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Spring TV Preview: 11 New and Returning Shows to Get Excited About

Plus, one can't-miss special with Michelle Obama and Matthew McConaughey

Thuso Mbedu, Michael Douglas and Katey Sagal

Kyle Kaplan/Amazon Studios; Anne Marie Fox/Netflix; Karen Ballard/ABC

(Left to right) Thuso Mbedu as Cora Randall in "The Underground Railroad," Michael Douglas as Sandy Kominsky in "The Kominsky Method" and Katey Sagal as Annie 'Rebel' Bello in "Rebel."

En español | Somehow, they did it: TV shows managed to deal with the incredible demands of the pandemic and social distancing, and the spring gift for us is this batch of sharp and enjoyable shows (and one special) that are premiering/returning in April and May. Mark your calendars for these small screen pleasures on arrival — both to networks and your favorite streaming platforms.

DON'T MISS THIS: The 20 Best Things Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in May

Home Economics (ABC, April 7)

Sixteen years after That '70s Show, Topher Grace returns to network TV in the only series about income inequality. He's a middle-class novelist richer than his therapist sister (Caitlin McGee), but poorer than their baby brother (Jimmy Tatro), who's in the 1 percent. SNL's brilliant Sasheer Zamata plays the therapist's relentlessly upbeat but underpaid schoolteacher wife.

Watch it: Home Economics, on ABC

Rebel (ABC, April 8)

Katey Sagal, 67 (Married…with ChildrenThe Conners) plays a sexy, messy legal advocate with no law degree but plenty of moxy in a show inspired by Erin Brockovich (who's producing the show) and created by Grey's Anatomy's Krista Vernoff. More than 27 million people watched the trailer, so it may be a hit.

Watch it: Rebel, on ABC

Big Shot (Disney+, April 16)

Full House's John Stamos, 57, plays a high-strung basketball coach sacked by the NCAA who gets a job as a high-school girls’ coach in a series by David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies).

Watch it: Big Shot, on Disney+

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Michelle Obama and Matthew McConaughey

NAACP via Getty Images; Gary Miller/Getty Images

Michelle Obama (left) and Matthew McConaughey

Roll Up Your Sleeves (NBC, April 18)

In this get-your-shot special, Michelle Obama, Lin-Manuel Miranda and other celebs urge you to get vaccinated and end COVID-19, while Matthew McConaughey interviews Anthony Fauci, M.D.

Watch it: Roll Up Your Sleeves, on NBC

Godfather of Harlem, Season 2 (Epix, April 18)

Forest Whitaker, 59, returns for his second season as Bumpy Johnson, the real-life 1960s mobster who dated Lena Horne, played chess with Lucky Luciano and befriended Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. Joining the cast: Method Man as the Philly Black Mafia chief Sam Christian and Annabella Sciorra as mob wife Fay Bonanno.

Watch it: Godfather of Harlem, on Epix

DON'T MISS THIS: Forest Whitaker talks with AARP about playing Bumpy Johnson and looks back on his life and shares what he knows now.

Mare of Easttown (HBO, April 18)

In this limited series, detective Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) hunts a killer of young women in her tumultuously troubled small Pennsylvania town, with Designing Women's Jean Smart, 69, as her tart-tongued mother, and Winslet's Mildred Pierce costar Guy Pearce as her college writing-prof sweetie.

Watch it: Mare of Easttown, on HBO

Rutherford Falls (Peacock, April 22)

The creator of The Good Place presents Ed Helms (The Office) as Nathan Rutherford, a descendant of his small town's founder whose statue may be torn down, while the local Native American tribe sues over Nathan's broken promises, and NPR comes to report on the fracas. Showrunner Sierra Teller Ornelas, who's Navajo and Mexican-American, oversees the writer's room, which includes four Indigenous writers — a first for a major TV series.

Watch it: Rutherford Falls, on Peacock

The Handmaid's Tale, Season 4 (Hulu, April 28)

June (Elisabeth Moss) has escaped Gilead, the totalitarian patriarchal theocracy that treats women poorly, and terrifying (yet in her own deranged mind maternal) Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd, 65), plans to get her back.

Watch it: The Handmaid's Tale, on Hulu

Pose, Season 3 (FX, May 2)

In its third and final season, the show with history's biggest LGBTQ cast jumps forward to New York in 1994, when AIDS became the leading cause of death for Americans ages 25 to 44. Our ballroom MC hero Pray Tell (Billy Porter, 51) contends with health troubles and upstart rivals.

Watch it: Pose, on FX

Antiques Roadshow: Celebrity Edition (PBS, May 3)

In four special episodes beginning May 3, Soledad O'Brien, S. Epatha Merkerson, Ruben Blades, Nancy Kerrigan, Jay Leno, Gbenga Akinnagbe, and 11 other big names find out whether their possessions are trash or hidden treasure, and reveal a lot about their lives.

Watch it: Antiques Roadshow: Celebrity Edition, on PBS

The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime, May 14)

In this limited series, hotshot director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) adapts Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about an alternate history in which the underground railroad, which smuggled enslaved people to freedom before the Civil War, was literally a railroad in tunnels beneath the South. Thuso Mbedu plays a Georgia plantation escapee pursued by a bounty hunter (Joel Edgerton).

Watch it: The Underground Railroad, on Amazon Prime

Michael Douglas stars in The Kominsky Method

Anne Marie Fox/Netflix

The Kominsky Method, Season 3 (Netflix, May 28)

In the new season, actor and acting coach Sandy Kominsky (Michael Douglas, 76) loses his best pal and agent (Alan Arkin), but gains a volatile ex-wife (Kathleen Turner, 66) in a drama about death, love, murder and dreams come true.

Watch it: The Kominsky Method, on Netflix

Tim Appelo is AARP’s film and TV critic. Previously, he was Amazon's entertainment editor, Entertainment Weekly’s video critic, and a writer for The Hollywood ReporterPeople, MTV, LA Weekly and The Village Voice.