The best TV shows to stream in April

The best TV shows to stream in April

By Craig Mathieson

Jack O’Connell in Rogue Heroes, Zachary Ruane in Aunty Donna’s Coffee Cafe and Betty Gilpin in Mrs Davis.Credit:SBS, ABC, Colleen Hayes/Peacock

Not that I’m looking for a new job, but if I ever left my critic’s post I would very much like the gig of trawling through an entertainment company’s vaults to find the next show to reboot. Making the most of your existing IP address is a corporate obsession in the streaming age – studios trade on familiar titles or otherwise turn a comedy into a drama for a curious young audience – and I am forever obsessed with what gets dusted off and done up.

There’s no shortage of new shows to watch in April, but two sum up the extremes of our reboot age. We’re getting a new take on David Cronenberg’s unhinged Dead Ringers, a cerebral movie that did for gynaecologists what Marathon Man did for dentists (i.e. freak people out), plus a prequel to Grease with Rise of the Pink Ladies, a musical origin story about the sassy girl gang.

Don’t worry if neither show interests you, there are plenty of options to choose from in April. As ever, please don’t forget to tell us in the comments about shows you’ve found that we missed – and, maybe, which shows you’d like to see rebooted.

Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.


Keri RussellCredit:Alex Bailey/Netflix

My top Netflix recommendation is The Diplomat (April 20).

In Keri Russell we trust. She’s a master at holding complex emotions beneath a studied surface. It’s always worth checking out a series Russell is headlining, whether it’s The Americans or Felicity. Here she plays American diplomat Kate Wyler, a discreet and accomplished fixer in the halls of international power who finds herself in the public eye when she’s unexpectedly made ambassador to the UK. Crafted by Debora Cahn, a veteran of The West Wing and Homeland, The Diplomat covers hot-button global issues, but there’s also a touch of acerbic comedy. Madame Secretary meets Veep is a tall order, but you’d back Russell to make it work.

Also on Netflix: Beef (April 6) is a black comedy about two strangers – played by stand-up spitfire Ali Wong and The Walking Dead star Steven Yeun – whose carpark stand-off swiftly escalates to road rage and out-of-control revenge. The suggestion that they’re alike and equally flawed is one of the ideas at play in this series, which was put together by American writer Lee Sung Jin (Undone, Dave). The two talented leads have different performing styles, but if they establish the right dynamic, this series could, well, sizzle.

It’s not exactly breaking news that Florida appears to be the US state with the most outsized collection of shiny-faced grifters and seriously deluded dudes; there’s a reason the Florida Man meme is so popular. Florida Man (April 13), a comic detective noir, leans into that. Edgar Ramirez (Zero Dark Thirty) plays Mike Valentine, a bottomed-out former police detective from Philadelphia who reluctantly returns to his home state to search for a gangster’s missing girlfriend. It most certainly will not go smoothly. Australians dot the promising supporting cast, with Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road) as Mike’s quarry and Anthony LaPaglia (Lantana) as his father.

March highlights: Netflix got into the wilderness survival genre with Outlast, took down the wellness industry with the Australian comedy Wellmania, and delivered the muscly South Korean competition Physical: 100.


My top Binge recommendation is Mrs Davis (April 21).

With Lost, The Leftovers and Watchmen, Damon Lindelof has become one of television’s premier creative voices. The American showrunner likes puzzle-box mysteries with stylistic flourishes and audacious twists. His latest series, created with Tara Hernandez, is very on brand: a warrior nun (Glow’s Betty Gilpin) dedicates herself to destroying an artificial intelligence whose algorithms have become central to people’s lives. If that sounds like the bleak endgame of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the trailer for Mrs Davis suggests a solid streak of absurd humour and social satire. Can’t wait for ChatGPT to see this.

Also on Binge: This is the year HBO’s hits conclude. Succession is already in its coruscating final run, while the fourth season of Barry (April 17) will also be its last. The series, a black comedy meets existential drama about a hitman who pursues an acting career in Hollywood, has far exceeded its potential – the second and third season were compelling television. The new episodes will pick up with Barry Berkman (comic and co-creator Bill Hader) in jail, following his arrest at the end of season three. Fingers crossed all goes well for Henry Winkler’s Gene Cousineau, Barry’s put-upon acting coach.

Elizabeth Olsen has been in Marvel’s orbit for most of the last decade, playing Scarlet Witch in a slew of Avengers movies and the television spin-off WandaVision. In Love & Death (April 27), Olsen puts the superpowers aside in favour of a historic crime drama. She plays Candy Montgomery, a Texan housewife who was infamously accused of the murder of her friend, Betty Gore (Lily Rabe), in 1980 after having an affair with Gore’s husband. The prolific David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies, The Undoing) created the limited series, which follows last year’s Disney+ series Candy, starring Jessica Biel as Montgomery.

March highlights: The return of Succession proved irresistible, Rain Dogs became the first essential new show of 2023 and Perry Mason maintained its status as a quiet achiever.


My top Stan recommendation is Blindspotting (April 14).

The first season of this American comedy-drama flew under the radar in 2021, but it delivered a thoughtfully frank and fractiously funny depiction of the kind of working-class blended family thrown together by economic and emotional needs. The second season will continue the up-and-down travails of Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones) who, together with her young son, has to move in with her mother-in-law (Helen Hunt) after her partner is incarcerated. The show dives into race, inequality and the bonds of friendship, rightfully earning a comparison to Spike Lee’s movies.

Also on Stan: Sam Neill and Christoph Waltz is such an intriguing combination that you’d happily watch the pair in conversation. Australian movie The Portable Door (April 7) makes even better use of the duo, casting them as the eccentric antagonists in an idiosyncratic fantasy thriller about lowly interns (Patrick Gibson and Sophie Wilde) at a mysterious London company who begin to suspect that their superiors (Neill and Waltz) have gone rogue.

March highlights: Bob Odenkirk followed up Better Call Saul with the knotty academic comedy Lucky Hank, while Dawn of the Dolphins was a boon for rugby league fans.

Amazon Prime

My top Amazon Prime recommendation is Dead Ringers (April 21).

Okay, I’m intrigued. This limited series gender flips David Cronenberg’s creepy 1988 psychological drama starring Jeremy Irons as twin gynaecologists who posed as one another when seducing patients and fell into a spiral of drug addiction and illegal surgery. It is prime Cronenberg; cool to the touch and deeply unsettling. This adaptation is by British playwright Alice Birch, while twins Elliott and Beverly Mantle will be played by Rachel Weisz. She has been pushing her own boundaries in recent years in films including Disobedience and The Favourite. Don’t be surprised if this is intensely divisive.

Also on Amazon Prime: Jeff Bezos clearly isn’t afraid to foot the bill. Having backed the most expensive television show ever with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Amazon Prime is reportedly giving us the second most expensive series. Citadel (April 28) is a globetrotting espionage-action blockbuster starring Richard Madden (Bodyguard) and Priyanka Chopra (Quantico) as international operatives. Who put this Mission: Impossible-like project together? Executive producers Joe and Anthony Russo are the brothers responsible for Avengers: Endgame and The Grey Man.

What will be the final punchline of The Marvellous Mrs Maisel (April 14)? The fifth season of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s idiosyncratic period comedy/drama about the struggles of a pioneering female comic will conclude the series. Having got her career back on track, housewife turned mic-drop master Miriam Maisel (the terrific Rachel Brosnahan) gets one last chance at success and satisfaction in ’60s New York.

March highlights: Zealous fandom reached a homicidal pitch in the bloody, subversive drama Swarm, 1970s music drama Daisy Jones & The Six was catnip for Fleetwood Mac fans, Class of ’07 was a raucous post-apocalyptic Australian comedy about the pitfalls of female solidarity, and The Power gave us a radical vision of female empowerment.

Apple TV+

My top Apple TV+ recommendation is The Last Thing He Told Me (April 14).

When handled well, the ‘who are you really married to?’ thriller is a proven winner. Think Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca or David Fincher’s Gone Girl. American author Laura Dave hit it big in 2021 with her bestselling take on the genre, The Last Thing He Told Me. Dave’s page-turning novel has now been adapted as a limited series by Dave and Josh Singer (Spotlight). Jennifer Garner plays Hannah, whose life implodes when her husband, Owen (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), suddenly disappears, leaving behind a bag of cash and FBI agents in hot pursuit. Hannah’s only ally in her search for the real Owen turns out to be her mistrustful teenage stepdaughter, Bailey (Australian Angourie Rice, fresh from Mare of Easttown).

Also on Apple TV+: The glossy romantic comedy meets action-adventure mash-up is back. Ghosted (April 21) updates Mr and Mrs Smith (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) and Knight and Day (Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz), with former Captain America Chris Evans playing Cole, a smitten everyman who gets ignored by Ana de Armas’ Sadie after one perfect date. When he flies to London to surprise her, Cole discovers that she works as a CIA agent, leading to run-and-gun banter as Sadie tries to keep him alive. Rocketman director Dexter Fletcher has the tricky job of making two movies work as one.

March highlights: The feelgood comedy Ted Lasso returned with a third and final season, while The Big Door Prize was a wry science-fiction fable about knowing your true potential.


My top Disney+ recommendation is Tiny Beautiful Things (April 7).

Kathryn Hahn is the accelerant every series needs. After playing a lovelorn rabbi in Transparent and serving delicious villain in WandaVision, Hahn is now in her leading lady era. She plays Clare Pierce, a writer with a fractured marriage and defiant teenage daughter who finds unexpected sustenance in writing an advice column. The series includes flashbacks in which the 22-year-old Clare (Sarah Pidgeon) wrestles with her own mother, played by the great Merritt Wever (Unbelievable). Liz Tigelaar (Little Fires Everywhere) adapted the autobiographical book by Cheryl Strayed (Wild). There’s definitely an uplifting tone, but I have faith that Hahn will make it messy, complicated, and liberating.

Also on Disney+: I am suspicious, probably with good reason, about authorised sports documentaries. Too often gaining insider access to an elite team means a careful curation of what we eventually see. Nonetheless, I’m interested in Matildas: World at Our Feet (April 26), if only because Australia’s women’s national soccer team, captained by superstar striker Sam Kerr, have built a huge following in this country while also being ranked in the top 10 globally. And if you’re not across the team, this could be the perfect primer before Australia hosts the Women’s World Cup in July.

March highlights: Mel Brooks proved he still has it with the sketch comedy sequel History of the World: Part II, Kerry Washington starred in the new comic-drama Unprisoned, and the new season of The Mandalorian delivered the Star Wars feels.

ABC iview

My top ABC iview recommendation is Aunty Donna’s Coffee Cafe (April 12).

Having gone global with their 2020 Netflix sketch series Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun, the Melbourne comedy trio return home with this six-part series for the ABC. It’s notionally a sitcom, set in a cafe operated by the chaotic combination of Broden Kelly, Zachary Ruane and Mark Samual Bonnano. In truth, that’s just a framework for their madcap concepts, absurdist segues and bizarre meta-commentary. The show covers plenty of ground, much of it hilarious, and will probably spawn a catchphrase to equal “don’t get in the kiln” or “everything’s a drum”. My money’s on “cat soup for the children”.

March highlights: The Zoe Coombs Marr documentary Queerstralia filled vital gaps in Australia’s LGBTQ history, Turn Up the Volume was a vivid depiction of young female musicians, and Under the Vines was an appealing romantic comedy.

SBS On Demand

My top SBS On Demand recommendation is Rogue Heroes (April 5).

Already a huge hit for the BBC – a second season has been commissioned – this World War II action-drama is a sardonic, bloody mix of Catch-22 and Inglourious Basterds. Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight adapted Ben Macintyre’s non-fiction book about the birth of the Special Air Service, Britain’s elite military unit, as a desperate ploy during the North African campaign by a group of maverick army officers to fight not only Nazi Germany but their own hidebound commanding officers. The full-tilt action gets an AC/DC soundtrack and the headline cast, particularly Connor Swindells and Jack O’Connell, enjoy one juicy monologue after another as soldiers whose lives only make sense when they’re fighting everyone possible, including themselves.

March highlights: Exemplary lead performances set up the British friendship drama Mayflies and there was much to learn from the documentary The Elon Musk Show.

Other streamers

My top recommendation for the other streaming services is BritBox’s Ladhood (April 13).

This will be the third and final season of Liam William’s autobiographical British comedy, which in a small feat of screen alchemy managed to be both daft and heartrending. The dual structure – Williams plays a moribund 34-year-old version of himself, while Oscar Kennedy plays him as an optimistic 18-year-old ready to take on the world – lets the show delve into memory, contrasting viewpoints, and the highs and lows of life at either age. The episodes always bestow empathy and understanding on young Liam and his teenage pals.

Also: There’s a Glee vibe to the Paramount+ series Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies (April 7), a musical-drama prequel to the iconic 1978 movie starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. We’re talking 1950s high-school cliques, fabulous production numbers, and a defiant faith in the power of outcasts to triumph. Set four years before the events of Grease, the story charts the formation of Rydell High’s unconventional girl gang. Can anyone match the screen presence of Stockard Channing’s Rizzo? That’s a big ask, but Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies is sure to make a song and dance about it.

March highlights: New episodes for the addictive Yellowjackets (Paramount+) confirmed it as a hit in the making, while The Confessions of Frannie Langton blew up the British period romance genre and built something fresh from the rubble.

* Nine is the owner of Stan, 9Now and this masthead.

Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.

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