Television doesn’t sleep. The sheer amount of content—almost 500 scripted programs aired in the year 2019!—can prove overwhelming for even the most dedicated TV buffs. Television Academy voters make Emmy selections in August, and SAG-AFTRA members vote on SAG Awards in January, but their job requires tuning in all year long. Backstage is breaking down, month by month, the buzzy shows and performances that merit awards attention in the ever-growing landscape of the small screen. Mark your calendar and become a couch potato along with us!
May is blooming with new series—perfect for sheltering in place amid a pandemic. And with 2020 Emmys eligibility ending on May 31, networks and especially streaming services have plenty to offer couch potatoes.
Netflix dominates the month, with Ryan Murphy’s latest, “Hollywood,” a period drama set in the title’s namesake city; “The Eddy,” a musical drama from Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle; and “Space Force,” which reunites “The Office” stars Steve Carell, Greg Daniels, and Howard Klein in a new workplace comedy co-starring John Malkovich, Lisa Kudrow, Ben Schwartz, Noah Emmerich, Jessica St. Clair, Tawny Newsome, Fred Willard, Diana Silvers, and Jimmy O. Yang. Netflix also brings back a fan favorite with an interactive twist, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend”, a choose-your-own adventure style miniseries. On Hulu, Golden Globe-winning comedy “Ramy” returns for its second season; and from the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of “The Favourite” comes historical comedy “The Great,” starring Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great. And HBO Max, the newest streaming service from WarnerMedia Entertainment, will launch at the end of the month encompassing original programming, series from TNT and TBS, and more.
Stay safe and check out the full list of May TV premieres below!
ABC closes out the month with the seventh and final season of Joss Whedon’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
On May 18, Acorn TV, a streaming service dedicated to international programming, primarily from the UK, will launch its newest original series: “Dead Still,” a dramedy murder mystery set in the Victorian era starring Michael Smily of “Luther” and Kerr Logan of “Game of Thrones.” On the 4th, “Gold Digger” premieres; the miniseries was created by the BBC and is an Acorn TV exclusive.
Amazon Prime Video
Prime offers up two series this month. The first, a new comedy from Greg Daniels, “Upload,” arrives May 1. Robbie Amell and Andy Allo star in the satirical comedy set in the future where people close to death can “upload” themselves into their ideal afterlife. Returning on the 22nd is “Homecoming,” this time without producer-star Julia Roberts or original creator-director Sam Esmail. This buzzy new season diverges from the podcast that inspired it, and stars Janelle Monáe, Chris Cooper, and Joan Cusack alongside two members of the original cast, Hong Chau and Stephan James.
On the 4th, AMC will launch the first non-streaming debut of a 2019 Shudder original series, “Creepshow.” On May 29 comes the premiere of the miniseries “Quiz” which stars Matthew Macfadyen, Michael Sheen, and Sian Clifford in a drama about a man cheating and winning a TV game show in the UK.
The streaming service debuts the new comedy “Trying” on the 1st, a BB- produced and Apple-exclusive comedy starring Rafe Spall, Esther Smith, and Imelda Staunton.
Season 2 of primetime drama “The Oval,” starring Ed Quinn, Kron Moore, and Paige Hurd, returns on the 6th. And on BET’s streaming service, BET+, the newest Tyler Perry comedy “Bruh” launches on the 7th, featuring Barry Brewer, Mahdi Cocci, Phillip Mullings Jr., Chandra Currelley-Young, and Monti Washington.
This subscription service from BBC Studios and ITV offers plenty of streaming options if you’re looking for British TV. Launching May 12 is their new true-crime original: limited series “A Confession,” from writer Jeff Pope and director Paul Andrew Williams, starring the terrific Martin Freeman, Siobhan Finneran, and Imelda Staunton.
The newest DC Universe series, “Stargirl,” an adaptation of Geoff Johns’ comics, debuts on the 19th, and stars Courtney Whitmore, Joel McHale, Luke Wilson, Amy Smart, and Henry Thomas. The CW offers up two more shows this May; sci-fi drama “The 100” begins its seventh and final season, while on the 21st “Burden of Truth” launches its third outing.
On the first of the month, HBO launches the new dramedy “Betty,” spinning off the 2018 film “Skate Kitchen” which follows a group of female skateboarders in New York City. The film’s director and most of the cast return for the series. Delayed from its slated debut April 27, “I Know This Much Is True” will begin airing May 10. The buzzy limited series, adapted from Wally Lamb’s bestselling book of the same name, features Mark Ruffalo in dual rules as a pair of twins, as well as Rosie O’Donnell, Melissa Leo, Juliette Lewis, Kathryn Hahn, Imogen Poots, Rob Huebel, and Archie Panjabi.
Mark your calendars: the newest streaming service from AT&T and WarnerMedia, structured around HBO, launches May 27. Along with a large library of content, the streamer will kick off with its first original scripted series, “Love Life.” An anthology style romantic comedy series, the first season is slated to feature Anna Kendrick, Zoë Chao, Peter Vack, Sasha Compère, and Lesley Manville.
Golden Globe winner Ramy Youssef returns for his second season of “Ramy” May 29, now co-starring Oscar winner Mahershala Ali.
On the 8th, the newest iteration of Hulu horror anthology series “Into the Dark” will debut, “Into the Dark: Delivered.” The streaming service offers up a new comedy-drama-period series on the 15th: “The Great,” which stars Fanning as Catherine the Great alongside Nicholas Hoult, Phoebe Fox, and Adam Godley and comes from Tony McNamara, screenwriter of “The Favourite.”
On the 25th, the eight-part adaptation of Annie Proulx’s popular novel “Barkskins” debuts. Starring David Thewlis and Marcia Gay Harden, the miniseries is set in 17th-century Quebec; episodes will be available on Hulu after they’ve aired on the network.
The broadcast network launches the fifth and final season of crime drama “Blindspot,” starring Jaimie Alexander and Sullivan Stapleton, on May 7.
“Hollywood,” Ryan Murphy’s newest project dropping May 1, touts an all-star cast including Darren Criss, David Corenswet, Jeremy Pope, Laura Harrier, Patti LuPone, Dylan McDermott, Holland Taylor, and Maude Apatow in a stylized 1940s Los Angeles. Also on May 1, crime thriller “Reckoning” will be added to the platform. On the 8th, Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini return for Season 2 of Liz Feldman’s “Dead to Me.”
That same day, “The Eddy” debuts, starring André Holland, Joanna Kulig, Amandla Stenberg, and Tahar Rahim; the drama-musical, with original music by Glen Ballard and Randy Kerber, is set in Paris and comes from Chazelle, best known as the director of “La La Land.” On the 12th, Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Jane Krakowski, Carol Kane, and Jon Hamm of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” return for an interactive special entitled “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend.” Three more new series launch this month: international mystery thriller “White Lines” on the 15th, “Sweet Magnolias” based on the novel series by Sherryl Woods on the 19th, and “Space Force” on the 29th, with Carell finding himself in a new workplace comedy.
Drama series “Billions,” starring Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis, comes back for its fifth season on the 3rd, with Juliana Marguiles and Corey Stoll slated to make guest appearances. However, due to the coronavirus crisis, filming for the season was shut down early; the season’s final episodes will air later this year.
Starz launches its newest drama, “Hightown,” on the 17th. The series, set in picturesque Cape Cod, stars Monica Raymund and James Badge Dale.
On the 17th the new series “Snowpericer” debuts, inspired by Jacques Lob’s graphic novel and the film adaptation from “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho. Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly star in the post-apocalyptic thriller adapted by “Orphan Black” creator Graeme Manson, which has already been greenlit for a second season.
Check out Backstage’s TV audition listings!