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7 New Netflix Shows to Binge in April, and the Best Reasons to Watch

Netflix plays the imitation game in April, offering new series inspired by past successes, but there's at least one original "Special" in the lot.

Blue sharks have an incredible sense of smell than enables them to sniff out food in the open ocean desert.  They roam great distances across the high seas searching for ephemeral sources of food.  Off Cornwall, SW England

“Our Planet”

Oliver Scholey / Silverback/Netflix

1. “Our Planet” Season 1 (available now)

Why Should I Watch? In the second episode of “Our Planet,” Netflix’s eight-part nature docuseries riffing on the success of “Planet Earth,” there’s a stunning image of the planet’s largest walrus population. Drone shots capture a sea of brown fur resting on top of the actual sea itself, as sweeping crane movements illustrate the vast population of tusked mammals fighting for precious square inches of real estate. Their honks are as humorous as their adventurous climbs over other walruses — which can crush walruses on the bottom — and the surrounding rocks are terrifying. They look like aliens, and their habitat also feels like a land far removed from our own. But it’s not. This is our planet, and the Netflix special connects us to that seemingly basic concept with raw power. The ending of this brief segment offers some of the most horrific shots you’ll ever witness; perhaps too jarring for little kids, yet necessary to drive home the ambitious goal of “Our Planet”: to save it, and everything living here.

Bonus Reason: “From the creators of ‘Planet Earth'” is all you really need to know here, but viewers should know “Our Planet” plays like a pissed-off second sequel to the hit BBC America docuseries. Climate change and the damage it’s doing to our world was occasionally brought up in that series, but it’s a near-constant presence in this new one. Narrator Sir David Attenborough frames each entry around what’s being lost, how fast it’s disappearing, and what we can do to stop it — including a website dedicated to helping save the planet. So if you think you’re going to kick back and enjoy some lush visuals of the great outdoors, well, yeah, you can, but you’re going to get an extra dose of personal accountability along with it.

2. “Special” Season 1 (available April 12)

Special Season 1 Netflix

Ryan O’Connell in “Special”

Courtesy of Netflix

Why Should I Watch? Executive produced by Jim Parsons, “Special” brings Ryan O’Connell’s memoir to life on the small screen — with O’Connell playing himself. Ryan’s mild cerebral palsy has demotivated the young, gay man, keeping him working in his pajamas and only pursuing go-nowhere internships. But now, faced with a crossroads, Ryan chooses to change his ways and go after what he wants. The half-hour comedy is meant to be an inspiring, uplifting, and distinct original series, and keeping the person with a disability front and center certainly makes this story feel special already.

Bonus Reason: Maybe, just maybe, if millions of Netflix users love “Special,” they’ll find their way over to ABC’s excellent sitcom about a family and their one son with cerebral palsy, “Speechless.” No, not all shows about a guy with cerebral palsy are the same, but just seeing two shows out there trying to have meaningful, fun, and in-depth conversations about life with the disorder — which roughly 500,000 Americans live with each day — is exciting. Plus, it looks like these shows will be quite different from each other, further widening the perspectives of everyone who watches.

3. “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson” Season 1 (available April 23)

Detroiters Season 2 Sam Richardson Tim Robinson

Tim Robinson in “Detroiters”

Comedy Central

Why Should I Watch? We don’t know much about Tim Robinson’s upcoming Netflix original series, but in a way, we know all we need to: “In this new sketch show,” reads the official synopsis, “Tim Robinson and guests spend each segment driving someone to the point of needing — or desperately wanting — to leave.” A simple premise from a smart comedian is often all it takes, and Robinson continues to prove himself as a performer worth watching. Between his time writing on “SNL” to his excellent Comedy Central series “Detroiters,” whatever he’s got cooking next should be a sight to see.

Bonus Reason: I mean, who are the guests? It says “Tim Robinson and guests” — and Robinson knows a lot of great people (just look at the so-and-so beside him in the above photo). Bring on the episodes!

4. “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” Season 1, Part 2 (available now)

"Chilling Adventures of Sabrina"

“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”

Jeff Weddell/Netflix

Why Should I Watch? Netflix’s reimagining of the Archie Comic-turned-TGIF series is very much a reimagining. Similar to Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s adaptation of “Riverdale” (aka “hot Archie who fucks”), his spin on “Sabrina” is more modern in tone and mentality. Kiernan Shipka’s eponymous witch is progressive, feminist, and very, very active. She’s making the decisions — fighting demons and dating who she wants to date — while the rest of the world adjusts to her. Decidedly for today’s teens, “CAOS” also feels mature enough to guide them through their turbulent emotional state, while providing some silly fun along the way.

Bonus Reason: Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto’s Spellman sisters are scene-stealers to the extreme. “CAOS” hasn’t reached a status where a spinoff is warranted, but watching these two veterans dig into rich material is exciting enough to make you yearn for a few standalone episodes dedicated to their tricky relationship.

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