Who needs other people's shows and movies? Netflix has morphed into a genuine entertainment network, debuting first or returning seasons of seven original shows — plus two of its own films. Netflix also will stream syndicated programs, such as Graceland and Young & Hungry. But those are sideshows to this month's offerings, which include the online network's first talk show and its first series in French. Should you make it through all the new programs this month, you can wind down with a few film classics from the '90s, '80s and '50s. (Warning: Because this is Netflix, it's unavoidable that some of the trailers noted here will include profanity.)
Bloodline: Season 2 (May 27)
Forget dysfunctional — the Rayburn family is downright scary in this Netflix drama. The brooding monster is eldest sibling Danny (played with frightening intensity by Ben Mendelsohn), the prodigal son who returns to upend the peace of a model family running a resort in the Florida Keys. At first, Danny seems like a mere misfit and lost soul, unfairly demonized by patriarch Robert (Sam Shepard), but as the story progresses, he slowly starts to look just plain demonic. At the end of Season 1, Golden child John (Kyle Chandler) finally has to take the ultimate step to protect his family. Given the incessant flashbacks/forwards of John carrying a body through the swamps, it's little surprise where this goes.
Chef's Table: Season 2, Part 1 (May 27)
If you love food and follow top chefs like others follow rock stars, log in for this Netflix documentary series that dedicates each episode to the life and art of a single cook. One really refreshing aspect of Season 1 and the upcoming Season 2 is that Netflix goes beyond the usual suspects and haunts. You won't see celebrity chef Mario Batali or the French Laundry's Thomas Keller. Yes, there are some other chefs in expected places like NYC and San Francisco, but also in Buenos Aires; Melbourne; Kobarid, Slovenia; Järpen, Sweden.
Chelsea (May 11)
Credit: NetflixComedian, author, actress and talk-show host Chelsea Handler is one of the few people recognizable by just her first name. She was the first (full-time) woman host of a U.S. late-night talk show. The show, Chelsea Lately, ran from 2007 to 2014, and featured the characteristic blunt humor that some people love about Handler and others may hate. She's back with her new talk show and Netflix's first, which will feature three episodes per week. To get a sense of the new show, look not to just to her old show but to the four Chelsea Does documentaries that ran recently on Netflix. In the docuseries, Handler takes on huge topics such as marriage, racism and drugs.
Grace and Frankie: Season 2 (May 6)
Age doesn't stop life from being steamy in this Netflix comedy series — a kind of odd-couple tale starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The two are longtime "frenemies," kept together by the close relationship between their respective husbands. In the first episode, prim and proper Grace (Fonda) and boho Frankie (Tomlin) learn how close that relationship has been. The two men are longtime lovers and have decided to marry and thus divorce their wives. What could have been a one-joke series about a changing society becomes instead a journey for all of the characters, each dealing with the realities of marriage and divorce. We've seen stories of newly single women trying to get their groove back in plenty of shows, such as Casual and Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce. But those two series show the realities of people dating again in their 40s; Fonda and Tomlin are in their late 70s and prove that life continues on.
Lady Dynamite: Season 1 (May 20)
Louie, Master of None, and now Lady Dynamite — another series based kind of on the real life of an actor/comedian. This time, Maria Bamford (the voice of so many animated characters) gets her turn in this frenetic spoof of her single midlife in show business. From what Netflix has shown, it appears to be closer to the cartoon craziness of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt than the subtleties of Aziz Ansari's Master of None.
Mako Mermaids: Season 4 (May 27)
Follow me now: There's an island in Australia with a secret community of mermaids living offshore. A teenage boy named Zac falls into the mermaid lair and magically becomes a merman. That's the first episode of this live action show; we're now on Season 4. Mako Mermaids follows the science of the movie Splash: Once your tail dries off, it turns into legs. That allows Zac (Chai Romruen) to travel between the land and sea worlds and lets a trio of his mermaid pals have teenage adventures in the world of humans. Netflix is the exclusive streaming outlet for this Aussie show.
Marseille (May 5)
France's second city has a reputation as a tough town, and it looks downright nasty in this local political thriller — Netflix's first French-language TV show (with English subtitles). French cinema titan Gérard Depardieu plays the outgoing mayor/political boss of the port city, who has chosen a successor to protect his interests after he officially leaves office. But the anointed successor reneges on the arrangement, and a nasty House of Cards-grade battle for the city ensues.
Movies and Specials
Ali Wong: Baby Cobra (May 6)
The first in the latest slate of Netflix comedy specials features actress, comedian and Comedy Central staple Ali Wong (Black Box) recounting the hilarious misadventures of just trying to find a nice guy, get married and have a kid. Bonus dash of reality: She delivers her 1-hour standup while 7 months pregnant.
The Do Over (May 27)
In Adam Sandler's second movie in a four-film deal with Netflix, the comedian and fellow funnyman David Spade team up as worn out middle-age men so sick of their old lives that they fake their deaths in order to start anew. But the identities they assume are of two guys in a heap of trouble with criminals and the law. In previews of the film, Spade shines as the uptight dad thrilled by the adventure Sandler offers him but is also regularly horrified at how far it goes.
Kevin Hart Presents: Keith Robinson; Lil Rel; Plastic Cup Boyz (May 1)
Netflix picks up a trio of sassy standup specials — produced by comedian Kevin Hart — that originally aired on Comedy Central. If you don't laugh at these, you might be dead inside.
The Last Man on the Moon (May 26)
Today, the U.S. doesn't even own a rocket that can get its own astronauts into orbit. But in the 1960s and 1970s, it ruled the heavens, sending six crews of astronauts to the surface of the moon. The golden era ended when the last of them, Gene Cernan, stepped off the surface. The Last Man on the Moon tells the story of the U.S. space program's heady years through the events of Cernan's own life.
Pleasantville (May 1)
Pleasantville is a film both cloyingly idealistic but outstanding for its cast of characters. Modern (1998) teen siblings, played by Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire, are transported into the world of an idyllic black-and-white TV show of the 1950s, called Pleasantville. The siblings introduce the repressed townsfolk to such modern concepts as teenage sex, modern art, expressive literature and simply not hiding their emotions. As the locals embrace these new temptations, they morph from black-and-white to color characters. In addition to Witherspoon and Maguire, the great cast includes William H. Macy, Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels, J.T. Walsh and even Don Knotts.
Sixteen Candles (May 1)
The first of the John Hughes "brat pack" movies of the 1980s introduced offbeat adorable Gen X icon Molly Ringwald as struggling teen Samantha Baker, whose family is so obsessed with the older sister's upcoming wedding that they forget Samantha's 16th birthday. Anthony Michael Hall is hysterical as the geek/wannabe lady killer Farmer Ted who pursues Samantha. Look closely for a little role by someone who became the biggest star of all the actors: John Cusack.
To Catch a Thief (May 1)
In this 1955 romantic thriller, Cary Grant stars as former cat burglar John Robie, who the police suspect has returned to his métier. To clear his name, he has to hunt down the new copycat burglar. Along the way, he falls for the gorgeous Frances Stevens, played by Grace Kelly. It's a great Hitchcock thriller. But frankly, it doesn't even need to be — just watching these two gorgeous actors with the breathtaking French Riviera in the background would be enough.
What Else to Stream
Already seen everything on this list? Check out our list of the best shows to binge watch to keep the stream going.