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Josh Brolin in Amazon’s ‘Outer Range,’ Nicole Kidman in Apple's 'Roar,' Season 2 of Netflix’s ‘Russian Doll’ - What’s Upstream for April 14-20

Amazon series 'Outer Range'
(Image credit: Amazon)

Josh Brolin can be found on the small screen for the first time in 19 years this week in Amazon’s Outer Range, a Wyoming rancher tale with a decidedly supernatural twist. Netflix has the second season of its surreal Russian Doll, Melissa James Gibson's latest show, Anatomy of a Scandal, and true-crime documentary Conversation with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes. Meanwhile, Showtime features ensemble series The First Ladies, starring Viola Davis as Michelle Obama, Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford and Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt. Showtime will also present documentary Cypress Hill: Insane In The Brain, which will be released on…. you guessed it, 4/20. Here's what's upstream:

Killing It (Peacock, April 14)

Craig Robinson stars in this half-hour comedy series created by Brooklyn Nine-Nine producers Luke Del Tredici and Dan Goor as a security guard who, via an Uber driver, enters the world of python hunting to get rich. Robinson, who has played many memorable character roles in successful shows including Darryl Philbin in NBC's The Office and Reg Mackworthy in HBO's Eastbound & Down, has also starred in two previous not-so-successful series,  Mr. Robinson and Ghosted. The third time could be a charm for Robinson, who also serves as an executive producer on the 10-episode Killing It. Robinson's co-stars include Claudia O’Doherty (Trainwreck) Stephanie Nogueras (The Good Fight) and Rell Battle (Black-ish) and a ton of big snakes.

Not So Pretty (HBO Max, April 14)

Longtime documentary filmmakers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick are good at exposing the underbelly of tough issues ranging from rape crimes on U.S. college campuses (The Hunting Ground), to the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the U.S. military (Invisible War) to hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons alleged sexual misconduct (On The Record). Their latest four-part docuseries is an expose of the trillion-dollar cosmetics, beauty and personal care industry. Turns out that some hair, nail, skin and makeup products contain toxic chemicals like, say asbestos. “Not So Pretty won’t be the most entertaining documentary you’ll ever watch, nor the most artful nor the most moving — though it’s at least entertaining, artful and moving enough to keep a viewer engaged. But it’s valuable as the start of a larger conversation to be had about the hidden dangers of the beauty industry, for consumers and viewers alike, wrote The Hollywood Reporter’s Angie Han.

Roar (Apple TV Plus, April 15)

Based on the eponymous short story collection by Cecelia Ahern, this anthology series uses dark comedy and magical realism to explore how women deal with adversity in today’s world. Each of the eight standalone episodes tackles a different situation and features different actresses in leading roles,  including Nicole Kidman, Issa Rae (Insecure), Merritt Wever (Marriage Story), Cynthia Erivo (Genius) and Alison Brie (Glow). Co-created by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch (Glow) the series also features an impressive co-star line-up including Judy Davis (Feud), Alfred Molina (Spider-Man: No Way Home) and Simon Baker (The Mentalist). Roar is executive produced by Kidman and is her latest successful book-to-screen adaptation following Big Little Lies, The Undoing and Nine Perfect Strangers. The actress has good taste in books, making Roar a promising watch. "Tones and takeaways may change, but the show’s consistent howl is motivating. Roar recognizes how much time it has to deliver its messages, making the most of its 30 minutes, each and every time," wrote Ben Travers for IndieWire.

Outer Range (Amazon Prime Video, April 15)

In 2003, Josh Brolin starred in the television series Mister Sterling, a NBC drama that was cancelled after just one season. Brolin went onto critically acclaimed films including No Country For Old Men, W., and Milk and eventually took on the role of Thanos for Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now, after 19 years, the movie star is returning to the small screen to portray Wyoming rancher Royal Abbott, man with a missing daughter-in-law and a neighbor who wants his land. If it sounds like your typical Western or the next Yellowstone, just wait until you hear about Abbott’s discovery of a mysterious black void in his pasture. In the last two decades,  The first season will consist of eight episodes, with two episodes premiering every week starting April 15. "Outer Range isn’t consistently satisfying as a drama series, though as an extended metaphor for television viewing circa 2022, this story of a Wyoming family throwing things in a mysterious hole on their ranch is at least unintentionally savvy," wrote Dan Fienberg for the Hollywood Reporter

Anatomy of a Scandal (Netflix, April 15)

House of Cards showrunner Melissa James Gibson, wrote, executive produced and served as showrunner for this six-part miniseries about sexual consent and privilege. Based on the Sarah Vaughan eponymous 2018 novel, the six-part series is about Sophie (Sienna Miller), who decides to stand by her politician husband James (Rupert Friend) after he is accused of an affair with one of his aides. Sound familiar? This ripped from the headlines psychological thriller/courtroom drama has so far aggregated just 46% on Rotten Tomatoes. "Out of all the thriller fare that Kelley has adapted for the small screen to date, the whole of Anatomy of a Scandal is disappointingly much less compelling than the sum of its parts," wrote Carly Lane for Collider

The First Lady (Showtime, April 17)

This anthology series follows presidential couples throughout American history. Viola Davis plays Michelle Obama, while Michelle Pfeiffer portrays Betty Ford and Gillian Anderson takes on Eleanor Roosevelt. The 10-episode series, created by Aaron Cooley, is executive produced by Oscar-winner Cathy Schulman (Crash), who also serves as showrunner. The First Lady is an in-depth look at three women as they navigate the White House. “The most successful aspect of The First Lady, and the one that raises the question of why this first season didn’t just belong to her in the first place, is Pfeiffer’s Betty Ford. As a woman thrust so suddenly into the role that she could barely catch her breath before throwing her first State dinner, Pfeiffer immediately clicks into Betty’s bewildered amusement, private pain, and eventual determination to do some actual good,” wrote Variety’s Caroline Framke.

White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch (Netflix, April 19)

Remember that 1990’s “all-American” retail chain Abercrombie & Fitch?  This documentary from Alison Klayman (Jagged, Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry) explains what happened to the brand and its discriminatory marketing campaigns and hiring practices under CEO Mike Jeffries. A 2004 class-action suit brought by Black, Latino, Asian and female employees are examined, as is a 2015 lawsuit filed by a Muslim woman who alleged that she was denied a job at the preppy clothing store due to wearing a head scarf. "The result is a complex picture of a corporation that once only wanted to invite to its table homogenized white sales forces, and then not only learned to regret it but eventually pivoted to become inclusive for all," wrote Randy Myers for the San Jose Mercury News

Russian Doll – Season 2 (Netflix, April 20)  

Set four years after Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) and Alan (Charlie Barnett) escaped mortality’s time loop, Season 2 of Russian Doll will see the duo discover a time portal located in one of Manhattan’s most notorious locations, which causes both Nadia and Alan to face their past. Russian Doll Season 1 premiered in 2019 and was nominated for 13 Emmys, winning three. So far, the sophomore season has scored an aggregated 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. “Season Two is no lazy rehash. The tone is similar, even though the story and sci-fi gimmick are different. In many ways, it’s more audacious in scope and themes,” wrote Alan Sepinwall for Rolling Stone.  

Conversation with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes (Netflix, April 20)

Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger is a pro when it comes to telling true crime stories. He’s the director behind HBO’s Paradise Lost trilogy and Netflix’s Crime Scene series. Conversation with a Killer is a series that launched with Ted Bundy back in 2019, which used present-day interviews, archival footage and audio recordings of Bundy to tell the story of the serial killer. The second edition of the three-part series follows the same format as Season 1 and focuses on  John Wayne Gacy, a Chicago contractor and part-time clown-for-hire who murdered 33 young men between 1972 and 1976. The majority of his victims were found buried under his house, in northwest suburbs of Chicago. In the series, DNA scientists attempt to identify all of his victims, while also trying to answer the burning question: How did Gacy get away with murder for so long? 

Cypress Hill: Insane In The Brain (Showtime, April 20)

It’s a fitting release date for this documentary about the lives and careers of the legendary hip hop group, Cypress Hill, which has sold over 20 million albums worldwide over the last three decades. The film is a behind-the-scenes look at the rap group’s rise to fame that  uses never-before-seen archival footage and images of the group, which featured Real, DJ Muggs, Sen Dog and Eric “Bobo” Correa. The doc is part of Showtime’s Hip Hop 50 series.