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TV preview: Spring brings strong lineup of shows to streaming services

(Emily Dembinski/Illustrations Director)

By Paige Hua and Alyson Kong

April 9, 2021 3:13 p.m.

This post was updated April 11 at 7:55 p.m.

It’s bingeing season – TV-landia is getting a highly anticipated spring makeover.

For viewers looking for a new fixing or a return back to established fictional worlds, studios are pulling all the stops to deliver. Though it can be a chore to sort through the influx of content across the ever-diversifying streaming services, the competition has given life to an expansive niche of stories.

From dystopias to nostalgic throwbacks, here are the Daily Bruin’s picks for the hottest shows this spring.

(Courtesy of Netflix)
(Courtesy of Netflix)

“Shadow and Bone” (Netflix)

Nearly a decade after the release of Leigh Bardugo’s “Shadow and Bone” trilogy, the series is finally gaining its on-screen adaptation.

Set to premiere April 23 on Netflix, the show not only follows trilogy events but also blends the plot with characters and storylines found in Bardugo’s sequel duology, “Six of Crows.” The series’ focus, however, will remain on Alina Starkov (Jessica Mei Li), who discovers her Grisha abilities as a Sun Summoner during her trip across the Shadow Fold, a sea of darkness that splits the fictional country of Ravka off from its western ports.

Alina’s rise from cartographer to a Grisha – the magical beings of Bardugo’s world – capable of harnessing light catapults her into the Darkling’s (Ben Barnes) path of interest. And the duo is almost sure to propel the show into the center of the pop culture zeitgeist with Li being a refreshing person of color to lead in a young adult fantasy and Barnes being loved from his days of Prince Caspian in “The Chronicles of Narnia.” With the two helming the show, Netflix clearly has a bit of magic in its hands.

Done right, the Grishaverse could be a fantasy world for the ages.

[Related: Film preview: Spring 2021 brings much-anticipated postponed features to the silver screen]

(Courtesy of Hulu)
(Courtesy of Hulu)

“The Handmaid’s Tale” Season 4 (Hulu)

How much is too much when it comes to the price of freedom?

The Emmy-winning show returns for a 10-episode season on Hulu on April 28, picking up after a thrillingly tense cliffhanger where June (Elizabeth Moss) suffers grave injuries during a rescue mission to save children from the totalitarian state. Season four’s trailer amps up the stakes, showing viewers glimpses of the rough road ahead as June and other handmaids confront the repercussions of their rebellious choices while Gilead becomes increasingly militarized.

Based on the trailer’s reactions so far, emotions are bound to be running high as the fate of fan-favorite characters like Janine (Madeline Brewer) and Hannah (Jordana Blake) hang in the balance. And alongside the return of a solid ensemble cast, audiences can also look forward to lead actress Moss making her directorial debut in season four.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” has demonstrated a superb track record in storytelling, and the series will likely continue such a feat in Gilead’s new age of reckoning.

(Courtesy of Marvel Studios)
(Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

“Loki” (Disney+)

The God of Mischief is back, and it’s clear he’s out to upturn the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Releasing June 11 on Disney+, “Loki” joins the ranks of “WandaVision” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” as Marvel’s famed forays into television. And it’s clear fans can hardly wait to see one of Marvel’s most beloved villains being afforded the backstory and depth usually only privy to heroes. The series, like those before it, picks up after the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” as the Loki of the post-tesseract theft timeline becomes responsible for setting things right.

From the trailers, the series seems to begin in a time bubble where Loki is charged with the crime of creating a multiverse of timelines without an end in sight. The chaos draws the attention of the Time Variance Authorities, more specifically, agent Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson). As opposing characters, the tension between the TVA agent trying to set time right and the God of Mischief who clearly has his own agenda already speaks to the impending fun and pandemonium.

And if Marvel’s track record so far in television says anything, then fans surely have little to worry about when it comes to “Loki.”

[Related: “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” season 1 recap – episode 1: “New World Order“]

(Courtesy of Peacock)
(Courtesy of Peacock)

“Girls5eva” (Peacock)

Channeling the energy of ’90s girl groups, “Girls5eva” harnesses the musical qualities of its cast for a May 6 premiere of a Peacock original comedy.

Created by Mereditch Scardino of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and executive produced by “30 Rock’s” Tina Fey, the show clearly taps into NBC’s familiar brand of laugh-out-loud comedy. But if the casting is anything to go by, the series has a chance to break boundaries as a group of once-famous middle-age women are thrust together for another shot at the spotlight.

Boasting the vocal talent of alumna Sara Bareilles and “Hamilton’s” famed Renée Elise Goldsberry, “Girls5eva” is sure to be both entertaining and catchy. And for viewers who remember a time when music was dominated by girl groups and boy bands, the show sets itself up to be a nostalgic trip down memory lane as the Peacock original revisits an era of neon color palettes and lyrical nonsense.

Depending how the season goes, “Girls5eva” might just give this Peacock its legs as a streamer.

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Paige Hua | Arts senior staff
Hua was the 2020-2021 Arts editor. She was previously the Theater | Film | Television Arts assistant editor.
Hua was the 2020-2021 Arts editor. She was previously the Theater | Film | Television Arts assistant editor.
Alyson Kong | Alumna
Kong served as the Theater | Film | Television editor for the Daily Bruin from 2020-2021. She was previously an A&E reporter from 2019-2020.
Kong served as the Theater | Film | Television editor for the Daily Bruin from 2020-2021. She was previously an A&E reporter from 2019-2020.
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