lara Solanki/Netflix
A scene from Never Have I Ever. Photograph: Lara Solanki/Netflix

Mindy Kaling’s coming-of-age sitcom, inspired by her own childhood, is the story of Devi, a first-generation Indian-American who is dealing with family trauma and the boiling cauldron of hormones that adolescence brings.

Rather than relying on the comfort blanket of nostalgia that envelops memoir sitcoms like The Goldbergs and Everybody Hates Chris, Never Have I Ever is set in the present day, focusing on modern teen issues and hot topics. Kaling also decided to cast newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan in her first role as Devi, after she answered the comedian’s request for new talent on social media. In a dream casting opportunity, the show also features tennis legend John McEnroe (who Kaling’s parents are huge fans of), who narrates the show and plays Devi’s deceased father.

This article was edited on April 8th, 2020

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