Like a lot of people, I canceled Netflix earlier this year (I came back, by the way). But right now? I'm thinking it's time folks cancel a different streaming service. And since canceling streaming services is all the rage right now, I've been analyzing the services that are the least necessary for a given month.
It's all because I've been having this same conversation well before we learned Netflix is losing subscribers. Right now, a whole lot of folks are trying to figure out which streaming services are necessary and where you can save money. Even Netflix is tightening its budget, as Netflix just canceled a new show from Meghan Markle — before it even aired a single episode.
It all adds up to a simple truth: while we can help compile the best streaming services, it's become all too much for most people to wrap their heads around. So that's why I'm looking at what some of the most popular services will be adding in May 2022.
This way, anyone who is thinking about canceling one or more services will know what they're missing out on. Think of this as my advice for how you can save money on your streaming bill. I'm not canceling all of these services, but that's because I have weird little reasons, which I'll explain below.
As I did last month, I'm breaking down the biggest newest additions to Netflix, HBO Max, Apple TV Plus, Hulu and Disney Plus. I won't get into the stuff they already have, as it's impossible to measure the services by their best stuff they already have.
Amazon Prime Video isn't covered here because most people have Prime Video through their Prime membership, not solely because they want to watch The Wilds season 2 and other originals. We may start covering Paramount Plus in the near future, but it hasn't really risen to the right rankings. We might think differently if Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is the first of a series of great new exclusives.
Should you cancel Apple TV Plus in May 2022?
Now that Severance is over, and Slow Horses and Pachinko dropped their finales (April 29), you may be looking to finally get rid of Apple TV Plus, and move it aside for now. While the streaming service has one clear big new series in May, some may be sticking around for its late-April release. That's Shining Girls, starring Elizabeth Moss, which debuted on April 29 and will have new episodes each Friday in May. This series looks so strong — an adaptation of Lauren Beukes' critically acclaimed book — that it's a good bellwether of if you'll stay or not.
The next big show after Shining Girls is The Essex Serpent (May 13), a period-piece starring Clare Danes as a widow investigating a sea creature (think Loch Ness monster) known as The Essex Serpent. And while that sounds like enough on its own to us, she's opposite Lok— I mean Tom Hiddleston, as the local pastor.
And, somehow, the two get along. Even though she's investigating a mythical figure you'd think a pastor would want to run her out of town for even giving credence to, they form a friendship. Unfortunately, the town (judging by the trailer) appears to turn on her. And her new friend may not be sticking up for her either. This looks like it could be another huge, buzzed-about show for Apple TV Plus, but your mileage (of course) may vary.
Want something a bit more salacious? Loved the film I Know What You Did Last Summer? What about a show where college reunion attendees are told "I know what you did 20 years ago? Now and Then (May 20) finds a group of friends haunted by a decision from their past, thanks to a blackmailer. They've also got another problem: a detective named Flora (Rosie Perez) still hasn't given up the case they're all tied to.
Now and Then doesn't exactly feel like a huge hit if you ask us, but it might be exactly what you want.
True crime fans with Apple TV Plus have a four-part docuseries to look forward to, as well. It's called The Big Conn, and it pulls back the lid on a story of how one man stole more than half a billion dollars from the U.S. government and tax payers.
And while that might sound stale or simple, Conn's big story wraps in cons on the public, local fame, lavish parties with adult film stars, big cars and even ... voodoo dolls. Oh, The Big Conn's bonafides are more than ensured, as it's directed by James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte (McMillion$).
Apple also has an intriguing docuseries called Prehistoric Plant (May 23), which sees the BBC Studios Natural History Unit and the team behind the live action Lion King and Jungle Book movies here to visualize dinosaur life in a much calmer way than Jurassic World: Dominion will. Elsewhere on Apple TV Plus, Tehran — the spy series about Mossad hacker/agent Tamar infiltrating Tehran — is back for season 2 (on May 6), and it's added Glenn Close.
My recommendation: This might be the month to save $4.99. Try out The Essex Serpent and Shining Girls before you cancel Apple TV Plus.
- If that sounds like a great month of programming, sign up for Apple TV
Should you cancel Disney Plus in May 2022?
The Moon Knight finale (May 4) kicks off Disney Plus' May 2022 offerings, and we're plenty excited to see how Steven and Marc's mind-bending great adventure winds up (check out our preview for how to watch Moon Knight episode 6 online). But your interest in Disney Plus' big May 2022 depends on a couple of factors.
First off, how badly do you need to see new Obi-Wan Kenobi series with the returning Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christiansen? The hotly-anticipated series that shows the Jedi master after his prize pupil leaves him for the dark side? You might be amped for the show because it sees a young Luke Skywalker, too. But if you can wait, say just a week? Well, the series debuts on May 27 with two episodes, giving some people reason to wait for June.
The Star Wars die-hards among us will not even think about canceling Disney Plus this month, and I get that. But if I didn't cover this stuff for a living? I bet the taste of The Book of Boba Fett would still be lingering enough in my mouth to consider waiting.
The other huge piece of the Disney Plus May 2022 puzzle is — and don't laugh — the new Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (May 20) movie. I'm as shocked as you are that I'm expressing any positivity or interest about this movie, but bear with me for a second here. It stars the voices of John Mulaney and Andy Samberg (respectively) as Chip and Dale, and both characters seem deeper than they were when we were kids. Chip's isolated himself since their show was canceled, and Dale, well, Dale got 3D-ified.
Elsewhere on Disney Plus, there's actually some new (and not spin-off) content! The Quest (May 11), a competition series that takes contestants to a D&D-like reality known as Everealm. Sneakerella (May 13) is exactly what it sounds like, pairing the fairy-tale of Cinderella with sneakerhead culture, complete with a Fairy Godfather.
Plus, two documentaries about MCU shows, with Marvel Studios: Assembled - The Making of Moon Knight (May 11) and Disney Gallery: The Book of Boba Fett (May 4).
My recommendation: Star Wars fans skipped this section, and the rest of us? Well, a wait-and-see approach may be the best thing. Chip and Dale will be there for you in June. Speaking of June, that feels like the earliest to expect Doctor Strange 2 on Disney Plus, which could arrive as late as July by our math.
- If you need to see Obi-Wan and Anakin, sign up for Disney Plus
Also, in "soon to be on Disney Plus" news, a Doctor Strange 2 reaction has huge ramifications about the MCU, as it just left our collective jaws on the floor.
Should you cancel HBO Max in May 2022?
It's no secret that HBO Max is our pick for the best streaming service. While its apps have only recently gotten fixed, it's always been the place to watch great programming. But if you judge HBO Max just by the shows debuting in May, you won't see the whole picture. Not when Barry season 3, Made For Love season 2 and The Flight Attendant season 2 are all dropping new episodes every week. That's enough quality TV for us to keep HBO Max alone, with a murder mystery, a techy dark comedy and a dark comedy about a hitman who wants to stop killing.
But what about the folks who want less death on their TV? Well, Jean Smart's Hacks is just right for them. Returning for a second season on May 12, this funny series about a veteran Vegas comedian (Smart) and her much-younger writer in training Ava (Hannah Einbinder) is the most anticipated show returning this month outside of the Upside Down.
The two will bicker and fight and things will be thrown, but somehow things will probably only get better between the two. That is, though, until the inevitable day when Ava actually takes what she's learned and makes it on her own. I loved season 1 so much that I couldn't stop watching Hacks, and finished it in less than a day.
Then, HBO Max goes true crime on us with The Staircase (May 5), as Colin Firth and Toni Collette play the roles of Michael and Kathleen Peterson. Those who know their story already know this is a dark tale that HBO Max is about to tell, and that includes all the stories that the Petersons' neighbors were telling behind their backs.
Beyond that, there's a two-part George Carlin documentary (air date TBA), the return of Michael Che and Sam Jay's comedy shows (May 26 and TBA, respectively), The Matrix: Resurrections finally comes back to HBO Max on May 10 and Navalny (May 26), a documentary about the 2020 assassination attempt of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader.
My recommendation: HBO Max is (again) one of the strongest services in May 2022, not just for the new shows arriving, but those continuing from April.
- If you're ready for more Jean Smart, Colin Firth and Toni Collette, sign up for HBO Max
Should you cancel Netflix in May 2022?
Right now, some (Netflix included) would tell you Netflix is on the ropes. I don't disagree with the downward-firing numbers, but I think Netflix will probably have a good month (my colleague Rory, who is not canceling Netflix, likely agrees). In part that's because of big returning shows, as we've compiled the 3 Netflix shows you need to binge-watch this month.
And that's mostly attributable to one of the most highly anticipated shows of the season: Stranger Things season 4 (May 27). A war is coming from The Upside Down, and so is horror legend Robert Englund, playing an eye-less old man named Victor Creel, whose old mansion is one of the new seasons centerpieces. Eleven's without her powers, Hopper's trying to learn how to fight demogorons inside of a Russian prison and Max is levitating.
But before that, Netflix is delivering some goods in other elements. One of the best hidden gems on Netflix is back with Love, Death & Robots: Volume 3 (May 20), and that same day delivers Jackass 4.5, the expanded edition of Jackass Forever (legitimately one of my favorite movies I saw in theaters this year).
But Netflix knows where it's bread is buttered, so reality dating show enthusiasts will be circling Wednesdays on their calendars as The Circle season 4 (starting May 4) delivers weekly editions of one of Netflix's most popular shows.
Netflix is also bringing Rebel Wilson back to our screens with Senior Year, a fun-looking comedy about a cheerleader who comes out of a coma 20 years after a freak accident. And if that wasn't bad enough? She now has to actually finish high school.
In somewhat questionable decision-making, Netflix green-lit The Pentaverate, a limited series where Mike Myers has at least 8 roles, because Netflix apparently built a time machine back to 2008 (remember The Love Guru?). At least a decent supporting cast (Ken Jeong, Keegan Michael Key and Bebe Neuwirth) are there to help with this series that somehow spins out of So I Married An Axe Murderer. After The Bubble burst and Don't Look Up made us want to look away? We're not so sure about Netflix's big comedic projects.
Asking my friends and colleagues about Netflix, they all keep telling me how they are excited for Our Father (May 10). Possibly the most highly-awaited (and most unnerving) true crime piece of the month (of which there are many), this movie explains the disturbing story of one fertility doctor who didn't tell patients he was using his own sperm to inseminate them.
The Lincoln Lawyer adapts Michael Connelly's best selling novels into a new Netflix series starting on May 13, while Bling Empire: Season 2 arrives on the same day for more drama, glamor and ... well, drama.
My recommendation: Everyone, it seems, from the Stranger Things fans to true crime lovers to reality TV show addicts to fans of Jackass, Rebel Wilson and Mike Myers, have reasons to keep Netflix.
In other Netflix news, two of its animated shows are among the three Netflix and The CW shows that just got canceled.
Should you cancel Hulu in May 2022?
Hulu is spending May 2022 continuing to primarily rest on The Kardashians, which drops new episodes each week. If that's your show, no judgement here, and I bet you're skipping over this section. That's the kind of social TV that you want to watch as it drops, and react in real time with your friends.
Then there are two other notable Hulu series. The first, which is being presented differently than most, is Candy (beginning May 9), a true crime miniseries that Hulu will debut across five consecutive evenings, culminating on Friday the 13. This harrowing tale of Candy Montgomery (Jessica Biel returning to action) shows how one 1980's housewife was unable to truly keep it together as she tried to be the picture-perfect definition of what society wants a wife to be.
The way this show is being released makes it sound like Hulu believes the show is a page-turner of an event that deserves special treatment.
The other big title on Hulu's May is Conversations with Friends (May 15), an adaptation of Sally Rooney's best-selling debut novel. This 12-episode series, which debuts all at once on Hulu, is likely a must-see for fans of Hulu's first Rooney adaptation Normal People.
Conversations with Friends stars newcomer Alison Oliver as Frances, a 21-year-old college student who is going through the dramas of relationships and friendships. But when Frances and her ex-girlfriend Bobbi (Sasha Lane of American Honey) meet two new, older, people: Melissa (Jemima Kirk of Girls) and Nick (Joe Alwyn of The Favourite), their new acquaintances shake up Frances' life.
Other announced Hulu originals for May include Dragons: The Nine Realms season 2 (May 5), which continues the How To Train Your Dragon world, and The Valet (May 20), a romcom starring Samara Weaving and Max Greenfield. Plus, Look At Me: XXXTentacion (May 26) a documentary about the late 20-year-old rapper.
Lastly, there's something for the Letterkenny crowd: Shoresy (May 27), a spinoff based on the titular character.
Hulu's had a bad string of months if you ask me, and while their May is better than their April, these shows and projects don't quite feel as strong as what HBO Max and even Netflix are offering. Again, if I wasn't on a $1 per month deal I got last Black Friday, I'd be dropping Hulu.
My recommendation: Hulu's May is for those who want to keep up with Letterkenny or the Kardashians and who need the latest dose of Sally Rooney adaptations.
- If that sounds like it's worth $7, sign up for Hulu
The two streaming services I'd cut this month
As I always say, this column comes with a huge "your mileage may vary" warning. Waiting for June for Netflix, Disney Plus or Hulu isn't a terrible thought, since some of their biggest titles drop at the end of May. That said, I'd recommend getting rid of at least Apple TV Plus (though the Apple One bundles keep me subscribed) and Hulu for now. True crime fans have their choice of new originals from Netflix, Hulu and HBO Max, and so I bet those services will all be safe for them.
The big takeaway is that HBO Max's bevy of currently-airing shows keeps that service in the driver's seat. Either way, I think folks can save north of $10 or so this month, as Hulu ($7 per month) and Apple TV Plus ($5 per month) don't feel as strong as HBO Max. I definitely anticipate some telling me they'll get rid of Disney Plus and Netflix for now, though.
Whatever you do, make sure you're actually using the services you're paying for.
In other streaming news, Roku is getting Apple Music after seven years of waiting. Oh, and fans are likely excited to watch Derry Girls season 3 episode 4 online to see the next twists for the girls and the next surprise cameos as well.