Summer draws ever closer, and while there are a lot of great movies to catch, we know you can’t spend all of your time and money going to the theater. Luckily, there’s a lot of great stuff to catch on the small screen, too. With that in mind, here are five choices we think are worth your precious binge time in May.
What it is: Penny Dreadful creates a frightening variant of Victorian London, where horrific figures from classic literature such as Dr. Frankenstein, the Creature, and Dorian Grey co-exist and terrorize the city.
Why you should watch it: It’s gory, it’s sexy, it’s action-packed, and it’s full of high drama, often with a supernatural twist, which makes for a highly addictive combination. Plus, it’s a lot of fun watching Eva Green vamp it up as a gothic femme fatale alongside Timothy Dalton, with his dignified swagger. Critics agreed, too: season one is Certified Fresh at 78 percent, and season two sits at 100 percent. With season three premiering on the first of May, you might as well get caught up before you tune in.
Commitment: About 16 hours
What it is: A successful Florida family is forced to contend with dark secrets from their past when their troubled, estranged brother returns home and begins to shake things up.
Why you should watch it: Bloodline is simply the latest drama to prove the folks over at Netflix know how to deliver high quality television. The cast — which includes Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Sam Shepard, and Sissy Spacek, among others — is absolutely top notch, and the writing walks a fine line between psychodrama and crime thriller territory. Season two drops in its entirety on May 27, which gives you plenty of time to run through the first season’s 13 episodes.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: 13 hours
What it is: A US Secret Service agent involved in a car accident wakes up in a small town he is mysteriously unable to leave and whose peculiar residents share a dark secret.
Why you should watch it: Consider this a mix of David Lynch and M. Night Shyamalan; the former’s Twin Peaks series and overall aesthetic serve as a clear inspiration for Wayward Pines, while the latter infuses the show with his own twisted sensibilities as executive producer. Beyond that, the cast is peppered with vets like Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Melissa Leo, and Toby Jones, among others, and its sharp storytelling will keep you guessing. Season two premieres on May 25, so there’s plenty of time to jump on board this crazy train.
Commitment: About 7 hours
What it is: In the vein of Police Squad! comes this hysterical slapstick single-camera police procedural spoof created by Steve and Nancy Carell.
Why you should watch it: An homage to the Leslie Nielsen school of deadpan farce, Angie Tribeca revels in its drop-dead serious devotion to ridiculous humor. Fans of silly sight gags and absurd one-liners will find lots to appreciate, and folks like Lisa Kudrow, Danny Trejo, and Gene Simmons turn in hilarious cameos to up the laugh factor. It’s unclear if TBS will make season two — which premieres on June 6 — available in full, like they did with season one, but those of you who missed out on it during its first run can catch it on DVD on May 17.
Commitment: 3.5 hours
What it is: As a behind-the-scenes look at the reality competition television industry, UnREAL is a darkly compelling exploration of humanity vs. commercial success.
Why you should watch it: The fascination comes with the understanding that it is loosely based on the real life experience of showrunner Sarah Gertrude Shapiro. The show-within-a-show, Everlasting, can be compared to several reality dating competition shows currently airing, and the real tensions and drama occur behind the camera.
Commitment: Just over 7 hours