If the April showers (and the general state of the world) have got you down, don’t forget that there’s always new friends to be made on the small and streaming screen. This month sees the returns of some old favorites after coronavirus-related production delays, along with final outings for two fan-favorites and sophomore efforts from the new shows on the block. Now get to binging!
What it is: Elliot Stabler is back! Law & Order: Organized Crime kicked off its highly anticipated premiere with a two-hour crossover event with Law & Order: SVU. The new series sees Stabler’s (Christopher Meloni) return to the NYPD after a life-altering personal loss. But just as the character has changed in the last 10 years, so, too, has the world he’s reentering, and he must learn to lead this new elite task force anew. Mariska Hargitay helps ring in the new series as SVU’s hero (and Stabler’s ex-partner) Olivia Benson, who’s now captain of New York City’s Special Victims Unit.
Why you should watch it: For this one, it should come as no surprise we’re recommending you binge the original Law & Order: SVU to see the beloved Benson and Stabler in action. Meloni and his Stabler exited the series after 12 seasons in 2011 after the character shot and killed a rape victim’s daughter when she came armed and firing into the precinct; behind the scenes, dissatisfaction with contract negotiations reportedly also played a role in his offscreen departure. But that doesn’t taint the adrenaline and joy his episodes inspire today. To know the Stabler that you see in Organized Crime, you have to learn where he came from. Law & Order: Organized Crime premiered April 1 on NBC (starting with a crossover with SVU in episode “Return of the Prodigal Son” followed by Organized Crime episode “What Happens in Puglia“). New episodes air at 9 p.m. on Thursdays.
Commitment: Approx. 200 hours (for the first 12 seasons)
What it is: It’s a rags-to-riches tale as old as time. Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga) is forced to flee Mexico after her drug cartel boyfriend is murdered and the drug ring responsible for his death comes after her. After crossing the border to the United States, she settles down in Dallas, Texas, and slowly builds a drug smuggling empire of her own.
Why you should watch it: Centered by a dedicated and emotionally rigorous performance from Braga, creators M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller’s adaptation of the popular telenovela La Reina del Sur has had us hooked for four seasons and counting. Catch up before its fifth and final season premieres April 7 on USA Network.
Commitment: Approx. 35.5 hours (for the first four seasons)
What it is: Following Nicholas (comedian and actor Josh Thomas), a gay 20-something who’s forced to care for his two teen sisters after their single father’s death, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay finds the sweet spot between fish-out-of-water humor and coming-of-age pathos.
Why you should watch it: Those familiar with Australian creator, showrunner, and star Thomas’ Please Like Me will have plenty to love about Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, a second, more mainstream showcase of his bristling-but-humane humor and unexpected heart. That the charming dramedy is also a showcase for diverse narratives and themes bolstered by scene-stealer Kayla Cromer (who herself is on the autism spectrum) just adds to its impact. Season 2 premieres April 8 on Freeform.
Commitment: Approx. 5 hours (for the first season)
What it is: Created by Trent O’Donnell and Patrick Brammall, who also stars, this comedy follows pairs of colleagues involved a major drug cartel operation and bust: two cops, two criminals, two dispatch workers, and two Mexican tunnelers.
Why you should watch it: Sometimes the best comedy comes from simple conversation. That’s what’s explored here in the monotonous day-to-day musings of the series’ ensemble of duos. Relying on airtight writing and exemplary performances from the likes of Tim Meadows, Amy Sedaris, Jesse Plemons, Arturo Castro, and Will Ferrell (who also executive produces with Adam McKay), it’s the kind of smart, rat-a-tat humor that keeps you coming back for more. Season 4 premieres April 8 on Paramount+.
Commitment: Approx. 12 hours (for the first three seasons)
What it is: Sex and the City helmer Darren Star struck gold again with city-dwelling women of a certain age with Younger, starring theater vet and now small-screen charmer Sutton Foster as a single mother who lies about her age to pursue her dreams in publishing.
Why you should watch it: Foster is absolutely pitch-perfect in this fun, sexy, metropolitan comedy, and she’s matched by a bevy of scene-stealing costars: Miriam Shor, Hilary Duff, Nico Tortorella, and Debi Mazar, who are all stellar and grow in exciting and unexpected ways over the years. Get to know them all before Younger’s seventh and final season premieres April 15 on Paramount+.
Commitment: Approx. 30 hours (for the first six seasons)
What it is: Many are used to stories about the vampire slayer Van Helsing being rooted in the past of Transylvania, but showrunner Jonathan Walker’s Canadian import Van Helsing forwards the clock to a post-apocalyptic world overrun and controlled by vampires. Kelly Overton stars as Vanessa Helsing, a descendant of Abraham Van Helsing who awakens from a coma with the ability to turn vampires human — and as mankind’s last hope for survival.
Why you should watch it: A clever and engrossing take on the well-worn world of vampires, Van Helsing offers plenty for fans of bloodsucking monsters and action-thriller ensemble pieces to sink their teeth into. Season 5 premieres April 16 on Syfy.
Commitment: Approx. 52 hours (for the first four seasons)
What it is: Forest Whitaker stars as the real-life mobster Bumpy Johnson, who after a decade behind bars, returns to his home turf to find 1960s Harlem is different from the one he once ruled.
Why you should watch it: A TV prequel to 2007’s American Gangster with Denzel Washington, this Emmy-winning series from creators Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein features Oscar-winner Whitaker in peak, fearsome form and has supporting turns from the likes of Lucy Fry, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Giancarlo Esposito, Vincent D’Onofrio, and others to match. Season 2 premieres April 18 on Epix.
Commitment: Approx. 9 hours (for the first season)
What it is: Set in a not-too-distant future and adapted from Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed novel of the same name, The Handmaid’s Tale is the harrowing imagining of a society in which few people are able to have children and fertile women are forced into sexual slavery to help procreate for the rich and powerful. A gripping and prescient look at toxic patriarchy’s darkest corners, it truly is must-watch TV.
Why you should watch it: The Handmaid’s Tale stands as the first and only streaming series to take home the Television Academy’s top honor: the Emmy for best drama. We’d follow its formidable cast — Elisabeth Moss, Ann Dowd, Joseph Fiennes, Alexis Bledel, Samira Wiley, and O-T Fagbenle among them — and behind-the-camera creatives anywhere, maybe even to Gilead. Season 4 finally premieres April 28 on Hulu.
Commitment: Approx. 32 hours (for the first three seasons)