No doubt about it, the streaming business is in a dark mood this week. Starring Andrew Garfield and based on writer Jon Krakauer’s true-crime best-seller, Hulu’s long-anticipated Under the Banner of Heaven will focus on the suburban Utah double murder of a mother and her infant child. Not bleak enough? The last seven hours of the Netflix hit Ozark will certainly bring you some uneasy closure. And if that’s still not deep enough of an abyss for you to crawl out of, Apple TV Plus has Shining Girls, starring the ever–reliable Elisabeth Moss as a survivor out to show a serial killer that it’s no fun when the rabbit has the gun. Oh, and documentary about the Three Mile Island disaster should cheer you up, too. Happy streaming.
Under the Banner of Heaven (Hulu, April 28)
This long-awaited Hulu series starring Andrew Garfield is based on Jon Krakauer’s best-selling true-crime book about the 1984 Salt Lake City murders of Brenda Wright Lafferty and her baby daughter. The killers, brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, were members of the School of Prophets, a small fundamentalist Mormon group. Garfield plays Jeb Pyre, a Mormon cop whose faith is shaken by the crime. Oscar-winning writer Dustin Lance Black (Milk) produced the seven-episode series, which, so far, has scored an aggregated 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. From the start, Under the Banner of Heaven demonstrates a quiet confidence. Brenda’s death supplies the narrative suspense, but it’s the show’s sense of empathy that proves truly difficult to shake,” he wrote The Hollywood Reporter’s Angie Han.
The Offer (Paramount Plus, April 28)
Paramount Plus is hoping to mine its studio legacy with this 10-part series about the making of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 classic film The Godfather. Michael Tolkin (Escape from Dannemora, The Player) wrote the series, which is told through the eyes of Hollywood producer Albert S. Ruddy. The series gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at Ruddy’s tumultuous attempts to get an adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel off the ground at Paramount. While the first few episodes of the series only scored an aggregated score of 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, some critics find the series compelling. TV Guide’s Keith Phipps wrote “The Offer doesn’t get everything right. But as a story of a gang of misfits banding together to accomplish something none of them could do alone, it’s a nicely acted and frequently involving (if hyperextended) bit of storytelling.” The series’ first three episodes will launch on premiere day. Following the premiere, the remaining seven episodes will be available to stream weekly on Thursdays.
The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin – Part 2 (HBO Max, April 28)
The first three parts of the series, released in September, examined the Tennessee-based Remnant Fellowship Church founded by Gwen Shamblin, who rose to fame with her Christian-based diet program the Weigh Down Workshop. The Fellowship, it turns out, was a misogynistic cult led by an exploitative Shamlin, who preached thinness. The result was plenty of hunger pains, child abuse and murder. The last two episodes of the series focus on the fallout of Shamblin’s untimely death after her private plane crashed in May 2021. With Shamblin out of the picture, former survivors of The Fellowship come forward in the docuseries’ last two episodes to share their experiences.
Dear Mr. Brody (Discovery Plus, April 28)
In 1970, 21-year-old Michael Brody Jr. publicly announced that he was going to give away his $25 million fortune to anyone who asked. Not surprisingly, Brody was met with 15 minutes of fame and then overwhelmed by personal letters from across the country asking for his money. Dear Mr. Brody Tell the story of the stunt using archival footage, animation, recreations and interviews with the letter writers themselves. Director Keith Maitland (Tower) also incorporates letters that were never opened into the documentary, which allow for, according to Variety’s Nick Schager “a poignant, multifaceted investigation of universal dreams, desires and heartbreaking struggles.” The doc has been a favorite at film festivals including Tribeca and South by Southwest.
Ozark – Season 4 Part 2 (Netflix, April 29)
The latter half of the fourth and final season of Ozark should be the most suspenseful seven episodes of the entire series. That’s because Marty (Jason Bateman) and Wendy’s (Laura Linney) fates will finally be determined. The first seven episodes of Season 4 followed the Byrdes as they dealt with the aftermath of Helen’s death. The second half of the season will focus on the couple’s desire to rid themselves of the Ozarks and return to normalcy. That, presumably, won’t happen because Ruth is seriously pissed, and the Navarro empire isn’t going to disappear. Critics, who have warmed to this story about a Chicago financial planner who relocates his family to the Missouri Ozarks to launder money, evidenced by the 93% score for Season 4 on Rotten Tomatoes. “This Netflix drama remains among TV’s best, unfolding with a perpetual state of dread,” wrote CNN TV critic Brian Lowry. A retrospective documentary titled A Farewell to Ozark about the success of the show will also be available to stream.
Shining Girls (Apple TV Plus, April 29)
Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, The Handmaid’s Tale) stars in and executive produced this adaptation of Lauren Beukes 2013 eponymous novel. The series is about a drifter named Harper Curtis (Jamie Bell) who kills bright young women with extreme potential. That is until one of his victims Kirby Mazrachi (Moss) survives and begins hunting him. From Mad Men to The Handmaid’s Tale, Moss has one heck of a career batting average, so this eight-episodes series, which thus far has scored an aggregated 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, seems promising. “The first four episodes are built with a precision worth appreciating on its own. Trust is earned steadily. Each narrative choice feels purposeful. So, when events shift from what’s expected of prestige crime thrillers, you’re already on board,” wrote IndieWire’s Ben Travers. Following the three-episode premiere, five subsequent episodes of Shining Girls will debut weekly, with the season finale airing June 3.
Ziwe – Season 2 (Showtime, May 1)
The mononymous Instagram comedian is back to ask a new round of celebrities about touchy topics. The sophomore season of the late-night variety series features interviews with Chet, Hanks, Emily Ratajkowski, Ilana Glazer, Hannibal Buress, Nicole Byer, Mia Khalifa and Adam Pally. Season 1 scored an aggregated 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. “Ziwe plainly takes the issues around race in America quite seriously; the way she expresses that is, as the best comics throughout history have done, turning everything into a joke,” wrote Variety’s Daniel D’Addario.
Meltdown: Three Mile Island (Netflix, May 4)
Oscar nominated director Kief Davidson (The Ivory Game) uses reenactments, archival footage, never-before-seen home video, and talking-head interviews to describe the worst nuclear incident in US history. The four-part documentary explains how and why the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania suffered a breakdown in March 1979. The series goes on to investigate how that breakdown impacted residences and led to chief engineer Richard Parks becoming a whistleblower.
Disney Gallery: The Book of Boba Fett (Disney Plus, May 4)
If you’re interested in how Jon Favreau made the Disney television series The Book of Boba Fett a reality, then this behind-the-scenes documentary is worth a watch. Filmmakers, cast, and crew reveal what it took from a technological and logistic standpoint to make the legendary bounty hunter the star of a live action series. This is not the first time Disney has made a documentary about one of their successful series. Two years ago to the day — May the Fourth — Disney released Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian. New content that doesn’t cost a whole lot of money to make about a fan-favorite? It’s a no-brainer.
El Marginal (Netflix, May 4)
While Netflix did grow its Argentine originals production slate significantly last year, the streaming service has been behind El Marginal since 2016. Netflix acquired the crime thriller after the first season aired on Argentine public television. Considered one of the most celebrated Argentina series, El Marginal Takes place in the Onofre prison, a dangerous environment chock-full of convicts, plenty of illegal activities and an ex-cop who goes undercover to infiltrate a prison gang. The series, which resembles Money Heist and Narcos in tone, has won several prominent Argentine awards including the Golden Martín Fierro and Tato awards.