If you’re a subscriber to HBO GO or HBO NOW, you know what’s coming. Winter — I mean Game of Thrones season 6. The April 24 premiere finds Cersei humbled, Sansa on the run, Arya blinded, Dany captured and Jon Snow dead — or, as Billy Crystal might say, “mostly dead.” Which is a step up from every other GoT character you’ve loved and lost.
HBO is hoping, though, that your mind’s not too blown after the premiere to catch the two comedies also premiering April 24. The socially inept techies of Silicon Valley will be launching their third season, in which lead character Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) fights to regain control of his startup after being forced out as its CEO. Similarly struggling is Veep’s President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who will open the fifth season facing a tie electoral vote that puts her re-election prospects in the hands of byzantine government bureaucracy — exactly what the show’s so good at skewering.
Showtime feels like the little brother of the big premium cable networks, always playing second fiddle to HBO. But its partnership with Hulu is a step ahead of HBO’s similar team-up with Amazon Prime. HBO is only releasing its older shows on the streaming library, but Showtime is being featured as a premium add-on for Hulu, so you can watch any show or movie for less than the cost of a stand-alone subscription — $9 a month versus $11.
Showtime has a pretty extensive TV and film library that we won’t get into — other than to say their biggest hits Homeland, Dexter, Shameless and Weeds are all available. In the next few months, two of their more underrated shows will see season premieres.
First is House of Lies (that show you keep mixing up with House of Cards), on April 10. Instead of a scowling Kevin Spacey and a devious Robin Wright, you get a smarmy Don Cheadle and an ambitious Kristin Bell, working as management consultants trying to secure deals at any cost. Then there’s Penny Dreadful, premiering May 1. The Victorian-era horror drama, in the vein of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, features characters from literature’s most terrifying works — Frankenstein, Dracula, The Portrait of Dorian Grey — facing demons and monsters both physical and mental.
TV has so many antiheroes that an anti-antihero can be an alarmingly refreshing concept. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, arguably the buzziest show launched by Netflix last year, will return to the streaming service April 15 with the same bright, sunshiney energy that made its tale of a former “Mole Woman” escaping her bunker and thriving in New York City so compelling. This season is actually the first that creator Tina Fey has developed for Netflix (the show was originally meant for NBC), but she’s promised that the show and lead actor Ellie Kemper won’t be breaking out the profanity or nudity just because they can.
One strong independent funny woman not enough? All you have to do is hold on until May 20, when comedian Maria Bamford will explode onto your screens in Lady Dynamite. If this semi-fictionalized tale of “a woman who loses — then finds — her s**t” is as weird, unorthodox, in-your-face and wonderful as Bamford’s work in stand-up and on shows like Arrested Development, we’re in for a hell of a ride.
Hulu has some big TV coups this month, thanks to a landmark deal with Warner Bros. Television. The biggest get? Mid ‘00s teen drama classic The O.C., available on streaming for the first time since it went off the air in 2007 after only four seasons. Also arriving is fellow CW hit Smallville — perhaps the perfect salve to victims of Batman v Superman — as well as more recent shows like Blindspot and Lucifer.
There’s some nice original programming too, to sweeten the deal. Aaron Paul-vehicle The Path, about members of a religious cult in New Hampshire, has already premiered (to mixed reviews, admittedly, but those critics who liked it are fittingly fanatical). April also marks the return of The Mindy Project after a long winter hiatus. Mindy Kaling’s sitcom got increasingly realistic after making the jump from Fox to Hulu, and the midseason premiere will double down on that shift, with OB/GYN Mindy Lahiri and her son Leo on their own after she leaves her fiancé Danny Castellano.
If you haven’t joined Clone Club, sweet Jesus please join Clone Club. This year’s secular Easter miracle was the release of Orphan Black’s third season (FINALLY) on March 27. The new season of this edgy, grounded sci-fi series about women who discover they’re clones caught up in a global conspiracy shows up on BBC America April 14, so if cord-cutters can catch up before then, they’ll have a few days to enjoy knowing as much as their snooty cable-owning friends.
Prefer your bundles of joy not carbon copies created in a lab and studied as part of an ongoing experiment? Then you might like the second season of Catastrophe, the Rob Delaney/Sharon Hogan Anglophile romcom about a bi-continental couple whose one-night stand leads to an impromptu relationship. The comedy of Season 1 came from Rob and Sharon trying to date while pregnant; Season 2 jumps ahead in time to find Sharon pregnant again and the two as dysfunctional as ever.