Twelve Films and TV Shows You Need to Stream This Month
Satirical takes on history, thoughtful Aussie comedies, Jon Hamm as Fletch and Pete Davidson playing Pete Davidson: they're all on this month's must-stream list.
May 31, 2023
Not all that long ago, the idea of getting cosy on your couch, clicking a few buttons, and having thousands of films and television shows at your fingertips seemed like something out of science fiction. Now, it's just an ordinary night — whether you're virtually gathering the gang to text along, cuddling up to your significant other or shutting the world out for some much needed me-time.
Of course, given the wealth of options to choose from, there's nothing ordinary about making a date with your chosen streaming platform. The question isn't "should I watch something?" — it's "what on earth should I choose?".
Hundreds of titles are added to Australia's online viewing services each and every month, all vying for a spot on your must-see list. And, so you don't spend 45 minutes scrolling and then being too tired to actually commit to anything, we're here to help. We've spent plenty of couch time watching our way through this month's latest batch — and, from the latest and greatest through to old and recent favourites, here are our picks for your streaming queue from May's haul.
BRAND NEW STUFF YOU CAN WATCH IN FULL NOW
Television perfection is watching Elle Fanning (The Girl From Plainville) and Nicholas Hoult (Renfield) trying to run 18th-century Russia while scheming, fighting and heatedly reuniting in ahistorical period comedy The Great. Since 2020, they've each been in career-best form — her as the series' ambitious namesake, him as the emperor who loses his throne to his wife — while turning in two of the best performances on streaming in one of the medium's most hilarious shows. Both former child actors now enjoying excellent careers as adults, they make such a marvellous pair that it's easy to imagine this series being built around them. It wasn't and, now three seasons, The Great has never thrived on their casting alone. Still, shouting "huzzah!" at the duo's bickering, burning passion and bloodshed-sparking feuding flows as freely as all the vodka downed in the Emmy-winner's frames under Australian creator Tony McNamara's watch (and after he initially unleashed its winning havoc upon Sydney Theatre Company in 2008, then adapted it for television following a BAFTA and an Oscar nomination for co-penning The Favourite).
In this latest batch of instalments, all either written or co-written by McNamara, Catherine (Fanning) and Peter (Hoult) begin the third season sure about their love for each other, but just as flummoxed as ever about making their nuptials work. She's attempting to reform the nation, he's the primary caregiver to their infant son Paul, her efforts are meeting resistance, he's doting but also bored playing stay-out-of-politics dad, and couples counselling is called for. There's also the matter of the royal court's most prominent members, many of whom were rounded up and arrested under Catherine's orders at the end of season two. From Sweden, exiled King Hugo (Freddie Fox, House of the Dragon) and Queen Agnes (Grace Molony, Mary, Queen of Scots) are hanging around after being run out of their own country due to democracy's arrival. And, Peter's lookalike Pugachev (also Hoult) is agitating for a serf-powered revolution.
The Great streams via Stan. Read our full review.
When it initially arrived in 2022, becoming one of the year's best new shows and giving nature doco fans the five-episode series they didn't know they'd always wanted — and simultaneously couldn't believe hadn't been made until now — Prehistoric Planet followed the David Attenborough nature documentary formula perfectly. And it is a formula. In a genre that's frequently spying the wealth of patterns at the heart of the animal realm, docos such as The Living Planet, State of the Planet, Frozen Planet, Our Planet, Seven Worlds, One Planet, A Perfect Planet, Green Planet and the like all build from the same basic elements. Jumping back 66 million years, capitalising upon advancements in special effects but committing to making a program just like anything that peers at the earth today was never going to feel like the easy product of a template, though. Indeed, Prehistoric Planet's first season was stunning, and its second is just as staggering.
The catch, in both season one and this return trip backwards: while breathtaking landscape footage brings the planet's terrain to the Prehistoric Planet series, the critters stalking, swimming, flying and tumbling across it are purely pixels. Filmmaker Jon Favreau remains among the show's executive producers, and the technology that brought his photorealistic versions of The Jungle Book and The Lion King to cinemas couldn't be more pivotal. Seeing needs to be believing while watching, because the big-screen gloss of the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World sagas, the puppets of 90s sitcom Dinosaurs, and the animatronics of Walking with Dinosaurs — or anything in-between — were never going to suit a program with Attenborough as a guide. Accordingly, to sit down to Prehistoric Planet is to experience cognitive dissonance: viewers are well-aware that what they're spying isn't real because the animals seen no longer exist, but it truly looks that authentic.
Prehistoric Planet season streams via Apple TV+. Read our full review.
I THINK YOU SHOULD LEAVE WITH TIM ROBINSON
Eat-the-rich stories are delicious, and also everywhere; however, Succession, Triangle of Sadness and the like aren't the only on-screen sources of terrible but terribly entertaining people. I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson has been filling streaming queues with assholes since 2019, as usually played by the eponymous Detroiters star, and long may it continue. In season three, the show takes its premise literally in the most ridiculous and unexpected way, so much so that no one could ever dream of predicting what happens. That's still the sketch comedy's not-so-secret power. Each of its skits is about someone being the worst in some way, doubling down on being the worst and refusing to admit that they're the worst (or that they're wrong) — and while everyone around them might wish they'd leave, they're never going to, and nothing ever ends smoothly. In a show that's previously worked in hot dog costumes and reality TV series about bodies dropping out of coffins to hilarious effect, anything can genuinely happen to its gallery of the insufferable. In fact, the more absurd and chaotic I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson gets, the better.
No description can do I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson's sketches justice, and almost every one is a comedic marvel, as again delivered in six 15-minute episodes in the series' third run. The usual complaint applies: for a show about people overstaying their welcome, the program itself flies by too quickly, always leaving viewers wanting more. Everything from dog doors and designated drivers to HR training and street parking is in Robinson's sights this time, and people who won't stop talking about their kids, wedding photos and group-think party behaviour as well. Game shows get parodied again and again, an I Think You Should Leave staple, and gloriously. More often than in past seasons, Robinson lets his guest stars play the asshole, too, including the returning Will Forte (Weird: The Al Yankovic Story), regular Sam Richardson (The Afterparty), and perennial pop-ups Fred Armisen (Barry) and Tim Meadows (Poker Face). And when Jason Schwartzman (I Love That for You) and Ayo Edebiri (The Bear) drop in, they're also on the pitch-perfect wavelength.
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson streams via Netflix. Read our full review.
Not to be confused with the just-released Australian film Limbo, new six-part Aussie dramedy In Limbo not only takes its title to heart, but also uses the idea as fuel for a supernatural buddy comedy. Indeed, before the first episode is out, Nate (Bob Morley, Love Me) is palling around with his lifelong best friend Charlie (Ryan Corr, House of the Dragon) from the afterlife. The former doesn't know why he's still a presence. The latter is understandably reeling from the tragedy, and initially thinks that spying Nate is just a drunken hallucination. No one else, not Nate's wife Freya (Emma Harvie, Colin From Accounts), eight-year-old daughter Annabel (Kamillia Rihani, The Twelve), supremely very Catholic mother Maria (Lena Cruz, Wellmania) and affable father Frank (Russell Dykstra, Irreverent), can see their dearly-departed loved one as a ghost. It's Christmas, too, in this Brisbane-shot and -set series, and facing the festivities after such a shock is far from easy. While heartily deploying Brisbane Powerhouse and New Farm Park as settings, that's a lot for one show to delve into — and delve it thoughtfully does.
Tackling grief, mental health and suicide is never simple, even in a show about someone haunting their best mate, and including when such topics have been increasingly popping up in Australian fare of late (see also: Totally Completely Fine). In Limbo is clearly made with care, empathy and understanding — and, crucially, doesn't attempt to offer any firm answers, instead acting as a conversation starter. At its core, the always-excellent Corr plays a complicated role with charm. That's no surprise given his resume, and he couldn't be better cast. Corr's likeable performance always dives deep into the about-to-get-divorced Charlie's struggle without Nate physically by his side, with Nate now his ghostly offsider and with his own problems, and never brushes past the character's flaws. And, just as importantly as the show's focus on 21st-century masculinity and friendship, Corr makes such a great double act with Morley that filmmakers should be clamouring to pair them up again ASAP.
In Limbo streams via ABC iView.
Since Mad Men had Don Draper want to buy the world a Coke to end its seven-season run back in 2015, comedy has been Jon Hamm's friend. He's the ultimate TV guest star, building upon stints in 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation while Mad Men was still airing with Toast of London, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Curb Your Enthusiasm, on a resume that also includes The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, Childrens Hospital, Medical Police, Angie Tribeca, The Last Man on Earth and Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp as well. So, casting him as the new Irwin Maurice 'Fletch' Fletcher couldn't be an easier move. Having fellow Mad Men standout John Slattery (The Good Fight) also appear in the latest flick about the investigative reporter, and the first since the Chevy Chase-led movies in the 80s, is another winning touch. Even if that reunion wasn't part of the film, Hamm is so entertaining that he makes a killer case for a whole new Fletch franchise — on whatever screen the powers-that-be like — with him at its centre.
Hamm clearly understands how well he suits this type of character, and the genre; he's a comic delight, and he's also one of Confess, Fletch's producers. Superbad and Adventureland's Greg Mottola directs and co-writes, scripting with Outer Range's Zev Borow — and ensuring that Hamm and Slattery aren't the only acting highlights. Working through a plot that sees Fletch chasing a stolen artwork, discovering a dead body, and both looking into the crime and considered a suspect himself, the film also features engaging turns by always-welcome Twin Peaks great Kyle MacLachlan and Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar gem Annie Mumolo. There have been several attempts to revive Fletch over the past three decades, including separate projects with Ted Lasso duo Bill Lawrence and Jason Sudeikis — on the page, the character spans nine novels — but viewers should be thankful that this is the action-comedy that came to fruition, even if it skipped cinemas everywhere but the US.
Confess, Fletch streams via Paramount+ and Binge.
In its opening moments, Bupkis unloads — twice, in completely different ways, while ensuring there's zero doubt that this is a series about Pete Davidson starring Pete Davidson as Pete Davidson. First, the former Saturday Night Live comedian gets Googling while alone in the basement of the Staten Island home he shares with his mother Amy (Edie Falco, Avatar: The Way of Water). The results about Ariana Grande, Kate Beckinsale and Kim Kardashian's ex aren't positive; so, to shake off the unpleasantness of reading '12 Things Horribly Wrong with Pete Davidson', he switches from "scumbro" with "butthole eyes" comments to porn. He's wearing a VR headset, and he's soon deep in self-love. Then his mum walks in. Bupkis clearly isn't wary about getting crude. It isn't concerned about satirising its central figure, either. Instead, this semi-autobiographical dramedy relishes the parody. At the age of 29, Davidson has reached the "you may as well laugh" point in his career, which is hardly surprising given he's spent the past decade swinging his big chaotic energy around.
Partway through the eight-episode series, while keen to claim some perks for being Davidson's mother — other than doting on her son, that is — Amy shouts at wait staff that "Marisa Tomei played me!". Add that to Bupkis' gleeful, playful nods to reality. An opening statement before each instalment stresses the difference between fact and fiction, and why the show has the moniker it has, but art keeps imitating life everywhere. There's no switching names, however. Davidson is indeed Davidson, his IRL mum is called Amy and his sister is Casey (Oona Roche, The Morning Show). As in The King of Staten Island, they've been a trio since 9/11, and dealing with losing his New York City firefighter dad still isn't easy. Off-screen, however, Davidson must be a fan of My Cousin Vinny, plus the gangster genre. Hailing from the former as Tomei does, and famed for his performances in the latter like The Sopranos star Falco, Goodfellas, Casino and The Irishman alum Joe Pesci is a pivotal part of Bupkis as Davidson's grandfather Joe — a hilarious and delightful part, unsurprisingly.
Bupkis streams via Binge. Read our full review.
When Vengeance begins with a New Yorker journalist who's desperate to start his own podcast, Soho House hangouts and relationship advice from John Mayer as himself, it begins with rich and savvy character details. Writing, starring and making his feature directorial debut after helming episodes of The Office and The Mindy Project, BJ Novak instantly establishes the kind of person that Ben Manalowitz is. He shows the East Coast world that his protagonist inhabits, too — and, by focusing on the only guy in NYC without their own audio outlet, or so it seems, plus that romantic guidance, it splashes around its sense of humour. This is a sharply amusing mystery-comedy, and a highlight on Novak's resume in all three of his guises. It's also about subverting expectations, and lampooning the first impressions and broad stereotypes that are too often — and too easily — clung to. Indeed, Vengeance bakes in that idea as many ways as it can as Ben (Novak) does the most obvious thing he can to convince his producer (Issa Rae, Insecure) that his voice is worth hearing: bursts his Big Apple bubble.
The Mayer bit isn't just a gag; it helps set up Ben as the kind of person who is dating so many women that he doesn't know which one has died after he gets a bereaved phone call from Texas in the middle of the night. On the other end is Ty Shaw (Boyd Holbrook, The Sandman), brother to Abilene (Lio Tipton, Why Women Kill), who insists that Ben head southwest immediately to attend her funeral — she claimed that they were serious enough that she's his girlfriend, after all. Upon arrival, the out-of-towner initially regards his hosts as jokes, and their lives and Abilene's death as content. Ty thinks she was murdered, and Ben couldn't be giddier about getting it all on tape and calling the series Dead White Girl. The journo's self-interest is up there with his obliviousness about anything that doesn't fit into his NYC orbit; however, this isn't a culture-clash comedy — thankfully — but a clever, self-aware and ambitious satire. It's also strikingly shot and features a standout performance by Ashton Kutcher (That '90s Show) as a suave record producer.
Vengeance streams via Netflix and Binge.
NEW AND RETURNING SHOWS TO CHECK OUT WEEK BY WEEK
Rebecca Ferguson will never be mistaken for Daveed Diggs, but the Dune, Mission: Impossible franchise and Doctor Sleep star now follows in the Hamilton Tony-winner's footsteps. While he has spent multiple seasons navigating dystopian class clashes on a globe-circling train in the TV version of Snowpiercer, battling his way up and down the titular locomotive, she just started ascending and descending the stairs in the underground chamber that gives Silo its moniker. Ferguson's character is also among humanity's last remnants. Attempting to endure in post-apocalyptic times, she hails from her abode's lowliest depths as well. And, when there's a murder in this instantly engrossing new ten-part series — which leaps to the screen from Hugh Howey's novels, and shares a few basic parts with Metropolis, Blade Runner and The Platform, as well as corrupt world orders at the core of The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner flicks — she's soon playing detective.
Silo captivates from the outset, when its focus is the structure's sheriff Holston (David Oyelowo, See How They Run) and his wife Allison (Rashida Jones, On the Rocks). Both know the cardinal rule of the buried tower, as does deputy Marnes (Will Patton, Outer Range), mayor Ruth (Geraldine James, Benediction), security head Sims (Common, The Hate U Give), IT top brass Bernard (Tim Robbins, Dark Waters) and the other 10,000 souls they live with: if you make the request to go outside, it's irrevocable and you'll be sent there as punishment. No matter who you are, and from which level, anyone posing such a plea becomes a public spectacle. Their ask is framed as "cleaning", referring to wiping down the camera that beams the desolate planet around them onto window-sized screens in their cafeterias. No one has ever come back, or survived for more than minutes. Why? Add that to the questions piling up not just for Silo's viewers, but for the silo's residents. For more than 140 years, the latter have dwelled across their 144 floors in safety from the bleak wasteland that earth has become — but what caused that destruction and who built their cavernous home are among the other queries.
Silo streams via Apple TV+. Read our full review.
THE OTHER TWO
Swapping Saturday Night Live for an entertainment-parodying sitcom worked swimmingly for Tina Fey. Since 2019, it's also been going hilariously for Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider. Not just former SNL writers but the veteran sketch comedy's ex-head writers, Kelly and Schneider have been giving the world their own 30 Rock with the sharp, smart and sidesplitting The Other Two. Their angle: focusing on the adult siblings of a Justin Bieber-style teen popstar who've always had their own showbiz aspirations — he's an actor, she was a ballerina — who then find themselves the overlooked children of a momager-turned-daytime television host as well. Cary (Drew Tarver, History of the World: Part II) and Brooke (Heléne York, Katy Keene) Dubek are happy for Chase (Case Walker, Monster High: The Movie). And when their mother Pat (Molly Shannon, I Love That for You) gets her own time in the spotlight, becoming Oprah-level famous, they're equally thrilled for her. But ChaseDreams, their little brother's stage name, has always been a constant reminder that their own ambitions keep being outshone.
In a first season that proved one of the best new shows of 2019, a second season in 2021 that was just as much of a delight and now a stellar third go-around, Cary and Brooke have never been above getting petty and messy about being the titular pair. In season three, however, they aren't just hanging around with stars in their eyes and resentment in their hearts. How do they cope? They've spent the past few years constantly comparing themselves to Chase, then to Pat, but now they're successful on their own — and still chaotic, and completely unable to change their engrained thinking. Forget the whole "the grass is always greener" adage. No matter if they're faking it or making it, nothing is ever perfectly verdant for this pair or anyone in their orbit. Still, as Brooke wonders whether her dream manager gig is trivial after living through a pandemic, she starts contemplating if she should be doing more meaningful work like her fashion designer-turned-nurse boyfriend Lance (Josh Segarra, The Big Door Prize). And with Cary's big breaks never quite panning out as planned, he gets envious of his fellow-actor BFF Curtis (Brandon Scott Jones, Ghosts).
The Other Two streams via Binge. Read our full review.
Sometime in the near future, Rose Byrne, Seth Rogen and filmmaker Nicholas Stoller could easily join forces on a new rom-com. In fact, they should. Until then, buddy comedy Platonic makes a hilarious, engagingly written and directed, and perfectly cast addition to each's respective resumes. Reuniting the trio after 2014's Bad Neighbours and its 2016 sequel Bad Neighbours 2, this new series pairs Australia's comedy queen and America's go-to stoner as longterm pals who are never anything but mates — and haven't been in touch at all for years — but navigate a friendship that's as chaotic and complicated as any movie romance. That's an easy setup; however, watching the show's stars bicker, banter and face the fact that life doesn't always turn out as planned together proves as charming as it was always going to. Also, Platonic smartly doesn't try to be a romantic comedy, or to follow in When Harry Met Sally's footsteps.
Instead, Platonic explores what happens when two former besties have gone their own ways, then come back together. The show knows that reconnecting with old pals is always tinged with nostalgia for the person you were when they were initially in your life. And, it's well-aware that reckoning with where you've ended up since is an immediate side effect. Enter Sylvia (Byrne, Seriously Red), who reaches out to Will (Rogen, The Super Mario Bros Movie) after hearing that he's no longer with the wife (Alisha Wainwright, Raising Dion) she didn't like. She's also a suburban-dwelling former lawyer who put work on hold to become a mother of three, and can't help feeling envious of her husband Charlie's (Luke Macfarlane, Bros) flourishing legal career. Her old BFF co-owns and runs an LA brewpub, is obsessive about his beer and hipster/slacker image, and hasn't been taking his breakup well. They couldn't be in more different places in their lives. When they meet up again, they couldn't appear more dissimilar, too. "You look like you live at Ann Taylor Loft," is Will's assessment. Sylvia calls him "a '90s grunge clown." Neither is wrong.
Platonic streams via Apple TV+. Read our full review.
They're called The Kindred, not The Family. Adrienne Beaufort is their leader, not Anne Hamilton-Byrne. But there's no mistaking the inspiration for JP Pomare's book In the Clearing and its new eight-part adaptation The Clearing. Exploring the inner workings of an Australian cult based in rural Victoria, spouting New Age sentiments mixed with doomsday thinking, fixated upon blonde-haired children and led by a charismatic woman — a rare female cult leader — this tale fictionalises the real-life details documented in countless newspaper headlines since the 80s, and also in Rosie Jones' 2016 documentary The Family and 2019 series The Cult of the Family. Amid their so-wild-they-can-only-be-true stories, both of those projects showed viewers the eerie image of children with platinum locks in severe bobs and dressed in matching blue attire. That distinctive look is similarly at the heart of Disney+'s first original scripted Aussie drama.
In the earlier of its two timelines, Amy (Julia Savage, Blaze) dons the tresses and uniform as one of the older children at Adrienne's (Miranda Otto, Wellmania) Blackmarsh bush compound — one being prepared to be her heir, and made an accomplice in the group's quest to add more kids to its ranks. Initially dutiful, the teenager is soon questioning the only existence she's ever known, with its harsh rules, strict aunties keeping everyone in line between Adrienne's sporadic visits, weekend services attended by well-to-do acolytes and, sharing the show's title, its LSD-fuelled confessional sessions. When The Clearing dwells in the now, still in Victoria at its leafiest, the smear of heartbreak and damage is ever-present. Indeed, when single mother Freya Heywood (Teresa Palmer, Ride Like a Girl) hears about a girl being abducted, she can't shake the feeling that history is repeating. She dotes over her primary school-aged son Billy (debutant Flynn Wandin), but she's also visibly nervous and anxious. When she keeps spotting a white van, she's a portrait of panic.
The Clearing streams via Disney+. Read our full review.
In High Desert, the always-excellent Patricia Arquette (Severance) leads a private investigator comedy that dapples its jam-packed chaos under California's golden sun, against the parched Yucca Valley landscape and with an anything-goes philosophy — not to mention a more-mayhem-the-merrier tone. She plays Peggy Newman, who isn't letting her age get in the way of perennially struggling to pull her life together. That said, when the eight-part series begins, it's Thanksgiving 2013 and she's living an upscale existence in Palm Springs, with gleaming surfaces abounding in her expansive (and visibly expensive) home. Then, as her husband Denny (Matt Dillon, Proxima) jokes around with her mother Roslyn (Bernadette Peters, Mozart in the Jungle), and her younger siblings Dianne (Christine Taylor, Search Party) and Stewart (Keir O'Donnell, The Dry) lap up the lavish festivities, DEA agents swarm outside. Cue weed, hash and cash stashes being flushed and trashed, but not quickly enough to avoid splashing around serious repercussions.
A decade later, High Desert's protagonist has been sharing Roslyn's house and trying to kick her addictions while working at Pioneertown, a historical attraction that gives tourists a dusty, gun-toting taste of frontier life. Peggy would love to step back in time herself when she's not pretending to be a saloon barmaid — to when her recently deceased mother was still alive, however, rather than to her glitzy post-arrest shindigs. Still angry about being caught up in a drug bust, Dianne and Stewart have zero time for her nostalgia and a lack of patience left for her troubles. Their plan: to sell Roslyn's abode with no worries about where Peggy might end up. Her counter: doing everything she can to stop that from happening. High Desert doesn't just embrace the fact that living and breathing is merely weathering whatever weird, wild and sometimes-wonderful shambles fate throws your way; in a show created and written by Nurse Jackie and Damages alumni Jennifer Hoppe and Nancy Fichman, plus Miss Congeniality and Desperate Housewives' Katie Ford, that idea dictates the busy plot, too.
High Desert streams via Apple TV+. Read our full review.
Need a few more streaming recommendations? Check out our picks from January, February, March and April this year.
You can also check out our list of standout must-stream 2022 shows as well — and our best 15 new shows of last year, top 15 returning shows over the same period, 15 shows you might've missed and best 15 straight-to-streaming movies of 2022.
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