Top TV Shows to Watch (and Stream) in May

  • Publish Date: April 29, 2019
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This month's notable TV and streaming debuts

Below, our editors have selected the most interesting TV shows (including TV movies and specials) debuting this month, listed in order by premiere date.

Knock Down the House
Documentary | Netflix | Movie debuts May 1

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An Audience Award winner at Sundance early this year, this documentary feature from Rachel Lears traces the grassroots 2018 congressional campaigns of four women—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin—taking on established incumbents. House won't be the only documentary about the 2018 elections debuting this month. On May 28, HBO will air Running With Beto, a look at Beto O'Rourke's failed Senate campaign that earned fairly good reviews at its SXSW debut in March.
Photo courtesy Sundance Film Festival

Drama | The CW | Season 5 debuts May 2 at 8p

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It's the first Rob Thomas series to last five seasons (though Veronica Mars could still get there), but it won't go any further than that: These 13 episodes will conclude the story of Seattle medical examiner-turned-zombie-toward-Renegade, Liv Moore (Rose McIver). Joining the cast this season is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (yes, the former Laker) as a member of the city council, while Liv's mother and brother (last seen in season 2) are expected to factor into an upcoming storyline.
Photo by Bettina Strauss/The CW

Tuca & Bertie
Animation/Comedy | Netflix | Season 1 debuts May 3

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If you aren't already familiar with the work of Lisa Hanawalt, it's time to change that. The illustrator, cartoonist, writer (Hot Dog Taste Test), podcaster, and James Beard Award winner (!) is perhaps best known for designing the look of the critically acclaimed Netflix animated series BoJack Horseman, a show that reflects her skewed comedic sensibility. Now, Hanawalt brings her own animal-oriented adult animated series—which she wrote and created—to Netflix. The show centers on the titular Tuca and Bertie, a toucan (voiced by Tiffany Haddish) and a songbird (voiced by Ali Wong) who share a friendship and an apartment building. Steven Yeun also stars, while guest voices for this 10-episode first season include Tig Notaro, Tessa Thompson, Reggie Watts, Nicole Byer, John Early, Amber Ruffin, Jermaine Fowler, and Richard E. Grant.
Photo by Netflix

The Spanish Princess
Drama | Starz | Miniseries debuts May 5 at 8p

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Like its predecessors, the Starz miniseries The White Queen and The White Princess, The Spanish Princess is based on the historical novels of Philippa Gregory—in this case, The Constant Princess and The King's Curse. Here, the story revolves around Catherine of Aragon (Charlotte Hope, The Theory of Everything) an ambitious young Spanish princess who seeks the British throne in the early 16th century. Not to spoil the story, but you may remember her from history as Henry VIII's wife—well, the first one, at least.
Photo by Starz

Drama | HBO | Miniseries debuts May 6 at 9p

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After it abandoned the idea years ago, HBO is once again attempting to expand its scripted originals to Monday nights. Next up is this five-part dramatization of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which aims to accurately portray how the world's deadliest nuclear accident occurred and how it impacted nearby residents. (Hint: not all that well.) Jared Harris, Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård, Barry Keoghan, and Paul Ritter star—and no, they don't try to adopt Russian or Ukrainian accents. Critics saw the first three episodes at Tribeca last week, and they had a lot of praise for the miniseries while cautioning that the extraordinarily bleak subject matter means that the series definitely won't be for everyone.
Photo by Liam Daniel/HBO

State of the Union
Comedy | Sundance | Season 1 debuts May 6 at 10p

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A minimalist comedy series from noted British filmmaker Stephen Frears (The Queen) and novelist Nick Hornby (High Fidelity), State of the Union runs for just 10 minutes an episode, each following a married couple (Chris O'Dowd, Rosamund Pike) as they grab drinks at a pub prior to heading to a couples' counseling session. (What you see in the photo above is pretty much what you get.) Critics saw—and enjoyed—all 10 episodes at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. It'll be a semi binge: one new episode will run every weeknight at 10p for two weeks beginning May 6th.
Photo courtesy Sundance Film Festival

Comedy/Reality | Comedy Central | Season 1 debuts May 9 at 10:30p

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Comedy Central may have cancelled his previous show, but the network isn't done with Jordan Klepper yet. This time, the former host of The Opposition (and Daily Show correspondent) leaves the studio for a new weekly series consisting entirely of field pieces in which he travels the country to investigate issues including the deportation of U.S. veterans, environmental protests, space exploration, the legal cannabis industry, and more.
Photo by Comedy Central

Drama/Comedy/Anthology | Netflix | Season 3 debuts May 10

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If your idea of a good time is watching a collection of short Joe Swanberg films (and count us in that group), then this under-the-radar Netflix series is for you. The Chicago-set series is an anthology, with each episode focusing on a different set of characters (though some characters recur across multiple seasons and episodes) and individual stories ranging in tone from pure comedy to something much more serious, exploring "the modern maze of love, sex, technology, and culture." For this third and final season, which spans nine episodes, the cast includes Swanberg regulars like Jake Johnson and Melanie Lynskey as well as Marc Maron, Aya Cash, Dave Franco, Zazie Beetz, Sophia Bush, Gugu Mbatha Raw, Elizabeth Reaser, Michael Chernus, Kiersey Clemons, and John Gallagher Jr.
Photo by Netflix

Wine Country
Comedy | May 10 | Movie debuts May 10

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A ladies trip to Napa to celebrate a 50th birthday goes a bit—er—sideways in this Netflix comedy directed by and starring Amy Poehler. Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Maya Rudolph, Paula Pell, and Emily Spivey (who co-wrote the script with Liz Cackowski) fill out the traveling party, while Tina Fey, Cherry Jones, and Jason Schwartzman also appear.
Photo by Colleen Hayes

Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men
Documentary/Music | Showtime | Miniseries debuts May 10 at 9p

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Directed by Mass Appeal's Sacha Jenkins, this four-part documentary miniseries traces the story of the seminal hip hop outfit beginning with their formation in the early 1990s, combining never-before-seen footage with new interviews with all nine surviving members. Critics had plenty of good things to say about the series when it debuted at Sundance in January.
Photo by Kyle Christy/SHOWTIME

My Dad Wrote a Porno
Comedy | HBO | Special debuts May 11 at 10p

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If you suddenly discovered that your father has been secretly writing a series of (not all that good) erotic novels under the pen name Rocky Flintstone, would you a) hide in shame, or b) read them aloud to an audience of millions? Fortunately, British TV writer Jamie Morton opted for the latter path, and the result is a wildly successful podcast which now comes to HBO in the form of a one-off special performed on stage in front of a live audience earlier this year. As in the podcast, Morton is joined by pals Alice Levine and James Cooper, who provide running commentary as Morton reads a new chapter from his father's work.
Photo by Liam Daniel/HBO

L.A.'s Finest
Drama | Spectrum (On Demand) | Season 1 debuts May 13

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Notable far more for what it represents than what it actually is, L.A.'s Finest is the first "Charter Spectrum Original"—so, yes, even your cable company now has its own proprietary content. (And that's exactly the problem: If Spectrum isn't your cable company, you can't watch.) Originally developed for NBC (which passed on the project), the 13-episode series serves as a female-centered spinoff from the Bad Boys film franchise and stars Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba as Los Angeles police detectives.
Photo by Charter/Spectrum

What's My Name: Muhammad Ali
Documentary | HBO | Movie debuts May 14 at 8p

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Divided into two parts (though they air back-to-back on May 14), this 165-minute HBO documentary from director Antoine Fuqua (and producer LeBron James) chronicles the life of the legendary boxer using nothing but archival footage, with Ali basically serving as his own narrator. Reviews out of the documentary's Tribeca premiere last weekend were encouraging, with critics finding the film extremely effective and illuminating even if it fails to provide any new insights into the boxer's private life.
Photo by Ken Regan © 2019 Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC

Comedy/Drama | Hulu | Miniseries debuts May 17

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George Clooney is no stranger to the black comedy genre, which could mean good things for his miniseries adaptation of Joseph Heller's classic, absurdist WWII novel—provided he can successfully navigate the material's page-to-screen transition (which partially flummoxed the normally unimpeachable Mike Nichols when he adapted the book into a 1970 feature film). But TV's episodic nature could be a better fit for the story than the big screen. Clooney directs, produces, and co-stars in the six-episode series, which also features Kyle Chandler, Hugh Laurie, Christopher Abbott, Giancarlo Giannini, and Tessa Ferrer.
Photo by Philipe Antonello

Comedy/Drama | Prime Video | Season 2 debuts May 17

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Before she created Killing Eve, Phoebe Waller-Bridge wowed critics with her 2016 series Fleabag, which adapted her own one-woman play (which she has been performing in New York this spring) into six sublime episodes of what ultimately was a deeply moving drama disguised in the form of a raunchy black comedy. That season told a complete story, and Waller-Bridge had no plans for a follow-up—until, suddenly, she did. Kristin Scott Thomas and Fiona Shaw guest in this second season (along with returning co-stars Olivia Colman, Sian Clifford, and Brett Gelman, among others), which finds Waller-Bridge's character changing her worldview after meeting a priest played by Andrew Scott. And it looks like there won't be any sophomore slump. The new episodes have already aired in the UK, where reviews were once again stellar (perhaps even more so than the for the first series)—though the spoiler-averse will want to avoid seeking them out right now.
Photo by Luke Varley/BBC

The Name of the Rose
Drama | Sundance | Miniseries debuts May 23 at 10p

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Not that it's an especially crowded field, but last year's My Brilliant Friend established a new high-water mark for Italian TV series based on novels. It might be tough for Sundance's new miniseries to match the heights of that HBO hit, but there are some big names involved in this Italian/German (but English-language) adaptation of Umberto Eco's murder mystery set in 14th century Italy. Most notable are the stars of this eight-episode series: John Turturro (playing William of Baskerville, a character previously played by Sean Connery in a 1986 film adaptation) and Rupert Everett (as Bernard Gui).
Photo by Fabio Lovino/SundanceTV

The Hot Zone
Drama | National Geographic | Miniseries debuts May 27 at 9p

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Julianna Margulies heads the cast of this six-part, three-night, fictionalized adaptation of Richard Preston's best-selling 1995 nonfiction book chronicling the first Ebola outbreak in 1989 and a U.S. Army scientist's heroic quest to prevent the disease from spreading uncontrollably. Noah Emmerich, Topher Grace, James D'Arcy, Grace Gummer, and Robert Sean Leonard also star.
Photo by National Geographic/Amanda Matlovich

Archer: 1999
Animation/Comedy | FXX | Season 10 debuts May 29 at 10p

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Archer's switch from a spy series to an anthology appears to be permanent; beginning with season 5 (and especially since the end of season 7, when Sterling Archer fell into a coma), series creator Adam Reed has reinvented the show each year with a new setting and format. For this 10th year, Archer becomes an animated sci-fi adventure comedy following the crew of a salvage vessel in space. Expect tributes to classic sci-fi such as Alien and Star Trek: The Next Generation and guests such as Sam Richardson (Veep), Jillian Bell, and Matt Berry.
Photo by FXX

Always Be My Maybe
Rom-com | Netflix | Movie debuts May 31

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Netflix certainly seems to be falling in love with the rom-com—with mixed success over the past year. Up next is one of the streaming service's more promising entries in the genre, and it marks the feature directorial debut for TV's Nahnatchka Khan (Don't Trust the B–––– in Apartment 23). Maybe stars Ali Wong and Randall Park (who are also credited as two of the three writers on the film) as childhood friends who have a falling out, go 15 years without speaking to each other, and then reconnect in San Francisco—as more than just friends. The supporting cast includes Keanu Reeves, Daniel Dae Kim, Charlyne Yi, Michelle Buteau, Karan Soni, and Lyrics Born.
Photo by Netflix

Deadwood: The Movie
Drama/Western | HBO | Movie debuts May 31 at 8p

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The long-rumored project is finally just about here. David Milch's deliciously foul-mouthed, critically acclaimed HBO western series returns for a belated finale that takes place a decade later and features just about all of the original cast, including Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, Molly Parker, Paula Malcomson, John Hawkes, Anna Gunn, Robin Weigert, Brad Dourif, William Sanderson, Kim Dickens, Dayton Callie, and Gerald McRaney.
Photo by Warrick Page/HBO

Good Omens
Drama/Fantasy | Prime Video | Miniseries debuts May 31

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This six-episode adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's comedic 1990 fantasy novel depicts an unlikely alliance between an angel (Michael Sheen) and a demon (David Tennant) who seek to prevent the coming Armageddon. It's a pretty great cast all around: Omens also stars Jon Hamm, Michael McKean, Anna Maxwell Martin, Jack Whitehall, Miranda Richardson, Josie Lawrence, Mireille Enos, and Nick Offerman. If that weren't enough, Frances McDormand provides the voice of God, while Benedict Cumberbatch voices Satan. Gaiman wrote the adaptation and produces the series, which will be available to stream in its entirety on the 31st.
Photo by Amazon

Swamp Thing
Drama/Horror | DC Universe | Season 1 debuts May 31

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Produced by James Wan and directed (in part) by Len Wiseman, the streaming service's latest live-action original is a horror series starring Gotham's Crystal Reed as DC Comics character Abby Arcane and Derek Mears as Swamp Thing (while Andy Bean plays him in his Alec Holland form). Virginia Madsen, Will Patton, Jennifer Beals, and Ian Ziering also star. Before you get too excited, there's one huge red flag: DC abruptly halted production in mid-April, cutting the first season from 13 to 10 episodes due to "creative differences" (and catching cast and crew members by surprise in the process).
Photo by DC Universe

When They See Us
Drama | Netflix | Miniseries debuts May 31

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Ava DuVernay writes, directs, and produces this four-part miniseries retelling the story of the "Central Park Five"—five black and Hispanic teens who were wrongly convicted of the violent rape of a white jogger in New York in the late 1980s and were eventually exonerated over a decade later after spending years in prison. Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga, Niecy Nash, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Christopher Jackson, Blair Underwood, Jharrel Jerome, Famke Janssen, and Joshua Jackson star.
Photo by Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

More upcoming shows

Visit our TV Premiere Calendar for a complete, frequently updated listing of all upcoming TV debuts.

We also have guides to the best recent and upcoming streaming releases available on Amazon's Prime Video, HBO Go/HBO Now, Hulu, Netflix, and Starz.

Top recent theatrical releases streaming in May

Bathtubs Over Broadway debuts May 9 on Netflix

Egg debuts May 15 on Hulu

Halloween (2018) debuts May 25 on HBO Go and HBO Now

The Happy Prince debuts May 27 on the Starz App

Suspiria debuts May 3 on Prime Video

The Wife debuts May 14 on the Starz App

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