9 best new TV shows to watch this week on Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO Max

Best new TV shows May 21
(Image credit: Amazon; Warner Bros; Netflix)

With the long Memorial Day weekend looming, we’ve found the best new TV shows for you to watch while you continue social distancing. Yes, we’ve got recommendations to help you through these uncertain times, with new shows and movies to watch on TV, Netflix, Amazon and HBO Max (yes, a completely new streaming service is launching this week).

Even with so many options, do you feel like you’ve watched everything there is to watch? You haven’t. I basically watch TV as my job and even with no other outlets for entertainment, I’ve barely scratched the surface. Not only is there a vast library of content out there, new series and films are coming out Every. Single. Day. 

That’s why we have a handy guide to what to watch this week, as well as some notable and interesting highlights.

The best new TV shows to watch this week (May 21-27)

Red Nose Day special

Best new TV shows: Red Nose Day special

(Image credit: NBC)

Thursday, May 21 at 9 p.m. on NBC 

The annual charity special promoting the campaign to end child poverty usually brings out a ton of big celebrities. This year is no different … except that everyone is social distancing, of course. This Is Us stars Mandy Moore and Justin Hartley host, with musical performances from The Voice coaches Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson. 

This isn’t just an NBC lovefest, though. You can also expect appearances by Julia Roberts, John Legend, Jennifer Garner, Ricky Gervais, Paul Rudd, Bryan Cranston and Meghan Trainor.

Homecoming season 2

Best new TV shows: Homecoming season 2

(Image credit: Amazon)

Friday, May 22 at 3 a.m. on Amazon Prime Video (all 7 episodes)

If you missed the first season of this excellent series (based on the hit podcast of the same name), you’ll definitely want to binge that first. Luckily, episodes clock in around half an hour — a rarity for dramas but a welcome one. Season 2 expands the story while taking it in a new direction, now that Julia Roberts is no longer the lead. 

Instead, Janelle Monae plays a woman who wakes up in a rowboat adrift in a lake, with no memory of how she got there — or even who she is. Her search for answers leads her to the Geist Group, the shadowy organization at the center of season 1’s mystery. 

Reprising their roles are Stephan James as Walter Cruz, who’s trying to rebuild his life after the traumas of war and the Homecoming Initiative, and Hong Chau as Audrey Temple, a Geist employee who unexpectedly vaults to the top of the corporate ladder. It's an easy call to say that Homecoming season 2 has potential to be one of the best new TV shows.

Watch it on Amazon

The Lovebirds movie

Best new TV shows: The Lovebirds

(Image credit: Netflix)

Friday, May 22 at 3 a.m. on Netflix 

Honestly, I’d watch Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani play Sudoku separately. Put them together in a murder mystery/comedy? Yes, yes and more yes. They play a quarreling couple who seem on the verge of breaking up when they inadvertently become embroiled in a crime.

Afraid that they’ll be on the hook for a murder, the two decide to investigate it themselves — all while squabbling, bantering and tossing around witty asides. Nanjiani and Rae are such talented, funny pros that they can do just about anything. This is exactly the kind of easy-breezy movie everyone will want to watch right now.

Watch it on Netflix

30 for 30: Lance premiere

Best new TV shows: 30 for 30 Lance

(Image credit: Sundance)

Sunday, May 24 at 9 p.m. on ESPN

Now that the Last Dance Michael Jordan documentary is over, we have room in our schedules to watch another insightful tale of a different sports legend — Lance Armstrong. This two-part, four-hour film chronicles the revered, then infamous cyclist from Texas through his seven consecutive Tour de France wins, his battle with testicular cancer and his very public, very hard fall after being exposed in a doping scandal. 

The documentary features interviews with Armstrong himself, as well as family, friends, teammates and rivals. Just like Last Dance, Lance aims to paint a nuanced portrait of a complex athlete who achieved the highest levels of success — at a price. For both sports fans, and those of docudramas, Lance definitely looks like one of the best new TV shows.

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas 

Best new TV shows: Hannah Gadsby Douglas

(Image credit: Netflix)

Tuesday, May 26 at 3 a.m. on Netflix

After putting all her “trauma eggs into one basket like a f—-ing idiot,” what does Gadsby have to talk about? Oh, plenty. The Australian’s 2018 special Nanette was an astonishing tour de force that ignited interesting discussions about the nature of comedy. It was a standup performance skewering standup. 

Now, she’s back, holding forth on everything from dogs (the special is named after one of hers) to the High Renaissance to the Americanization of her pronunciation and language. She loves y’all. And y’all can’t help but love her in return. 

Watch it on Netflix

America’s Got Talent season 15 premiere

Best new TV shows: America's Got Talent season 15

(Image credit: NBC)

Tuesday, May 26 at 8 p.m. on NBC

It’s not often that a venerable reality series like AGT generates controversy in its twilight years, but that’s just what happened when it booted judges Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union last fall. America's Got Talent is papering over the whole thing by adding new judge Sofia Vergara, fresh off Modern Family, who’ll join longtime panelists Howie Mandel and Simon Cowell. Not only will there be a new face at the judges’ table, the whole show will have a new look due to the pandemic. 

While some audition rounds were filmed before production shut down in mid-March, the producers re-opened online submissions. So, performers will get to sing, dance, juggle, puppeteer or whatever else from their homes and receive remote critiques from the judges. America’s Got Talent … in quarantine.

Love Life season 1

New TV Shows: Love Life

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Wednesday, May 27 at 3 a.m. on HBO Max

Yes, there is yet another new streaming service on the block. HBO Max launches May 27 with a massive back catalog of shows and movies, as well as a handful of original series, in a bid to compete with the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Disney Plus. Among the originals (and the only scripted series targeted to adults) is this romantic dramedy starring the always-delightful Anna Kendrick. 

She plays Darby, a young twentysomething art museum worker who’s trying to find The One. Each episode covers one of her relationships; the first one chronicles her romance with a political journalist named Augie. 

Love Life doesn’t break new ground, at all. Darby’s crises are pretty typical and cliched (“why hasn’t he texted me yet?”). The side characters barely exist. But Kendrick is so charming in her yearning vulnerability that you can’t help but keep watching and rooting for her. Text her back, jerks! This week gives us the first three episodes of Love Life, with more to follow. If Love Life becomes one of the best new TV shows, HBO Max will be well on its way to becoming one of the best streaming services.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 7 premiere

Best new TV shows: Marvel's Agents of SHIELD

(Image credit: ABC)

Wednesday, May 27 at 10 p.m. on ABC 

It’s the endgame for the show that launched Marvel’s television arm. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has never been a huge hit and has always felt awkwardly connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (not to mention the now-defunct Netflix Marvel universe). 

That’s no longer a concern as the series comes to a close, especially since the agents have traveled back in time to 1931 New York City. The robot version of Coulson (Clark Gregg) revealed to a shocked Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) that they have to save HYDRA to save the world and the future. What a twist! 

Friends returns to streaming

Friends HBO Max

(Image credit: NBC)

Wednesday, May 27 at 3 a.m. on HBO Max (episodes 1 to 236)

Friends is far from new, but it does have a new streaming home on HBO Max. Everyone wailed and gnashed their teeth when Friends left Netflix at the top of 2020, and it’s been a long, hard few months since then. In these quarantine times, we missed the antics of the Central Perk crew and had to content ourselves with shouting “We were on a break!” and “Pivot!” at our significant others. Now, HBO Max is finally here to give us the Friends binges we all need. Could we BE any more excited?

More new shows to watch this week

Best new TV shows: Not Too Late Show With Elmo

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Labor of Love season 1 premiere (Thursday, May 21 at 9 p.m. on Fox)

The new dating show follows Kristy Katzmann, a smart and successful career woman who dates 15 men in the hope of finding one to marry and have a family with.

Control Z season 1 premiere (Friday, May 22 at 3 a.m. on Netflix)

If Elite, 13 Reasons Why and Riverdale had a baby, you’d get this Spanish teen drama, which swirls with tension and mystery after a hacker releases students’ secrets to the entire school.

Run season 1 finale (Sunday, May 24 at 10:30 p.m. on HBO)

It’s the end of the line for Ruby (Merritt Wever) and Billy (Domhnall Gleeson). They consider their future together as their madcap journey draws to a close.

World of Dance season 4 premiere (Tuesday, May 26 at 10 p.m. on NBC)

Jennifer Lopez, Derek Hough and Ne-Yo retake their seats at the judges table to find the best dance acts from all around the world.

The Not Too Late Show With Elmo (Wednesday, May 27 at 3 a.m. on HBO Max)

The lovable Muppet gets his very own talk show with celebrity guests like Lil Nas X, the Jonas Brothers and comedian John Mulaney.

Married at First Sight: Australia (Wednesday, May 27 at 9 p.m. on Lifetime)

Follow 12 couples from Down Under (including one same-sex duo) as they take the plunge in this crazy social experiment.

Kelly Woo
Streaming Editor

Kelly is the streaming channel editor for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.