April showers bring lots of television?
Okay, no that’s not the saying. But once again it’s a busy TV month. American Idol says farewell on April 7 (our prediction: the show will return in less than five years). The delightful comedy Catastrophe is back for a second season on Amazon April 8. And fan favorite Orphan Black returns to BBC America on April 14.
Once again, we’ve culled through all the premieres to bring you the five new shows you can’t miss this April.
1. The Ranch
Creators: Jim Patterson and Don Reo
Stars: Ashton Kutchner, Danny Masterson, Sam Elliot, Debra Winger and Elisha Cuthbert
Premiere Date: April 1 on Netflix
There is so much to love about this Netflix comedy. The series reunites That 70’s Show co-stars Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson, and also brings together Debra Winger and Sam Elliot. The latter are such a natural pairing that I did an extensive Google search just to confirm they’ve never worked together before. They haven’t, and it’s about damn time. Kutcher stars as Colt, a never-quite-made-it football player who returns home to Colorado to help his dad (Elliot) and his brother (Masterson) run the family ranch. Kutcher and Masterson share the easy rapport of longtime friends and co-stars, so they’re quickly believable as brothers. But what really makes The Ranch work is that it’s a traditional multi-camera sitcom… that’s not so traditional. The series isn’t afraid to explore darker themes, but you’ll still find yourself laughing.
2. The Girlfriend Experience
Creators: Steven Soderbergh, Amy Seimetz and Lodge Kerrigan
Stars: Riley Keough, Paul Sparks, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Kate Lyn Sheil
Premiere Date: April 10 on Starz
Christine Reader (Riley Keough) is a second year law student with a prestigious law firm internship. Like many students, she needs money… and gets pulled into the world of high-end prostitution. She provides her clients with the, you guessed it, girlfriend experience. Based on Soderbergh’s 2009 movie of the same name, the series, of course, has a fondness for nudity and sex scenes (this is Starz, after all). But it also goes beyond the good-girl-goes-bad trope to offer up an intriguing drama.
3. The Last Panthers
Creators: Jerome Pierrat and Jack Thorne
Stars: Samantha Morton, Tahar Rahim, and Goran Bogdan
Premiere Date: April 13 on Sundance
The series, which has already been nominated for a BAFTA TV Award, is based on the work of French journalist Jerome Pierrat. The Last Panthers follows a jewel heist in Marseilles and is a true international production. It was filmed in UK, France, Serbia and Montenegro and features three languages. Need another reason to watch? The late David Bowie sings the show’s theme song “Blackstar,” which is also the title track from his last album. Apparently Bowie was inspired to write the song after a screening of the series. You can hear the song in the above teaser, and watch the full trailer here.
Executive Producers: Michael London, Janice Williams, Kerry Washington, and Susannah Grant.
Stars: Kerry Washington, Wendell Pierce, Greg Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Eric Stonestreet and Jennifer Hudson
Premiere Date: April 16 on HBO
Coming right on the series finale of The People vs. O.J. Simpson, Confirmation explores another pivotal moment in recent history that forever changed America. Kerry Washington stars as Anita Hill, a lawyer who accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas (Wendell Pierce) of sexual harassment years earlier, and is called to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The proceedings riveted America and brought sexual harassment and workplace equality into the forefront of our conversation. Of course we know how this case ends too (Judge Thomas is still on the Supreme Court today), but that doesn’t make reliving it any less fascinating, or important.
5. Night Manager
Executive Producers: John Le Carré , Simon Cornwell, Stephen Cornwell, Stephen Garrett, David Farr, and Susanne Bier
Stars: Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander, and Elizabeth Debicki
Premiere Date: April 19 on AMC
Hugh Laurie, the irascible Dr. House, returns to TV in this six-episode miniseries based on a John le Carre novel. Laurie is Richard Onslow Roper, an international businessman, who has built his wealth in illegal arms dealings. Intelligence operative Angela Burr (Olivia Coleman) and British soldier Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) are the ones trying to infiltrate Roper’s criminal empire to bring him down. Get ready for a tantalizing game of cat and mouse, as Pine must become as nasty as Roper in order to be welcomed into the fold.
Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal ®, is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.