This month, much of the world remains stuck at home without any movies, sports, concerts or anything else that used to complete with Netflix. The indefinite shutdown of U.S. TV and film production gives Netflix, with its vast stockpiles of episodes, a huge advantage over a competitor like Disney+, which has almost no new content to roll out at all. Ted Sarandos, the head of content for Netflix, explained recently that this approach (basically, the TV version of hoarding) has left them with enough new content to meet their regular schedule for the next few months, though Sarandos admitted that they will start to run out if filming is halted for a long time.
Netflix may also be benefiting from its recent re-invention as a global company, reacting to competitors like Disney+ and HBO Max by ordering more content aimed at international subscribers. Because of this international approach, they are the rare U.S. production company that doesn’t have all its filming shut down. Most of it is shut down, of course, but Netflix has some productions coming from countries that aren’t locked down, like South Korea and Iceland. That won’t be enough to meet demand, but it might help other Netflix productions re-start sooner rather than later. Sarandos has mentioned that these two countries may “lay the groundwork for our future rollout” when it comes time to figure out how to start filming under social-distancing guidelines. One advantage of being a global company is that you can borrow ideas from any country and bring them to America.
Netflix in May: What you should watch
Hollywood (May 1)
Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story) continues to produce big-budget content under his lucrative Netflix deal. This is a limited series that takes place in Hollywood after World War II, and follows a group of young, ambitious fictional characters as they try to make it in the movie business and find their fictional lives intersecting with real-life Hollywood stories. It sounds a bit like the mix of Hollywood nostalgia and alternative history offered by Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but Murphy and his team are trying to give it a more socially-conscious spin: some of the new characters are from groups that rarely got a fair shake in Hollywood, and Murphy is trying to make their stories into an argument that Hollywood would have been better off letting more voices be heard. He reportedly pitched the show to actor Jeremy Pope (playing a young African-American screenwriter) by saying, “what would happen if, you know, Rock Hudson and Anna May Wong and Dorothy Dandridge had happy endings?”
The Eddy (May 8)
This eight-episode drama series epitomizes Netflix’s international approach: created by English writer Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), with the first two episodes directed by the American filmmaker Damien Chazelle (La La Land) filmed and set in Paris, with dialogue in three languages. The show’s main setting is a nightclub in Paris’s 13th arrondissement, and focuses on a multicultural, multi-national jazz band that assembles to play there, in spite of personal problems and tragedies. Each episode will focus on a different member of the band, and Chazelle chose to give the show a cinéma vérité look, even shooting his episodes on old-fashioned 16mm film.
Hannah Gadsby: Douglas (May 26)
Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette” was perhaps the most talked-about Netflix comedy special of all time. The Australian comic turned her stand-up set into a deconstruction of the conventions of stand-up comedy and the social expectations embedded in those conventions. The show became a defining work of the 2010s and the uneasy compromises entertainers have to make between their jobs and their social consciences. It made her an overnight star in America, where she taped this follow-up show last year. In it, she continues to get laughs by questioning all the things that comedians have to do to get laughs, as well as questioning her own audience. For example, their apparent belief that she was a nobody until she became famous in America: “Other cultures reference themselves without consulting you first.”
Space Force (May 29)
One of the biggest recent blows to Netflix when it came to licensed content was losing the U.S. version of The Office, whose reruns were reportedly the service’s biggest hit. Now they’re trying to do the next best thing by commissioning a new series from the people most responsible for the success of The Office. Space Force stars Steve Carell (who also co-created the series), and Greg Daniels, the developer and showrunner of The Office, is the also the co-creator and showrunner on this one. The premise, inspired by a comment by President Trump, is sort of The Office meets Dr. Strangelove. Carell plays a general who finds himself assigned to supervise the creation of the interstellar equivalent of the Air Force. The supporting cast includes John Malkovich as a crazed scientist directly inspired by Dr. Strangelove, and Lisa Kudrow in a recurring role as Carell’s wife.
Blood & Water (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
South African series about a high school girl who investigates her family’s past and discovers that she may have a long-lost sister.
Kenny Sebastian: The Most Interesting Person in the Room (NETFLIX COMEDY SPECIAL)
The young comedian/musician, known among other things for creating songs based on tweets, gets his first Netflix stand-up special.
Mystic Pop-up Bar (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
Fantasy series, based on the web-toon by Bae Hye-soo, about a bar that mysteriously appears and disappears at the intersection between different world.
Snowpiercer (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
Daveed Digs and Jennifer Connolly star in a TV series adaptation of the film and graphic novel about a post-apocalyptic world where the survivors are stuck together on a train, the Snowpiercer of the title.
Coming to Netflix on May 1, 2020
All Day and a Night (NETFLIX FILM)
Black Panther co-writer Joe Robert Cole wrote and directed this drama film about the life of a young man (Ashton Sanders) sentenced to life in prison.
Almost Happy (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
Argentine comic Sebastián Wainraich stars in a comedy series as a radio host who deals with trouble at his job and with his ex-wife and children.
Get In (NETFLIX FILM)
This French thriller is about a family that discovers squatters living in their home. The French title is “Furie,” but the choice of the English title is likely a nod to Get Out.
Go! Go! Cory Carson: The Chrissy (NETFLIX FAMILY)
Another instalment in Netflix’s animated franchise about anthropomorphic cars (no, not the Disney one; this one is based on Vtech’s line of toys).
The Half Of It (NETFLIX FILM)
High school comedy-drama film about a love triangle that develops between a nerdy girl, her jock friend, and the girl they both fall for. Written and directed by Alice Wu.
Hollywood (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
See introduction for details
Into the Night (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
Belgian apocalyptic drama about people who must escape into darkness (hence the title) when the sun mysteriously heats up and starts killing anyone who is exposed to sunlight.
Medici: The Magnificent: Part 2 (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
In this historical drama about the famous Italian Renaissance family, the Medicis deal with revenge, long-lost children and possible economic ruin.
Mrs. Serial Killer (NETFLIX FILM)
Jacqueline Fernandez stars in Shirish Kunder’s thriller about a woman whose husband has been accused of being a serial killer. To get him out of jail, she decides to commit a murder with the same M.O.
Reckoning: Season 1
Another story about a serial killer, this time about what happens when a new murder is committed by a serial killer who was thought to be retired.
- 3 Ninjas: Kick Back
- Back to the Future
- Back to the Future Part II
- Bad Boys
- Barely Lethal
- Cracked Up, The Darrell Hammond Story
- Dante’s Peak
- Das Boot: Director’s Cut
- Deadpool 2
- Fifty Shades Freed
- Happy Feet
- I Am Divine
- Masha and the Bear: Season 4
- Penguins of Madagascar: The Movie
- The Cold Light Of Day
- The Devil’s Own
- The Interpreter
- The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking
- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
- To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
- Underworld: Awakening
- Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
Leaving Netflix on May 4, 2020
The House Bunny
Coming to Netflix on May 5, 2020
Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours To Kill (NETFLIX COMEDY SPECIAL)
Netflix’s first comedy special of the month is a big one: Jerry Seinfeld makes his Netflix debut in his first original stand-up special in over 20 years.
Coming to Netflix on May 6, 2020
The Adjustment Bureau
Ali G Indahouse
The Big Lebowski
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant
Scent of a Woman
Coming to Netflix on May 7, 2020
Scissor Seven: Season 2 (NETFLIX ANIME)
Chinese animated comedy about a hairdresser who moonlights as a hit man, using the same tools for both jobs.
Iron Man 3
Coming to Netflix on May 8, 2020
18 regali (NETFLIX FILM)
In this Italian film, a pregnant woman finds out she won’t live to her daughter’s first birthday, and sets aside 18 birthday gifts for her daughter to remember her by for the first 18 years of her life.
Chico Bon Bon: Monkey with a Tool Belt (NETFLIX FAMILY)
Animated educational series where a monkey teaches children how to fix things.
Dead to Me: Season 2 (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini star in creator Liz Feldman’s comedy-drama series as two recently-widowed women who form a bond. This season picks up after the violent ending of the second season, where a character was killed (spoiler: it wasn’t Applegate or Cardellini’s characters).
The Eddy (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
See introduction for details
The Hollow: Season 2 (NETFLIX FAMILY)
The first season of this Canadian animated series was about three teenagers who try to discover the truth behind a weird fantasy world they’ve been trapped in. They thought everything was wrapped up in the finale, but then they got renewed, so now they find themselves trapped in new, equally weird situations.
Valeria (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
A Spanish series based on Elisabet Benavent’s novels, about Valeria (Diana Gómez) a writer who turns to her small circle of female friends to help her through career and personal challenges.
Coming to Netflix on May 10, 2020
Coming to Netflix on May 11, 2020
Bordertown: Season 3 (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
Kari (Ville Virtanen) is a police detective who moved his family to the “border town,” hoping for less crime and violence. It’s the third season, so you can guess how that worked out.
Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics (NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY)
A mock-documentary written and directed by Donick Cary (The Simpsons), interviewing celebrities such as Sarah Silverman and Nick Offerman about their experience with psychedelic drugs.
Trial By Media (NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY)
This (real) documentary examines how television cameras have influenced modern trials, and how everyone in the courtroom shapes their presentation to the need for “creative storytelling and showmanship,” using the examples of several widely-covered recent trials in the U.S. Executive producers include George Clooney and The People vs. O.J. Simpson writer Jeffrey Toobin.
Coming to Netflix on May 12, 2020
True: Terrific Tales (NETFLIX FAMILY)
The title character’s name is True, and she and her friends retell classic stories and fairy tales from their own perspectives.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy Vs. the Reverend (NETFLIX INTERACTIVE SPECIAL)
Yes, Netflix has been doing original content long enough that some of its now-ended shows are doing reunion specials. This special assembles the regular and guest cast along with guest star Daniel Radcliffe, as Kimmy goes up against her former cult leader (Jon Hamm). Viewers will be allowed to choose their own adventure and see different scenes depending on how they want the story to go.
Coming to Netflix on May 13, 2020
The Wrong Missy (NETFLIX FILM)
Comedy about a man who invites the woman he loves to accompany him on a trip to Hawaii, only to discover that he accidentally invited another woman with the same name.
The Great Canadian Baking Show: Season 3
Coming to Netflix on May 14, 2020
Knightfall: Season 2
Coming to Netflix on May 20
Chichipatos (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
This series from Colombia is about a stage magician who makes a crime boss disappear, and then isn’t able to bring him back.
I Love You, Stupid (NETFLIX FILM)
Quim Gutiérrez stars as a man who tries to reinvent himself after his girlfriend and his employer both dump him.
Inhuman Resources (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
Eric Cantona stars in a French crime drama series (original title: “Dérapages”) as a down-on-his-luck man who gets a job at a shady corporation.
Magic for Humans: Season 3 (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
Magician Justin Willman returns for another six episodes of his reality series, where he films himself approaching total strangers and performing magic tricks for them.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Season 5 (NETFLIX FAMILY)
Another season of the animated reboot of the 1980s He-Man spinoff; in this version, unlike the original, the women aren’t all drawn with the same face and body type.
White Lines (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
Álex Pina, creator of Netflix’s international smash La Casa de Papel, returns with another crime series, about an Englishwoman (Laura Haddock) who travels to Spain in search of the truth about her missing brother.
Coming to Netflix on May 16, 2020
La reina de Indias y el conquistador (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
Johnny Ortiz created this historical drama for Colombia’s Caracol International, about La India Catalina (Essined Rivera Aponte) attempting to get revenge on the Spanish Conquistador Pedro de Heredia (Emmanuel Esparza).
This Is the End
Coming to Netflix on May 17, 2020
Pacific Rim: Uprising
Coming to Netflix on May 18, 2020
The Big Flower Fight (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
In this reality competition series, 10 teams compete to impress the judges with their floral decoration skills.
Coming to Netflix on May 19, 2020
Patton Oswalt: I Love Everything (NETFLIX COMEDY SPECIAL)
The first Netflix special in several years from the prolific comedian, where he talks about his personal life as well as his obsession with Star Wars.
Sweet Magnolias (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Brooke Elliott and Heather Headley play three old friends who help each other through their romantic and career troubles in this series based on the series of novels by Sherryl Woods.
Coming to Netflix on May 20, 2020
Ben Platt Live From Radio City Music Hall (NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY)
The singer/songwriter/actor (Dear Evan Hansen) taped this special at the last concert appearance of his 2019 North American tour.
Rebelión de los Godinez (NETFLIX FILM)
Comedy about a man whose grandfather forces him to take an office job in Mexico City.
Leaving Netflix on May 20, 2020
Coming to Netflix on May 22, 2020
Control Z (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
This series from Mexico has been described as a cross between Gossip Girl and Black Mirror, focusing on a high school where a mysterious hacker gets all the students’ secret information from their tech devices and begins releasing it to everyone.
History 101 (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
A series of shorts explaining various historical events to those of us who don’t have time to sit through an entire documentary.
THE LOVEBIRDS (NETFLIX FILM)
This comedy, starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjani as a couple on the run after they’re blamed for a murder, was originally supposed to be released to theatres last month. The studio, Paramount, cancelled the release and gave it to Netflix instead. This is likely to be the fate of a lot of small and medium-budget theatrical movies.
Selling Sunset: Season 2 (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
Another season of the reality series about real estate agents in the most unaffordably expensive neighbourhoods of Los Angeles.
Trailer Park Boys: The Animated Series: Season 2 (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
Like the title says: if we can’t get the Trailer Park Boys back in live action, we can at least get their voices on the soundtrack of this animated comedy.
The 100: Season 7
Coming to Netflix on May 23, 2020
Dynasty: Season 3 (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
The 2010s revival of Aaron Spelling’s ultra-1980s prime-time soap about beautiful wealthy families.
Leaving Netflix on May 23, 2020
Drop Dead Diva
Coming to Netflix on May 24, 2020
Heartland: Season 13
Coming to Netflix on May 25
Coming to Netflix on May 26, 2020
Hannah Gadsby: Douglas (NETFLIX COMEDY SPECIAL)
See introduction for details
Coming to Netflix on May 27, 2020
I’m No Longer Here (NETFLIX FILM)
Ulises (I Juan Daniel Garcia Treviño) is the former leader of a street gang in Mexico who is forced to leave the country and move to Queens in New York City.
Coming to Netflix on May 28, 2020
Animal Kingdom: Season 4
Dorohedoro (NETFLIX ANIME)
The story of a character who has been partly transformed into a lizard due to a curse, which he understandably would like to reverse if possible.
La corazonada (NETFLIX FILM)
Argentinian film about the murder of a young woman and the two cops assigned to the case, where the evidence seems to point to the victim’s best friend (which presumably means she didn’t do it).
Coming to Netflix on May 29, 2020
Space Force (NETFLIX ORIGINAL)
See introduction for details
Somebody Feed Phil: Season 3 (NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY)
Phil Rosenthal, creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, hasn’t created a new sitcom since then and doesn’t need to, so he spends his time doing things like this show, where he travels to different cities to sample their food. This season includes a trip to Montreal.
Coming to Netflix on May 31, 2020
High Strung Free Dance
Leaving Netflix on May 31, 2020