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7 New Netflix Shows in May 2020, and the Best Reasons to Watch

A Netflix parade of Emmy contenders floods the service in May, from Damien Chazelle's "The Eddy" to Steve Carell's "Space Force."

Steve Carell in "Space Force"

Steve Carell in “Space Force”

Aaron Epstein/Netflix

1. “Space Force” Season 1 (available May 29)

Why Should I Watch? After “The Office” announced its impending departure from Netflix, it was only a matter of time before the streamer came up with an original series to take its place. Enter “Space Force.” Co-created by “The Office” creator Greg Daniels and “The Office” star Steve Carell, this half-hour original series is even being billed as “a new kind of workplace comedy” by Netflix, returning Carell (who also stars) to workday drudgery, albeit with far more glamour than the paper game. As four-star general Mark R. Naird, Carell’s character is tasked with building a military base of operations on the moon in order to achieve “total space dominance,” as ordered by the White House.

Bonus Reason: Lisa Kudrow. The “Comeback” and “Friends” star had nothing to do with “The Office,” but a) who cares? — it’s worth putting on a party hat anytime Kudrow graces our screens — and b) she serves as an excellent reminder that “Space Force” is worth getting excited over even if you don’t know Dunder Mifflin from The Michael Scott Paper Company. Kudrow leads a killer ensemble of non-“Office” alums, including John Malkovich (hot off “The New Pope”), Noah Emmerich (your favorite FBI agent from “The Americans”), Ben Schwartz (who’s so much more than Jean Ralphio on “Parks and Recreation”), and more. Going into “Space Force” expecting “The Office” is a bad idea no matter what — since, despite what marketing might hype, this new show isn’t trying to recreate the former classic — so lean into the differences, and you’ll still find plenty of reasons to watch. And, again, Lisa Kudrow is reason enough by herself.

2. “The Eddy” (available May 8)

Damien Chazelle and André Holland "The Eddy" behind the scenes on set

Damien Chazelle and André Holland filming “The Eddy”

Lou Faulon

Why Should I Watch? Do you like jazz? No, wait. Scratch that. No one likes jazz. Do you like André Holland? What about Damien Chazelle? France? Yes, if you like any one of those things — just one (or you’re the one in 100 people who does, in fact, like jazz) — then “The Eddy” is for you. Starring the former “Castle Rock,” “The Knick,” and “Moonlight” actor Holland as Elliot, a famous jazz pianist who leaves his life in New York behind to open a jazz club in Paris, “The Eddy” depicts the blood, sweat, and tears that go into forming a family, and it does it with two families who slowly merge into one. The first is Eliot’s actual family, as his American daughter comes to live with him after bottoming out with her mother. The second is Eliot’s chosen family: a band he helped form with his friend and co-owner of the club, Farid (Tahar Rahim). When a few mistakes in management puts the club, the band, and Elliot’s life at risk, he scrambles to put it all back together while leaning on the relationships that have kept him going. See? You already forgot this whole thing is about jazz… until right now.

Bonus Reason: OK, OK — as the best friend of a dedicated jazz musician and former jazz club director, I’ve come to appreciate the genre, and Chazelle (whose passion for jazz predates “The Eddy” by at least three films) again helps make the music connect with those who might not seek it out otherwise. The gritty handheld camerawork evokes the vérité film movement, sure, but it also lets the camera float through the club, tying the band’s performance to the tension, camaraderie, and excitement playing out around them. Outside the club, the streets of Paris are shot in a way that puts you right there in the middle of the city, and so many more delicate moments are framed in spectacular settings by a team of directors including Chazelle, Alan Poul, Houda Benyamina, and Laïla Marrakchi. “The Eddy” is a straight-up beautiful piece, and who knows? Maybe by the end, you’ll find yourself humming a few of the original tunes, as well.

3. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend” (available May 12)


Tituss Burgess in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy v. The Reverend”

Courtesy of Netflix

Why Should I Watch? Whether you kept up with “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” during its four-run or not, the movie/series finale adds a bonus twist to court an audience: It’s interactive. The official synopsis sets the stakes better than I ever could, so here ya go:

Three states! Explosions! A dancing hamburger! And you, the viewer, get to decide how the story goes. Will you defeat the Reverend (Jon Hamm) and get Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) to her wedding on time? Or will you accidentally start a war against the robots?

Honestly, the robots kind of sound like the more interesting option, but Kimmy does seem destined to marry Daniel Radcliffe, so… damn. Tough choice again. I guess we’ll see how it turns out!

Bonus Reason: Making Jon Hamm the co-star of your comedy is never a bad idea. As if the original seasons of “Kimmy” weren’t evidence enough, just look at his stellar cameo/supporting turns on “Saturday Night Live,” “Good Omens,” “Angie Tribeca,” “Children’s Hospital,” “Toast of London,” “Wet Hot American Summer” (the series), “A Young Doctor’s Notebook” (with Daniel Radcliffe), and, most recently, an impeccable performance mirroring Larry David on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Those don’t even cover some of his more well-known comedic turns (aka “30 Rock” and “Bridesmaids”), so tuning in to see what Hamm does in his final time as The Reverend makes this special, no matter what else happens, totally worth it.

4. “Hollywood” Season 1 (now streaming)



Saeed Adyani / Netflix

Why Should I Watch? The stars! The glamour! The near-complete rewriting of Hollywood history! Ryan Murphy’s first original series under his overall deal with Netflix hasn’t been garnering the raves seen for some of his previous work, but anyone who’s got a soft spot for the creator, old-fashioned melodrama, or just very expensive period pieces should find plenty to appreciate in this quick crowdpleaser. (It’s only seven episodes and averages less than 50 minutes per entry!) Set in post-WWII Tinseltown, “Hollywood” tracks the rise of burgeoning actors, writers, and directors and the fall of the old studio system that oppressed many of them. Featuring another star-proving turn from David Corenswet and another ingratiating performance from the un-hailed MVP of Murphy’s regulars, Dylan McDermott, “Hollywood” puts the spotlight on progress, even if two of the best reasons to watch are straight, white men.

Bonus Reason: Did I mention Dylan McDermott? Well, sometimes it’s a pleasure to watch something fun and messy, if only to share in the experience with others. And “Hollywood” will absolutely be watched, so you’ll have plenty of people to talk it over with.

5. “Dead to Me” Season 2 (available May 8)

Dead to Me Season 2 Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate

Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate in “Dead to Me”

Courtesy of Netflix

Why Should I Watch? If you like “Grace and Frankie” but wish it had way more murder, than “Dead to Me” is for you. Starring the great Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, the comedy-thriller hybrid tracks a friendship forged under very unusual circumstances. Jen (Applegate) has been in mourning since her husband died in a still-unsolved hit-and-run when Judy (Cardellini) shows up at her grief group to provide a helping hand. Soon, the duo’s lives are entangled in secrets, and by the time Season 2 starts, the role of “Friend with the Worst Secret” has been reversed. Can any friendship survive so many lies, and can these two really stay out of jail after everything they’ve already gone through? Tune in to find out!

Bonus Reason: Performances are already the highlight of “Dead to Me,” with Applegate and Cardellini pivoting between titters and tragedy at the drop of a wine glass, and Season 2 introduces a welcome newcomer: Natalie Morales, formerly of NBC’s “Abby’s” and Netflix’s “Santa Clarita Diet,” joins the cast as the daughter of a tenant at Judy’s retirement home, and the two become fast friends over sob stories and smoking pot. If that’s not a bonus reason, I don’t know what it is.

6. “Somebody Feed Phil” Season 3 (available May 29)


Phil Rosenthal in “Somebody Feed Phil”


Why Should I Watch? Listen, I’m not in the market for another traveling food show — “The Trip to Greece” has me covered this month, thanks — but I’ll make room for “Somebody Feed Phil.” Producer and star Phil Rosenthal’s sheer enthusiasm for cuisine would be enough to bolster any reality series, and the kind, clever, adventurous creator of “Everybody Loves Raymond” has proven to be an endearing host for this Emmy-nominated Netflix series. His banter with chefs, servers, and patrons proves charming, and his meals are more than just an impressive spread — his appreciation of the flavors, creation, and overall experience become our own. So kick back, enjoy the fun, and maybe pick up a few home-cooking tips, too.

Bonus Reason: In Season 3, Phil travels to Marrakesh, Seoul, Montreal, Chicago, and London, and I can think of few people I’d rather live vicariously through while sheltering in place than this amiable personality. Plus, I just have to know where he went in Chicago. There are too many great Windy City restaurants to fit into a single hour, but here’s hoping he throws down on the Big Star vs. Antique Taco debate.

7. “Reckoning” Season 1 (now streaming)

Why Should I Watch? A-D-E-N Y-O-U-N-G! The “Rectify” star returns to television with “Reckoning,” a crime drama about a homicide detective (Young) who’s been chasing a serial killer for two decades. The latest victim introduces a local guidance counselor as a person of interest, played by “Homeland” and “True Blood” favorite Sam Trammell, and a series of escalating events sets the two men on a collision course. After four amazing seasons on the SundanceTV original series, the prospect of seeing Young as the obsessed cop instead of the pursued convict is enticement enough to check this one out, but a good old-fashioned murder-mystery circling around two talented leads should make plenty of genre fans happy.

Bonus Reason: If you like this one, or you just like seeing Aden Young’s name again, all four seasons of “Rectify” are still available to stream on Netflix. There’s no such thing as a bad reason to start that re-watch.

The Rest of Incoming TV

“Blood & Water” (now available)
“Mystic Pop-up Bar” (now available)
“Supergirl” Season 5 (coming soon)
“Almost Happy” (now available)
“Into the Night” (now available)
“Medici: The Magnificent” Part 2 (now available)
“Masha and the Bear” Season 4 (now available)
“Workin’ Moms” Season 4 (available May 6)
“Scissor Seven” Season 2 (available May 7)
“The Hollow” Season 2 (available May 7)
“Restaurants on the Edge” Season 2 (available May 7)
“Rust Valley Restorers” Season 2 (available May 7)
“Valeria” (available May 7)
“Charmed” Season 2 (available May 9)
“Grey’s Anatomy” Season 16 (available May 9)
“Bordertown” Season 3 (available May 11)
“Riverdale” Season 4 (available May 14)
“Chichipatos” (available May 15)
“Inhuman Resources” (available May 15)
“Magic for Humans” Season 3 (available May 15)
“She-Ra and the Princesses of Power” Season 5 (available May 15)
“White Lines” (available May 15)
“La Reina de Indias y el Conquistador” (available May 16)
“The Big Flower Fight” (available May 18)
“Sweet Magnolias” (available May 19)
“The Flash” Season 6 (available May 20)
“Control Z” (available May 22)
“History 101” (available May 22)
“Selling Sunset” Season 2 (available May 22)
“Trailer Park Boys: The Animated Series” Season 2 (available May 22)
“Dynasty” Season 3 (available May 23)

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