AAs the semester winds down, streaming services provide a much-needed escape from everyday stress. Starting in April, several major (and new) streaming sites will offer a wide array of original content. From fire-breathing dragons to a magic shop that stocks unicorns, here are a few essential new and returning shows and original films everyone should be streaming this month.
Best known for her roles in “Room” and “Captain Marvel,” Brie Larson makes her directorial debut in the upcoming Netflix original film “Unicorn Store.” The dramedy follows Kit (played by Larson) who finally gets a chance to fulfill her lifelong dream of adopting a unicorn after failing out of art school. Samuel L. Jackson co-stars as the salesman of a magical shop from which Kit arranges to adopt her unicorn. In addition to its highly entertaining premise, “Unicorn Store” is the first film produced by 51 Entertainment, a production company that supports female directors.
Netflix’s new original television comedy “Special” tells the story of Ryan, a disabled, gay man in his 20s who gets into a car accident and begins to play off his disability as an injury from the accident. The show is based on the 2015 memoir “I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves,” written by the show’s creator and star Ryan O’Connell, who pretended to be injured after an accident even though he had suffered from cerebral palsy for years. In a recent interview with Vulture, O’Connell said that he hoped the show would empower disabled people and allow them to “tell their own stories and be in charge of it.”
“Someone Great” stars “Jane the Virgin” frontwoman Gina Rodriguez as Jenny, a music journalist from New York City who needs to move to San Francisco for work but cannot convince her boyfriend to make the move with her. Before she sets off to start her new job, Jenny recruits her two best friends — played by DeWanda Wise and Brittany Snow — for a wild night out in NYC to help her cope with the imminent end of her nine-year relationship. With Rodriguez and Lakeith Stanfield (who plays Jenny’s boyfriend) as its leads, “Something Great” looks to capitalize the growing popularity of Netflix rom-coms.
Based on the novel by Richard Wright, HBO’s new original film “Native Son” tells the story of Bigger Thomas, a young African American man living in Chicago who enters a new world of money and power after being hired as a chauffeur for affluent businessman Will Dalton. Director Rashid Johnson jettisons the novel’s 1930s setting in favor of the modern day, and according to Variety, Ashton Sanders delivers a “poetic performance” as Thomas to follow up his roles in “Moonlight” and “The Equalizer 2.” Critics have praised “Native Son”’s arresting cinematography and inspired commentary on race relations in the United States, but suggest that Johnson’s work is ultimately flawed and problematically adapted. Either way, its stellar performances and intriguing premise are sure to spark interest and conversation.
Game of Thrones
Nearly two years after its last season ended, HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” based of of the “Song of Ice and Fire” series by George R.R .Martin, returns for its eighth and final season on April 14. The series, which has now run off-course from the books, will follow Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow as they try to rally their armies against the White Walkers, while Cersei Lannister attempts to maintain her grip on power. Season 8 will include the entire principal cast and take place over six episodes, more than half of which run roughly 90 minutes long. The final season of the wildly popular fantasy series is also rumored to include the Battle of Winterfell, the longest consecutive battle sequence ever committed to film or television. After years of multiple storylines spread across the fictitious realm of Westeros, viewers can finally see all of them merge into an ending that is guaranteed to be “bittersweet,” by Martin.
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The Twilight Zone
CBS looks to a revive an American classic with its upcoming reboot of “The Twilight Zone,” Rod Serling’s 1960s anthology series of the same name. “The Twilight Zone” is produced by writer and director Jordan Peele, who hopes to continue his examination of American social and political fissures through chilling tales such as his two feature films, “Get Out” and “Us.” Like the original series, each episode of Peele’s reboot will tell a different story and reimagine some of the series’ best-known episodes. The show stars Steven Yeun, Kumail Nanjiani, Tracy Morgan, John Cho and Adam Scott, among others, in episodic roles while Peele emulates Serling as the show’s host. “The Twilight Zone” is now streaming exclusively on CBS All Access.
After a promising first season, Emmy Award-winner Lena Waithe’s “The Chi” returns for its second season on Showtime. The drama explores the complexities of life in the South side of Chicago through the perspectives of its residents. Largely a character study, the series touches upon myriad themes such as violence, social justice and race relations. “The Chi”’s character’s have depth, and their interactions with various authoritative institutions, such as the Chicago Police Department, are complex and multilayered. Season 2 will follow pre-teen protagonist Kevin as he looks to recover from previous traumas of while the series’ other characters combat their personal struggles in the fluctuating Chicago landscape. After earning three nominations at the NAACP Image Awards, Waithe will surely continue to capture what life is truly like for citizens of Chicago.