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What to Watch on TV and Streaming This Week

The best new TV series of the year drops this week

En español | With Juneteenth coming next month, there’s never been a better time to dig into Amazon’s masterful new 10-episode limited series The Underground Railroad, which drops this week. Find out why our critics are crazy about it, below, and also get a sneak peek at the biggest summer movies that are coming to our TV screens. And pass the remote!

Do not miss this masterful new series

The Underground Railroad (Amazon)

You knew this 10-episode adaptation of MacArthur genius Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer and National Book Award-winning novel about escaping slaves by Oscar winner Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk) would be worth seeing. But it turns out to be an epic, Handmaid’s Tale-topping dystopian masterpiece that dwarfs every other new film or TV show. It’s grittily realistic and dreamily inspiring, excruciatingly brutal and exhilaratingly poetic, sonically and cinematographically superb, firmly anchored in historical events and characters and soaring into surrealistic nightmare worlds. The heroine, Cora (Thuso Mbedu), flees a Georgia master bloodthirstier than Emperor Nero, but finds that each state she escapes to has its own peculiar horrors: North Carolina kills Blacks on sight; South Carolina is an apparent paradise that conceals evil secrets. Even Cora’s nemeses — bounty hunter Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton) and his chilling 11-year-old sidekick Homer (Chase Dillon) — are complex characters, not cartoon villains. Don’t miss this one.

Watch it: The Underground Railroad, on Amazon Prime

DON’T MISS THIS: 11 Black Filmmakers You Should Know

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We feel a new Netflix binge coming on ...

Ewan McGregor stars in the Netflix series Halston

Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

Halston (Netflix)

Ewan McGregor, 50, tackles a role even more mythical than Obi-Wan Kenobi: poor, lonely Indiana lad Roy Halston Frowick, who reinvented himself as the fashion designer of Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hat and eye-popping costumes for Liza Minnelli (Krysta Rodriguez), and blew it all on blow, rent boys, orchids, overreaching greed, and way too many wee-hours revels with boldface names at Studio 54, the disco so popular one patron actually died trying to sneak in via a vent. The drama is over the top — and that’s very Halston.

Watch it: Halston, on Netflix

Some of the summer’s hottest new films are coming to ... your TV!

Ellen Burstyn, Kevin Hart and Jennifer Hudson

Ray Bengston; Philippe Bosse/Netflix; Quantrell D. Colbert/MGM

(Left to right) Ellen Burstyn in "Queen Bees," Kevin Hart in "Fatherhood" and Jennifer Hudson in "Respect."

Yes, movie theaters are back (in part), and yes, some of summer’s blockbusters are opening on big screens, but streaming powerhouses like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ are also opening big films on small screens this summer. Check out what’s coming with our critics’ guide, and plump the sofa cushions!

Check it out: AARP's Summer 2021 Movie Preview

Your Netflix must-watch of the week is here!

Layer Cake (2004)

A supersmooth London-based cocaine distributor (Daniel Craig, 53) tries to retire from a life of crime, but his boss has one last job involving a million hits of ecstasy stolen from a nasty Serbian drug lord and kidnapping the teen daughter of another gangster (immortal Michael Gambon). A ripping yarn.

Watch it: Layer Cake, on Netflix

WHAT ELSE IS NEW ON NETFLIX: The 20 Best Things Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in May

From football and ice hockey to professional wrestling, these TV comedies are all-star fun

Jason Sudeikis stars in Ted Lasso and Ralph Macchio in Cobra Kai

Apple TV+; Guy D'Alema/Netflix

Jason Sudeikis (left) and Ralph Macchio

Take your local live sports seriously? We know, we know. But there’s a wonderfully funny world of sports sitcoms out there, and what with Ted Lasso ruling the airwaves right now (have you watched?), our critics thought it was high time we named names. From Coach to this week’s new show Big Shot, check out our hottest new watch list: The Best Sports-Themed Sitcoms to Stream Now

Believe it or not, there are new shows coming to TV this spring!

Thuso Mbedu, Michael Douglas and Katey Sagal

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

(Left to right) Thuso Mbedu, Michael Douglas and Katey Sagal

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 all is this batch of sharp and enjoyable TV 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. Get the inside scoop, here: Spring TV Preview: 11 New and Returning Series to Get Excited About

Love Law & Order? Have we got a list for you!

The cast members of Law and Order and Law and Order Special Victims Unit

Kevin Foley/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images; Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank

If you’ve been part of Law & Order nation since Jerry Orbach was shaking his head at corpses on the mean streets of New York in the 1990s, we know you’ve followed the spin-offs and have watched some of them become blockbusters. But which ones are the best of the best? Our critics have ranked all seven Law & Order iterations, plus offered up the very best episode from each series to watch right now. It’s a dream come true. Check it out here: What’s the Best Law & Order Series of All Time?

George Clooney is out of this world!

triptych of george clooney smiling and laughing

John Russo/Getty Images

What do AARP and George Clooney have in common? Our biggest cinematic honor, it turns out. The 60-year-old actor and director received AARP Movies for Grownups’ annual Career Achievement Award, at the Movies for Grownups Awards, broadcast for the fourth consecutive year by Great Performances on PBS. Read all about it here: George Clooney: Movies for Grownups Career Achievement Honoree

Who’s a Wheel watcher?

Pat Sajak interacts with the contestants on Wheel of Fortune

Carol Kaelson/ViacomCBS

If you’re anything like us, you cut your Q&A teeth on America’s great quiz and game shows, all the way from To Tell the Truth and What’s My Line? to The $10,000 Pyramid and the newly rebooted Supermarket Sweep. Our critics risk Double Jeopardy by not only naming the best game shows in TV history but ranking them all the way to No. 1. Do our answers match yours? Survey says!: The Best Game Shows in TV History, Ranked

Calling All Friends Fans ...

Could we be any happier that HBO Max is running all 10 seasons of Friends? And can you believe that the entire cast is now age 50-plus? In honor of one of TV’s best ensemble casts ever joining the AARP cohort, we’ve gone down the trivia rabbit hole and emerged with a brand-new TV for Grownups quiz: How Well Do You Know These “Friends”? We’ve got trivia about the real cast members as well as their characters. Have fun testing your recall, and challenge your fellow fans.

Take the quiz here: How Well Do You Really Know These “Friends”?

Also Catch Up With ...

The Upshaws


Comedian/actress and force of nature Wanda Sykes produces and stars in a sitcom about an Indianapolis working-class couple, Bennie and Regina (Mike Epps from Survivor’s Remorse and The Facts of Life’s Kim Fields), who are raising three kids and his teen son from another woman. But Bennie’s biggest challenge is his tart-tongued sister-in-law, Lucretia (Sykes), who thinks he’s a charming, well-meaning and total mess of a man.

Watch it: The Upshaws, on Netflix

DON’T MISS THIS: Wanda Sykes Brings the Funny When We Need It Most


(HBO Max)

In the intergenerational show of the year, Jean Smart (Designing Women, Mare of Easttown) stars as a Las Vegas comedy legend forced to mentor an up-and-coming comic (Hannah Einbinder). The show is much-buzzed, and insiders predict that Smart, who got Emmy nominations for Watchmen, Fargo and 24, may land her first lead actress nomination for this extremely juicy role. High time!

Watch it: Hacks, on HBO Max

DON’T MISS THIS: Getting Smart: Jean Smart shares her secrets about feeling sexy and nabbing the best roles of her life at 69

Shrill, Season 3


In the final season of the show inspired by Lindy West’s brilliant autobiographical book, Shrill, Northwest alternative-weekly reporter Annie (SNL’s Aidy Bryant) dives back into the dating pool and faces big trouble at her newspaper, whose mercurial boss is based on West’s old frenemy/mentor Dan Savage.

Watch it: Shrill, on Hulu

DON’T MISS THIS: SNL Star Julia Sweeney Comes Back in Shrill

Mare of Easttown

(HBO, Sundays, 10 p.m. ET)

If you liked True Detective and Sharp Objects, you can’t afford to miss the year’s most obsession-worthy drama — a seven-part limited series that stars Kate Winslet as Mare, a detective hunting the killer of young women in her tumultuously troubled small Pennsylvania town. Mare lost her son to suicide and lives with her toddler grandson, daughter and tart-tongued mom (Designing Women’s Jean Smart, 69). The fantastic cast includes Winslet’s Mildred Pierce costar Guy Pearce, as her college-writing-professor sweetie.

Watch it: Mare of Easttown, on HBO

Godfather of Harlem, Season 2

(Epix, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)

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 are Cliff “Method Man” Smith, 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.

Rutherford Falls


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 Rutherford’s broken promises. NPR then comes in to report on the fracas. Showrunner Sierra Teller Ornelas, who’s Navajo and Mexican American, oversees the writers room, which includes four Indigenous staffers — a first for a major TV series.

Watch it: Rutherford Falls, on Peacock

My Love: Six Stories of True Love


How on earth can you make love last? Find out, as six filmmakers follow one couple each in Rio, Korea, Tokyo, India, Spain and the U.S. The pairs have been together for anywhere from 43 to 60 years, and they share the secret of romantic success. Fans of The Bachelor, take notes!

Watch it: My Love, on Netflix

Concrete Cowboy


Far more than People’s 2018 sexiest man alive, Idris Elba, 48, mounts a horse as Harp in director Ricky Staub’s uplifting father-son drama. It’s set in the real-life but little-known community of Black cowboys at the Fletcher Street Stables on the fringe of a gentrifying Philadelphia neighborhood. Based on Gregory Neri’s best-selling YA novel Ghetto Cowboy, the strongly acted, leisurely paced family drama costars Stranger Things’ Caleb McLaughlin as Harp’s estranged son Cole, who gradually learns the cowboy way. The film captures a fascinating urban subculture threatened with extinction — and Elba’s fans will follow the Golden Globe-winning Luther star anywhere, including horseback.

Watch it: Concrete Cowboy, on Netflix

DON’T MISS THIS: The 14 Best Things Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix in April

Mayans M.C., Season 3

(FX, Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET)

Sixteen months after the cliffhanger Season 2 finale, Edward James Olmos returns as the troubled patriarch whose once-promising sons got mixed up in a motorcycle gang on the California/Mexico border, in a spinoff of Sons of Anarchy.

Watch it: Mayans M.C., on FX and streaming the next day on Hulu

DON’T MISS THIS: Edward James Olmos tells AARP his plan to live to 120

Coming 2 America

(Amazon Prime)

Happily married Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy, 59, who also plays multiple supporting characters) ascends the Zamundan throne after the death of King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones, 90). The rules of succession demand a male heir. So Akeem and wingman Semmi (Arsenio Hall, 65) go back to Queens — and the illegitimate son (Jermaine Fowler) he unwittingly left behind. The cast is so delicious — charismatic Wesley Snipes (58) as the evil general from Nextdoria, brassy baby mama Leslie Jones (53) and funky Tracy Morgan (52) as the lad’s uncle, to name a few, plus musical guests John Legend, Gladys Knight (76) and Salt-N-Pepa. —Thelma M. Adams (T.M.A.)

Watch it: Coming 2 America, on Amazon Prime Video

DON’T MISS THIS: Eddie Murphy’s 10 Best Movies, Ranked

The United States vs. Billie Holiday 


Singer Andra Day channels Holiday’s haunting voice and haunted soul in Lee Daniels’ film about the jazz genius and Federal Bureau of Narcotics chief Harry Anslinger’s relentless quest to destroy her. Why the obsession? Not merely because Holiday had a drug addiction — the anti-lynching song “Strange Fruit” threatened to become the mournful anthem of a movement. “She kicked off the civil rights movement by defying the government to sing a song about Black people being lynched,” says director Daniels, the first Black Oscar nominee for both best picture and director (for Precious). —Lisa Kennedy

Watch it: The United States vs. Billie Holiday, on Hulu

RELATED: Get in the Swing With These 8 Irresistible Jazz Movies

RELATED: 17 Entertaining Biopic Movies to Watch Now

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 


Viola Davis and, in his last role, the late Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) star in Pulitzer Prize-winner August Wilson’s illustrious tale of Ma Rainey, the 1920s Mother of the Blues. It’s hard to say which actor scores the more towering performance. It’s like a duet between geniuses — or, since they’re fighting bitterly over how Ma should record her music, old-dirty-blues-tent-show style or hepcat modern jazz style — an acting duel. Both win, as do all of us.

Watch it: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, in theaters and on Netflix

RELATED: Viola Davis tells AARP about Ma Rainey, August Wilson, aging, her big break, and what happens when you get everything you always wanted. Read it here: Viola Davis Finds a Powerful Voice

I Care a Lot


Evil legal guardian Marla (Gone Girl’s Rosamund Pike) is delighted to meet Jennifer (Woody Allen’s Oscar-magnet actress Dianne Wiest), because the elderly lady has no close relatives and oodles of cash — the perfect person to defraud and rob. But surprise! Jennifer also has a Russian gangster friend (Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage) who’s a match for Marla.

Watch it: I Care a Lot, on Netflix

RELATED: Protect yourself and loved ones with AARP’s Fraud Watch Network: Scam, Fraud Alerts

Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy

(CNN, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)

Who needs a real trip to Italy? It’s more fun to tag along with The Hunger Games star and eloquent gourmand Stanley Tucci as he returns to the land of his forebears, noshing and sipping his way through six cities and their signature dishes — from Naples tomatoes to Milanese pizzoccheri.  

Watch it: Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, on CNN

GET BEHIND THE SCENES: Tucci talks with AARP about his touching new film Supernova, which follows a couple (played by Tucci and his longtime real-life pal Colin Firth) on a last sentimental journey to England’s picturesque Lake District, the land of Romantic poetry, as Tucci’s character copes with early-stage Alzheimer’s. Read it here: Stanley Tucci Explores the Landscape of Love and Early Dementia

All Creatures Great and Small

(PBS, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)

Want to escape America in 2021? Flee to comforting 1930s Yorkshire, as a newcomer veterinarian (Nicholas Ralph) copes with small-village folkways, lovable dogs, difficult cow pregnancies, an irritable boss (Mr. Selfridge’s Samuel West) and eccentric animal owners like Mrs. Pumphrey (the late Diana Rigg in her last role), who just might pamper her Pekingese puppy Tricki Woo to death. It’s an all-new version of the classic book, just republished in a 50th-anniversary edition.

Watch it: All Creatures Great and Small, on PBS

Call Your Mother

(ABC, Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m. ET)

In her new sitcom showing off her comedy chops, The Closer star Kyra Sedgwick plays an empty-nester mom who moves thousands of miles to get back into her kids’ lives.

Watch it: Call Your Mother, on ABC

RELATED: Kyra Sedgwick tells AARP how she dealt with her own empty nest, shares the quarantine baking project she’s obsessed with and explains how Call Your Mother can help us all get through pandemic times: Read more here.

Your Honor


Bryan Cranston, who played a good-hearted teacher forced to go criminal to save his family on Breaking Bad, plays a New Orleans judge scheming to help his son escape a hit-and-run accident charge in a high-stakes cat-and-mouse game with the law.

Watch it: Your Honor, on Showtime

RELATED: Cranston talks with AARP about his two good bad-guy roles and his real-life near-recovery from COVID-19: Bryan Cranston Is Back to Challenge Our Loyalties in Your Honor

The Life Ahead


At 86, Sophia Loren is back! In her terrific new tearjerker, directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, she heartwarmingly plays a former prostitute, Holocaust survivor and caretaker for streetwalkers’ children. She looks after an orphaned African street kid (Ibrahima Gueye), grudgingly at first, and develops a deep bond with him.

Watch it: The Life Ahead, on Netflix

RELATED: Sophia Loren tells AARP about her comeback and her six life lessons

The Trial of the Chicago 7


An utterly wonderful, vivid dramatization of the trial of Chicago’s 1968 demonstrators, with bravura performances by Frank Langella as Judge Julius Hoffman, Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, Michael Keaton as Ramsey Clark and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Seale.

Watch it: The Trial of the Chicago 7, on Netflix

RELATED: Frank Langella tells AARP about The Trial of the Chicago 7, his string of history-based hits and the best time of his life — his 80s — here: All Rise for Frank Langella

Netflix’s Black Lives Matter Collection

Netflix unveils a useful, intelligently curated menu of 48 or so top titles including When They See Us, Moonlight, Malcolm X and the current must-see, Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods (which could win star Delroy Lindo the Oscar he’s deserved for some time, and maybe the Emmy, too).

Watch it: On Netflix

Tim Appelo covers entertainment and is the film and TV critic for AARP. Previously, he was the entertainment editor at Amazon, video critic at Entertainment Weekly, and a critic and writer for The Hollywood Reporter, People, MTV, The Village Voice and LA Weekly.

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