Tuesday, April 12th
Noughties comedy star Catherine Tate is having a career resurgence this year. Not only have audiences been treated to The Nan Movie, a full-length caper film based on the irascible pensioner from her popular sketch show, there is also Hard Cell, her debut sitcom for Netflix. The mockumentary-style series follows the travails of the staff and inmates of a fictional women's prison. Sparky governor Laura Willis (Tate) is desperately trying to rehabilitate the image of HMP Woldsley and impress the documentary makers, hatching a plan to stage a musical inside the prison. With her apathetic colleagues taking a cynical view of her artistic endeavours and the general indifference of the prisoners, Willis's dream of being the saviour of the institution seems impossible.
Hard Cell is almost an extension of Tate’s BBC show with the comedian playing an assortment of characters including Marco the warden and the prison’s ‘Top Dog’ the fearsome Big Viv.
Anatomy of a Scandal
Friday, April 15th
The latest flashy drama from Big Little Lies creator David E Kelley is based on the best selling novel by Sarah Vaughan. Set in the rarefied political world of Westminster, Anatomy of a Scandal unearths the secrets and lies of the life of high flying MP James Whitehouse (Rupert Friend). When Whitehouse admits to an affair his beleaguered wife Sophie (Sienna Miller) prepares herself for the media onslaught but as new accusations dog the couple, the scandal moves from the tabloids to the courts, as a sexual assault allegation leaves Sophie questioning her relationship and her husband's morality.
An anxiety ridden, pacy, paranoid series with flashes of Apple Tree Yard and The Undoing, Anatomy of a Scandal is the kind of gripping thriller that is engineered to have viewers querying the veracity of every character’s story.
White Hot : The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch
Tuesday, April 19th
After the surplus of scammer documentaries and dramas comes the examination of the unseemly side of the fashion industry. With a Hulu docuseries investigating the greed and sleaze of the seminal Y2K street wear label Von Dutch and Vice's look at Dov Charney's seedy empire American Apparel, the fickle nature of fast fashion and conspicuous consumption perhaps best typifies the recklessness of late stage capitalism.
Netflix’s documentary White Hot focuses on the temple of all-American conformity Abercrombie & Fitch. The company was the byword in conventional, preppy clothing in the late 90s and Noughties. With its darkly lit, heavily scented stores that blared dance music, Abercrombie & Fitch acted as a kind of underage club for teens. Their clothes and fragrances became a coveted status symbol, their shirtless male models a fantasy portrait of wealth and success. The billion dollar company seemed unstoppable until unsavoury practices, exclusionary marketing and discriminatory behaviour began to tarnish their once golden reputation.
Better Call Saul – Season 6
Tuesday, April 19th
The end of Better Call Saul sees another popular American anti-hero shuffling off our screens. What began as a prequel to Breaking Bad transformed into something entirely different. With Bob Odenkirk's elegiac performance that toggles between bitterly morose and darkly comic, Better Call Saul is not as overtly nihilistic as its parent show. Common themes are present, that of the formation and mutability of identity, the delusion of the American Dream but injected with a wryness, subtlety and an all encompassing tragicomic feeling of dread.
With the shift from Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman having been completed and his business booming thanks to his representation of the infamous Salamanca family, life should be good but the presence of Howard Hamlin still looms and danger lurks around every corner for Kim. As the world of Breaking Bad slowly begins to bleed into the series, fans are promised a satisfying conclusion to this immersive origin story.
Russian Doll – Season 2
Wednesday, April 20th
Should the greatest series ever produced by Netflix even HAVE a sequel? Russian Doll was a perfect Chinese puzzle of a show, crackling with humour, bathed in melancholy, it tackled the big philosophical questions about loneliness, grief, love and how to approach the game of life. As Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) was forced to confront her own mortality, caught in constant repetitive loop, doomed to relive her 36th birthday to the tune of Harry Nilsson's Gotta Get Up, the only way out was to search from within, to confront her own brokenness in order to feel a sense of purpose again.
The show ended on a spectacularly moving note about the healing nature of community and friendship, something that chimed perfectly in the days of lockdown, but a Russian doll contains multitudes and the second season offers up more existentialist thematics to be explored. This season Nadia discovers a fate worse than death as she journeys through the past looking for another escape route.
Selling Sunset – Season 5
Friday, April 22nd
Season 4 fully anointed the glorious Christine Quinn as 'Queen Bitch' as she gleefully caused a civil war within the Oppenheim Group. Newcomer Emma Hernan might have attempted to steal focus with her part in Christine's romantic past, pouring doubt into the minds of the other women but Quinn will always be the central force of the entire show. She is the drama creator, the character assinator, a Disney villain wrapped in Versace, the lifeblood of Selling Sunset.
This time around decisions must be made, will Christine stay with the Oppenheim Group? Will she mend her relationship with Mary? Will Davina return to the fold? Then there is the matter of boss Jason’s dalliance with agent Chrishelle, the staff trip to Greece and the exciting additions to the cast (including British Nigerian luxury realtor Chelsea Lazkani) who are ready to cause as much drama while selling as many McMansions as they can. It’s business as usual.
Friday, April 22nd
This charming LGBTQ+ teen drama is based on a series of cult graphic novels by Alice Oseman. Heartstopper tells the story of Charlie Spring (Joe Locke), an openly gay student whose life is altered by his burgeoning relationship with the school's most popular boy, Nick Nelson (Kit Connor).
A thoughtful, sweet series, it slowly unfolds its romantic core while also dealing with the complexity of teen life. It raises issues such as finding your voice, understanding your sexuality and also tackles the important subject of mental health and the pressures that young men face.
The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe – The Unheard Tapes
Wednesday, April 27th
Marilyn Monroe's strange allure as Hollywood's saddest starlet has never dimmed. Andrew Dominik's take on this mythos, the highly anticipated adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates novel Blonde, starring Ana De Armas is due for release on Netflix this year. Until then, Monroe is placed back under the microscope in this new documentary.
Directed by ex-Louis Theroux producer Emma Cooper and produced by Chris Smith (Fyre, Bad Vegan)The Unheard Tapes attempts to piece together the actresses' final hours. Featuring interviews with colleagues and her inner circle as well as Marilyn's own thoughts it offers a new perspective on her last days which has forever fuelled celebrity gossip and has been subject to countless conspiracy theories. The truth about Monroe's demise may never be exposed and for some this complicated, cryptic legacy is part of her appeal as a tragic icon.
Ozark – Season 4, Part 2
Friday, April 29th
Ozark is finally coming to a close with this new batch of episodes. Splitting the season into two parts has ratcheted up the tension with fans anxiously waiting to discover the fate of the Byrdes The trailer for Part Two has been accused of having major spoilers so if you want to binge the entire season in one go, consider this as a warning. While Wendy (Laura Linney) and Marty (Jason Bateman) are just trying to survive, Ruth (Julia Garner) is intent on revenge driving the Byrdes to ever more desperate measures.
Grace & Frankie – Season 7
Friday, April 29th
The redoubtable twosome are back for one last round. This is the swansong for Netflix's longest running original show returning after a considerable three year break due to the pandemic. Grace and Frankie has been the secret weapon of the streaming service for the past seven years. What may look like a traditional sitcom with its odd couple pairing and zany plots is actually a progressive, astute comedy about aging, friendship, sexuality and family.
The fiery dynamic between Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda has been a joy to watch as we followed the women getting to grips with everything from their ex husbands' affair to discovering vibrators, psychedelic drugs and enjoying copious gin and tonics. Grace and Frankie is a celebration of older women showing them as viable humans still filled to the brim with excitement and passion. This season will be an exploration of the complexities of their relationship. As it circles back to the themes of the first season it focuses on what made it such essential viewing – the power of Tomlin and Fonda together. It will also give viewers the moment they've been waiting for, the much talked about reunion with their 9 to 5 co-star, Ms Dolly Parton.