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For TV fans, April can mean only one thing: Game of Thrones is back, accompanied by all the death, dragons, and mayhem it promises.
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But look past HBO"s fantasy series (returning Sunday, April 24), and you"ll find a panoply of great options coming to all four major streaming services over the course of the month. Netflix launches the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, while Amazon adds the second season of Catastrophe. Both were among the funniest shows of 2015.
Then you have Hulu adding The O.C. and the usual assortment of TV shows, movies, and other odds and ends. It"s a good month for streamers.
Here are five picks for each of the four top streaming services.
New in April on Netflix
Bob"s Burgers, season five (available April 1)
How many other animated sitcoms would mash up the plots of Working Girl and Die Hard for a school musical? Only this one. The truest heir to the throne of classic Simpsons seems to hit streaming on a vastly delayed schedule — season six is almost done airing on Fox — but it"s always worth checking out the latest batch of episodes when it lands.
The Princess Bride (available April 1)
Cary Elwes and Robin Wright are the fairy tale lovers in this affectionate homage to and send-up of the stories your parents told you as a child. Also, it"s got Mandy Patinkin, André the Giant, Peter Falk, and a ton of quotable dialogue. If you weren"t forced to watch this one dozens of times as a child, you obviously weren"t in my church youth group.
The Ranch, season one, part one (available April 1)
Netflix is making the first half — 10 episodes — of its new comedy available this month. The second batch of 10 episodes doesn"t have a release date yet, but the first 10 are worth checking out. (I"ve seen all of them.) Set on a struggling ranch out in cattle country, this live-studio-audience-enabled sitcom offers, among other things, adult language, Ashton Kutcher nudity, and a bunch of other stuff you wouldn"t expect to find in a show like this.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, season two (available April 15)
Tina Fey and Robert Carlock"s surprisingly whimsical tale of a woman who escaped being held by a madman in an underground bunker and vowed to remake her life in New York returns for a second season of brightly colored shenanigans. (Females, as the theme song might remind you, are strong as hell.) Starring Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, and many, many others, this is perhaps Netflix"s funniest show.
Begin Again (available April 27)
Despite featuring Voice judge and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine in a semi-prominent role, this lovely little indie musical proved to be a bittersweet treat when it arrived in the summer of 2014. It"s the second film from John Carney, who also directed the delectable Once, and while it"s not as good as that movie, it"s still wistful and enjoyable. And Keira Knightley sings!
New in April on Hulu
Carlos (available April 1)
The great French director Olivier Assayas took a pause from making intimate dramas like 2008"s Summer Hours and 2015"s Clouds of Sils Maria to make this sprawling miniseries about a Marxist Venezuelan terrorist who rose to prominence in the "70s. Starring Édgar Ramirez, it"s an engrossing watch about the divide between desiring political change and doing potentially horrible things to make it happen.
My Best Friend"s Wedding (available April 1)
Or you could skew toward something completely different, with this classic Julia Roberts romantic comedy, in which her best friend is marrying the girl of his dreams (the young Cameron Diaz) — and our heroine will do anything she can to stop it. Features people singing Dionne Warwick songs around a restaurant table, as all good movies should.
11.22.63 (available in full April 4)
Have you been waiting for the entirety of this miniseries based on the Stephen King book of the same name to become available? Well, the eighth and final episode arrives on Monday, April 4, and you can binge to your heart"s content. Our own Caroline Framke can tell you what to expect.
My Mad Fat Diary (available April 9)
It"s taken forever (okay, since 2013), but this terrific British teen dramedy is finally coming to the United States. Centered on a teenage girl who identifies as "fat" (see the title) and has been in a psychiatric hospital for body image issues, it"s more entertaining than that mere description would make it sound, I swear. Sharon Rooney is instantly charming as protagonist Rae, and the rest of the ensemble cast is great, too.
The O.C. (available April 1)
Or you could go with the complete opposite end of the teenage spectrum, thanks to this classic soap set among the rich and beautiful of Newport Beach, California. Travel back to a time when soaps full of self-referential jokes and geeky humor were all the rage, a time when Mischa Barton briefly seemed like she might be a star. Ah, memories.
New in April on Amazon Prime
Crimes and Misdemeanors (available April 1)
Amazon Prime is adding a number of Woody Allen films for April, and perhaps the best is this 1989 film about two men who either cheat on their wives or think about doing so. (Would you believe it"s the character played by Allen who"s only thinking about it when the film begins?) It"s a consideration of morality and religion, and it might also be Allen"s own fictional confession for the terrible things he"s alleged to have done.
The Naked Gun 2 & 1/2: The Smell of Fear (available April 1)
Fans of The People v. O.J. Simpson should look no further for an easy way to be reminded of just how beloved O.J. was before the murder trial that permanently changed how people looked at him. This is also probably the funniest of the Naked Gun movies, so there"s that too.
Catastrophe, season two (available April 8)
Catastrophe, Amazon"s British romantic comedy import, was one of the biggest surprises of 2015, a raunchy, funny look at love, marriage, and childbirth, from the Irish Sharon Horgan and American Rob Delaney, who both created and star. The two meet while he"s on a business trip to the UK, only to find their brief fling has led to a pregnancy, one that draws them even closer together. Season two promises even more amusement.
Mad Max (available April 12)
Fans of the full-on apocalyptic fantasia that was Mad Max: Fury Road might be mildly surprised by the original Mad Max, which is mostly a cop drama, with a few hints here and there that society is crumbling around the edges. (Gangs have taken over the highways, for one thing.) It"s still well worth seeing as an example of director George Miller"s impressive talent in its nascent form.
Veep, season two (available April 21)
Amazon Prime continues its slow release of HBO seasons several years after they initially aired. For everybody who didn"t watch this season of Veep (its first truly good season, for my money), well, you can get caught up now! And then maybe check out the third and fourth seasons, which are even better.
New in April on HBO Now
Mean Streets (available April 1)
Martin Scorsese"s third film was his breakthrough, and his first film with Robert DeNiro, the actor who would come to define many of his finest films (including Taxi Driver and Raging Bull). This one"s a little looser than those, but it"s still the sort of mob-centric crime film that Scorsese makes seem so easy, where so many other directors flail about.
Trainwreck (available April 2)
Amy Schumer"s first ever major starring role in a film turned out to be this free-wheeling, funny romantic comedy about a commitment-phobic woman who meets her match in a man played by Bill Hader. You might quibble with the film"s conventional ending, but there will be one thing you cannot deny: LeBron James (who has a surprisingly large part) is a comedic master.
Inherent Vice (available April 11)
This drug-fueled mystery, based on a Thomas Pynchon novel, is Paul Thomas Anderson"s latest trip into the American past, as filtered through his modern sensibilities. Here, Joaquin Phoenix plays a private eye searching for a missing girl in a hazy, half-remembered 1970s Los Angeles. This movie"s not for everybody, but it"s worth it just for Josh Brolin"s terrific portrayal of a straight-edge cop.
Game of Thrones, season six; Silicon Valley, season three; Veep, season five (return April 24)
These three shows are the reason many Americans continue to subscribe to HBO, and the network putting all of them on the same night every April is a much-welcomed gift. Game of Thrones confronts its first season without a book to adapt, while Silicon Valley hopes to build on its season two momentum. And Veep? That just has to deal with the departure of its creator, Armando Iannucci, as showrunner. No big deal.
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Heart of a Dog (available April 25)
Artist and director Laurie Anderson lost her beloved dog Lolabelle, and she was inspired to make this film, her first full-length documentary in decades. It"s a moving examination of life and death, love and loss, filtered all through the immediately understandable idea of losing a much-loved pet. It"s both deeply emotional and philosophical, the sort of thing Anderson can pull off beautifully.