Ah, April. The weather is slowly shifting from unseasonably cold to unseasonably warm. Baseball is underway. The end of the school year is in sight. Yes, spring is in the air, which means it’s time to stay inside and enjoy way, way, way too much TV. You have no choice. Not really. There’s an absolute onslaught of television releases this month, which can only mean one thing: Emmy season is here. The TV Academy still uses the crazy outdated network calendar — this season’s eligibility window runs from June 2022 through May 2023 — so networks and streamers have until May 31 to put out their best new shows for all to see. For Netflix, it’s still a little early to debut its top Emmy darlings. (Their all-at-once release method allows them to drop programs all the way up to the deadline, and considering how much emphasis is given to recency bias, May is going to be a busy month.)
But April is still an awards game. “Beef” hopes to get a head-start with voters by premiering first at SXSW before an early-April wide release on Netflix. The genre-bending half-hour drama will need a bit of time if it hopes to spread through the Academy ranks and solidify itself in one category or the other. (Early word has it running in the Comedy categories.) Meanwhile, “Better Call Saul” makes its Netflix debut this month with the aim of reminding Emmy members it’s still eligible, despite releasing its final season nearly a year ago. The second part of Season 6, which premieres on the streamer this month, first ran on AMC back in July and August 2022 — but can the show benefit from the same Netflix bump as its predecessor, “Breaking Bad”? Time will tell.
The rest of the month is a little less shiny, what with premieres like “Florida Man” — which, with that title, simply can’t be a serious awards contender — and “Firefly Lane” Season 2, Part 2 (a show that was never made to win Emmys). Still, April brings three-time Emmy nominee Keri Russell back to TV with “The Diplomat,” and “Sweet Tooth” is both good enough and visually rich enough to warrant a little FYC love. Are they long shots? To be sure, but April is the time to take a flyer on the underdogs. You never know what might catch on, even in a very busy month for TV. Good luck, everyone.
Release Date: Thursday, April 6
Showrunner: Lee Sung Jin
Cast: Steven Yeun, Ali Wong, Joseph Lee, Young Mazino, Justin H. Min, Maria Bello, David Choe, Ashley Park
Format: 10 half-hour episodes
The Best Reason to Watch: It’s good! “Beef” made its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, and I was lucky enough to watch all 10 episodes before filing my review. Created by Lee Sung Jin, the new Netflix series follows two strangers whose random road rage encounter creates fissures throughout their lives. Danny (Steven Yeun) bears the burdens of an eldest son from a demanding family. On top of that, his contracting business is struggling, and he’s become world-weary in his late 30s. So when a random driver blares their horn and flicks him the bird — just for backing out of his parking spot — it sends him over the edge.
Of course, Amy (Ali Wong) had no idea who she was telling to fuck off. She’s just trying to get through one errand so she can get onto the next, and the next, and the next. As a well-off entrepreneur, Amy feels like her life has devolved into nonstop tasks, leaving her too little time at home with her young daughter and artistic husband. Lately, the pressures of work have been intensified by a pending sale — one she hopes will give her enough breathing room to create a rich personal life, but she fears will only keep work’s hamster wheel spinning faster.
Within their heated traffic encounter, both can project all their problems onto another nameless, faceless person — someone representative of the real issues driving them mad, and someone far enough from their actual lives to serve as a safe outlet for all their frustrations — or so they think. “Beef” is grounded enough to reckon with the root causes of each driver’s extended tantrums, while progressing in an unpredictable fashion that makes for a tense, compulsive watch. Get on it.
“Better Call Saul” Season 6, Part 2
Release Date: Tuesday, April 18
Showrunners: Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould
Cast: Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, Jonathan Banks, Giancarlo Esposito, Tony Dalton, Carol Burnett
Format: Six hourlong episodes
The Best Reason to Watch: It’s really good! Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s prequel to “Breaking Bad” ended just as well as its predecessor, and the final six episodes of Season 6 form an exemplary television experience from top to bottom. (Make sure to read IndieWire’s “Saul” coverage as you watch!) With all six seasons of the prequel and all five seasons of the original now streaming on Netflix, there are no more excuses to avoid diving in — so grab your favorite mug of coffee and enjoy.
Release Date: Thursday, April 20
Showrunner: Debora Cahn
Cast: Keri Russell, Rufus Sewell, David Gyasi, Ali Ahn, Rory Kinnear, Ato Essandoh
Format: Eight hourlong episodes
The Best Reason to Watch: Keri Russell. That much should be obvious. As soon as you see the name of “The Americans” star on a cast list, she’s automatically the best reason to watch: Doesn’t matter if it’s “Waitress” or “Star Wars,” “Felicity” or “Mission Impossible III,” “Cocaine Bear” or “Cocaine Bear” featuring character actress Margo Martindale, Russell’s presence ensures at least one aspect of what you’re about to watch will be great.
That being said, considering how many times the Netflix synopsis a) uses the term “crisis,” (twice!) and b) refers to marriage as “torture” or something to “survive,” there’s a decent chance Russell will be the only good reason to watch “The Diplomat” — a political-drama following Kate Wyler (Russell), the new U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Kate will be asked to balance her new diplomatic duties with a modern marriage, amid a series of personal and international crises. Blah blah alliances blah blah relationships blah blah— RUSSELL IS BACK ON TV, BABY! Let’s do this!!
“Sweet Tooth” Season 2
Release Date: Thursday, April 27
Showrunner: Jim Mickle
Cast: Nonso Anozie, Christian Convery, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen, Dania Ramirez, Aliza Vellani, Will Forte, Marlon Williams, Naledi Murray, Christopher Cooper Jr., Yonas Kibreab
Format: Eight hourlong episodes
The Best Reason to Watch: The first season of Netflix’s adaptation of Jeff Lemire’s DC graphic novel was surprisingly effective — an endearing blend of fantastical adventure and family bonding that wasn’t too sweet for adults or too intense for kids. Developer Jim Mickle’s second set of episodes sees a new wave of The Sick sweeping the country, as Gus (Christian Convery), the hybrid deer-boy who spent the first season searching for his mother (Amy Seimetz), is held prisoner by a general intent on “curing” the infected. To help his fellow hybrid captives, Gus agrees to work with the doctors — remembering his past to prevent a dark future — all while Jep (Nonso Anozie) works to set them all free. Cute elephant kids are involved. So is the impressive Adeel Akhtar. Odds are high you’ll never get this combo anywhere else! Give it a try!
Release Date: Thursday, April 13
Creator: Donald Todd
Cast: Edgar Ramirez, Abbey Lee, Anthony LaPaglia, Otmara Marrero, Lex Scott Davis, Emory Cohen, Clark Gregg, Paul Schneider, Lauren Buglioli
Format: Seven hourlong episodes
The Best Reason to Watch: No, “Florida Man” is not an episodic anthology inspired by Darius’ misinterpretation (or… correct interpretation?) of the term “Florida Man” (often used in news headlines about weird, one-of-a-kind crimes). That, honestly, would’ve been the best reason to watch. But hey, maybe this won’t be a show that solely exists to serve Netflix’s SEO machinations, and it will actually involve some very strange Florida-based shenanigans. No matter what, the new drama series stars Edgar Ramirez as an ex-cop who returns to his home state in pursuit of a Philly mobster’s runaway girlfriend. Rather than a quick trip, he finds himself stuck in the mucky marsh of family secrets, good intentions gone awry, and the state’s mysterious hold on its residents — even the ones who knew better than to stick around for good. Sure, it sounds a little boiler-plate, but maybe it’ll surprise you — just like Florida always does.
“Hatfields & McCoys”
Release Date: Saturday, April 1
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Writers: Ted Mann, Ronald Parker, Bill Kerby (story)
Cast: Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Matt Barr, Tom Berenger, Powers Boothe, Andrew Howard, Jena Malone, Noel Fisher, Boyd Holbrook, Mare Winningham
Format: Three two-hour episodes
The Best Reason to Watch: With “Yellowstone” on hiatus, anyone needing an extra dose of Kevin Costner this April can turn to “Hatfields & McCoys,” a History Channel limited series from back when the cable network was still invested in scripted originals (2012). Costner plays the titular Hat(field), nicknamed “Devil,” who returns home after the Civil War only to start another war with his ex-best friend, Randall McCoy (Bill Paxton). Told in three, two-hour episodes, “Hatfields & McCoys” may not inspire any think-pieces about middle America, but that’s also the best reason to watch. (Please stop guessing the politics of “Yellowstone,” a show that’s own writers spend less time considering story choices than so many random people on the internet.)
“Firefly Lane” Season 2, Part 2
Release Date: Thursday, April 27
Showrunner: Maggie Friedman
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Sarah Chalke, Ben Lawson, Beau Garrett, Yael Yurman, Ignacio Serricchio
Format: Seven hourlong episodes
The Best Reason to Watch: To be clear, there is no reason I’m aware of to watch “Firefly Lane” Season 2, Part 2 — including that you’ve already watched the first 1.5 seasons and need to know how it ends. You don’t. It’s OK. TV shows get cancelled all the time without a formal finale, and I have no idea what sort of magic spell Katherine Heigl cast over Netflix execs to earn a two-part goodbye for a show that barely even started. But my editor does! So this is for you, Erin. Tell the world why “Firefly Lane” is worth finishing. (Or, you know, don’t worry about it and just let this blurb coast into the sunset sans closure, just like the show it’s purportedly recommending.)
The Rest of Incoming TV
“Welcome to Eden” Season 2 (available in April)
“Ex-Addicts Club” (available in April)
“Hoarders” Season 12 (available April 1)
“War Sailor” (available April 2)
“Magic Mixies” Season 1 (available April 3)
“Surviving R. Kelly Part III: The Final Chapter” (available April 3)
“The Signing” (available April 4)
“Thicker Than Water” (available April 7)
“Transatlantic” (available April 7)
“CoComelon” Season 8 (available April 10)
“All American: Homecoming” Season 2 (available April 11)
“Smother-in-Law” Season 2 (available April 12)
“The Boss Baby: Back in the Crib” Season 2 (available April 13)
“Obsession” (available April 13)
“Queenmaker” (available April 14)
“Doctor Cha” (available April 15)
“Oggy Oggy” Season 2 (available April 17)
“How to Get Rich” (available April 18)
“Tooth Pari: When Love Bites” (available April 20)
“Indian Matchmaking” Season 3 (available April 21)
“Ada Twist, Scientist” Season 4 (available April 22)
“Workin’ Moms” Season 7 (available April 26)
“The Nurse” (available April 27)
“Sharkdog” Season 3 (available April 27)
“InuYasha” Season 6 (available April 28)
“King of Collectibles: The Goldin Touch” (available April 28)