Skip to Content

From 'Ripley' to 'The Jinx: Part 2,' here's what's worth streaming in April 2024

By Mike Murphy

Hulu and Netflix are still the best of the bunch in a surprisingly slow month for streaming services

What happened to Emmy season?

In recent years, spring has brought a glut of prestige dramas, comedies and miniseries, all vying to benefit from recency bias ahead of the May 31 deadline for Emmy eligibility. The lineup this April, though, is sparse, and can perhaps be blamed on production delays due to last year's Hollywood strikes.

Netflix's "Ripley" looks to be the most prestige-ey this month, along with Hulu's "The Veil" and "Shogun," Apple's "Franklin" and Max's "The Jinx: Part 2" - a far cry from this time last year, when we had a deluge that included "Succession," "Barry," "The Mandalorian," "Ted Lasso," "Beef," "Dead Ringers" and "Mrs. Davis."

But while fewer top-tier shows may be a bummer from a viewer perspective, it's good news on the consumer side, since you can safely cancel a service or two and not have to worry about missing out.

That's especially helpful considering streaming price have soared of late. This is where a strategy of churning - that is, adding and dropping services month to month - comes in. It takes some planning, but pays off in monthly savings. Keep in mind that a billing cycle starts when you sign up, not necessarily at the beginning of the month.

Also read: Amid 'streamflation,' consumers are spending more on TV streaming than ever

Each month, this column offers tips on how to maximize your streaming and your budget - rating the major services as "play," "pause" or "stop," similar to investment analysts' traditional ratings of buy, hold or sell - and picks the best shows to help you make your monthly decisions.

Here's a look at what's coming to the various streaming services in April 2024, and what's really worth the monthly subscription fee:

Hulu ($7.99 a month with ads, or $17.99 with no ads)

While most of its streaming rivals sleepwalk through April, Hulu actually has a fairly full lineup.

Elisabeth Moss stars in FX's six-episode spy thriller "The Veil" (April 30), as an MI6 agent with a secret who's caught in a deadly game of deception with a mysterious woman (Yumna Marwan) harboring secrets of her own as they must travel from from Istanbul to Paris in time to avert a disaster. Written by Steven Knight ("Peaky Blinders"), it looks as stylish, atmospheric and violent as would be expected.

There's also the premiere of Part 2 of "American Horror Story: Delicate" (April 4), starring Cara Delevingne, Emma Roberts and Kim Kardashian; "Under the Bridge" (April 17), a crime drama starring Vritika Gupta, Riley Keough and Lily Gladstone, about a murder investigation involving a group of teenage girls; the four-part musical docuseries "Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story" (April 26); the series premiere of "Vanderpump Villa" (April 1), following the lives of event staff at Lisa Vanderpump's French estate; and the cannabis-dispensary reality show "High Hopes" (April 20, of course).

Hulu also has new episodes every week until the finale of the spectacular miniseries "Shogun" (April 23), as well as ABC and Fox shows streaming a day after they air.

FYI, the third season of the terrific soccer docuseries "Welcome to Wrexham" had been scheduled to premiere April 19, but it's been pushed back to a May 2 start date.

Dig deeper: If you're looking for more, try a couple of very different under-the-radar series. The hyper-violent South Korean drama "A Shop for Killers" dropped in January, about a young, orphaned girl (Kim Hye-jun) raised by her uncle (Lee Dong-wook), who discovers after his sudden death that he runs a shopping mall for assassins on the dark web - and she's now their target. It's brutal yet sentimental, and tries to be a bit more twisty than necessary, but it's also highly entertaining, with fantastic fight choreography.

On the much nicer side is the British comedy "Extraordinary," which recently dropped its second season. Máiréad Tyers stars as Jen, a 25-year-old hot mess who's searching for purpose in life as she's stuck without a superpower in a world where everyone gets a power (albeit sometimes ridiculous ones, like the ability to instantly induce orgasms) on their 18th birthday. The show nails that very British way of balancing raunchy comedy with heartfelt emotion, and it's a lot of fun. It gets bonus points for having a killer soundtrack and co-starring Siobhán McSweeney (Sister Michael from "Derry Girls") as Jen's mother.

One big drawback to both shows: If you have Hulu with ads, commercials will interrupt scenes and dialogue to a maddening degree, because whatever technology Hulu uses to insert ad breaks into shows that aren't made with them (so basically any foreign series) is completely inept. It's almost annoying enough to spring for another $10 a month to go ad-free. Almost.

Who's Hulu for? TV lovers. There's a deep library for those who want older TV series and next-day streaming of many current network and cable shows.

Play, pause or stop? Play. "Shogun" is the best thing on TV so far this year, "The Veil" looks intriguing, and there's a lot more on top of that.

Netflix ($6.99 a month for basic with ads, $15.49 standard with no ads, $22.99 premium with no ads)

Netflix (NFLX) will unveil "Ripley" (April 4), a sumptuous-looking adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's 1955 novel - which was already brilliantly adapted in the 1999 movie starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow. Andrew Scott ("Fleabag," "Sherlock") stars this time around, alongside Johnny Flynn and Dakota Fanning. Creator Steve Zaillian and cinematographer Robert Elswit shot the series in black and white, to more effectively capture the original time period and its noirish elements, and Zaillian - whose writing credits include "The Night Of" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" - promises a "sinister and quite dark" take on the story of a murderous social climber. It's outstanding, one of the best shows of the year, so far.

Netflix's other big addition will be all six seasons of HBO's classic comedy "Sex and the City" (April 1) - which will continue to stream on Max, as well - as part of a mega-licensing deal that was reached last year. It's also adding all four seasons of the cat-and-mouse thriller "Killing Eve" (April 15) - the first season is amazing, but you can safely skip the rest - and all four seasons of the Starz pirate action series "Black Sails" (April 17). Netflix has also added all six seasons of USA's decade-old, breezy heist series "White Collar," though some of its episodes are reportedly mislabeled and shown out of order, which seems less than optimal.

There's also "Rebel Moon Part 2: The Scargiver" (April 19), the second half of Zack Snyder's laughably awful (and shockingly expensive) sci-fi epic; "Good Times" (April 12), a questionable animated reboot of the classic Norman Lear sitcom; Season 6 of the catfish-competition series "The Circle" (April 17); Season 5 of the family comedy "The Upshaws" (April 18), which looks superior in every way to the "Good Times" reboot; and "Dead Boy Detectives" (April 25), a paranormal mystery show that's part of Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" universe.

First impression: The blockbuster "3 Body Problem," which dropped at the end of March, is more of an interesting experiment than a good TV series. For its massive budget, the CGI often looks cheap (though one event in Episode 5 is pretty spectacular). The storytelling is shallow in too many places, too many characters lack depth and, overall, it lacks heart. Really, eight episodes wasn't enough, it would have been better served with 10 or 12, to flesh out more story and get deeper into characters. On the bright side, David Benioff, D. B. Weiss and Alexander Woo have probably been as successful as was possible at taking a sprawling, impossible-to-film epic and concentrating it to its essence, creating new characters and taking bits from all three books to meld together a new, more streamlined story. As flawed as this season is, it's still entertaining enough to be worth a watch. There are tantalizing hints of where it'll go in future seasons, and it'll be curious to see how it all unfolds (much like an 11-dimensional sophon). One more reason to be optimistic: The second book in the series, "The Dark Forest," is the best of the trilogy, and will likely be the basis for a second season, assuming there is one.

Auf Wiedersehen: There's bad news for those who've spent the past four years patiently waiting for Netflix to add a new season of "Babylon Berlin": It's not coming. The acclaimed detective series, set in pre-WWII Germany, aired its fourth season in Germany in 2022, but its streaming rights have been bought by MHz Choice, a new streaming service specializing in international series. The first three seasons have already vanished from Netflix, and will reportedly be available on MHz Choice in April, with the fourth season landing there in June.

Also leaving Netflix: All six seasons of "Community" and Shane Black's objectively perfect comedy/mystery movie "The Nice Guys," starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe.

Who's Netflix for? Fans of buzzworthy original shows and movies.

Play, pause or stop? Play. Netflix has done an impressive job in restocking its library with very watchable shows over the past year, and is still the best at offering something for everyone - including "3 Body Problem" and the hilarious new season of "Girls5Eva."

Max ($9.99 a month with ads, $15.99 with no ads, or $19.99 'Ultimate' with no ads)

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

04-05-24 0838ET

Copyright (c) 2024 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Market Updates

Sponsor Center