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Culture

13 unmissable TV shows you’ll want to add to your watch list

Jordan Alexander is just one of a host of new names bringing the cult Gossip Girl into a new decade

From mesmerizing new writing to buzzy returns, PORTER highlights the TV shows and sequels you’ll want to binge-watch to your heart’s content…

Lifestyle

Gossip Girl

In perhaps the most longed-for TV reboot of the decade, the cult show that captured hearts and wardrobes in the noughties is back with a roll call of exciting new names. Jordan Alexander, Emily Alyn and former fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson (indeed, her casting is no accident) join Kristen Bell, who returns as the all-seeing narrator of the high drama (and high fashion) that’s set to go down. On HBO Max from July

Jodie Turner-Smith plays the most infamous of Henry VIII’s wives in Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn

Retelling the life story of one of the most infamous queens in British history is no easy task, but the production company behind Rocks (the exquisite BAFTA-winning film by Sarah Gavron) has taken on this lofty mantle. The casting couldn’t be more perfect – Jodie Turner-Smith and Paapa Essiedu (from Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You) are magnificent as Anne and her devoted brother George. Expect bloodshed and betrayal in this clever new corset drama. On Channel 5 in the UK from June 1

In Loki, Tom Hiddleston returns to the titular role, alongside Owen Wilson as Mobius

Loki

Tom Hiddleston is back as motor-mouthed God of Mischief Loki (easily the best-loved villain/antihero/hero of the Marvel Cinematic Universe) in a show about correcting Avengers-induced timeline disruptions. It seems a peculiar responsibility to hand to the greatest trickster in the canon, but highly entertaining nonetheless. He’s joined by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Owen Wilson and, allegedly, Richard E Grant, so brilliant performances are guaranteed. All that’s missing is a cameo by Hiddleston’s best friend Benedict Cumberbatch (as MCU compatriot Dr Strange) and the internet will explode. On Disney+ from June 9

Nine Perfect Strangers

No one does blockbuster thrillers quite like Liane Moriarty. The Big Little Lies author is enjoying another TV adaptation, this time of her bestselling book Nine Perfect Strangers – an uncomfortably close-to-home tale of a wellness retreat gone wrong. Tune in to see a stellar ensemble cast – Nicole Kidman, Regina Hall, Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Boone – in what is sure to be one of this year’s TV highlights. On Hulu from August 18

Rose Byrne stars as Sheila Rubin in Physical, a new dark comedy from creator Annie Weisman

Physical

Spandex and perms are back in the spotlight in this thrilling new show, poised to pick up where Glow left off. Directed by Craig Gillespie of I, Tonya, Rose Byrne stars as an unhappily married mom-of-three, desperate to find a new lease of life and confidence boost in aerobics. Her hobby suddenly becomes a hustle when she accidentally capitalizes on the home-workout video phenomenon (remember, this is set peak-Olivia Newton-John in the ’80s), and it’s a totally uplifting and endlessly entertaining TV moment. On Apple TV+ from June 18

In Kevin Can F**k Himself, Annie Murphy (second left) stars alongside (left to right) Brian Howe, Alex Bonifer, Eric Petersen and Mary Hollis Inboden

Kevin Can F**k Himself

It comes as no surprise that Schitt’s Creek star Annie Murphy has been promoted to the leading lady of her very own sitcom. Blending dark with doting, she plays a housewife on the brink in this new black comedy – and there’s much buzz about the savvy script, too (exec-produced by Rashida Jones), which promises a takedown of sexist ’90s comedy shows. We’re in. On AMC from July

Cynthia Erivo stars as soul legend Aretha Franklin in Genius: Aretha

Genius: Aretha

Stepping into the shoes of the Queen of Soul is no easy feat, but the sublime Cynthia Erivo is already racking up future award nods for her portrayal of Aretha Franklin. This TV biopic follows the peaks and troughs of Franklin’s colossal career, as she navigates the ever-changing shifts in pop music but ultimately comes out on top. For fans and non-fans alike, it’s a fascinating slice of rock ’n’ roll history – with the seal of approval from Franklin’s long-term producer, the iconic Clive Davis, no less. On National Geographic in the US from March 21 and on Disney+ in the UK from June

Solos

This new anthology series has a roll call of prime-time heavyweights attached (Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Uzo Aduba, Constance Wu and more), and is set to be a hard-hitting drama like no other this spring. These are stories of love, loss and loneliness told through the eyes of each character in their very own episode. Be sure to look out for directorial cameos from Sam Taylor-Johnson and Zach Braff, too. Think Modern Love meets Black Mirror. On Amazon Prime from May 21

Kate Winslet stars in crime-drama Mare of Easttown

Mare of Easttown

The latest character-led HBO crime-drama is darker, dirtier and, dare we say, perhaps even better than last year’s The Undoing. Set in a run-down town plagued by petty drug crime, missing persons and now murder, the irascible detective alienating friends and family over the investigation is played with peppery perfection by Kate Winslet. Evan Peters, Guy Pearce and Angourie Rice join a stellar cast, playing possible allies and suspects. Gripping storylines + intriguing characters = viewing addiction. On HBO now

Newcomer Jessie Mei Li stars in Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone

This new fantasy series is adapted from Leigh Bardugo’s excellent Grisha trilogy and rooted in Russian folklore rather than Medieval England. The plot of a scrappy young map-maker, who unleashes supressed power and is recruited into the King’s Army, explores racial and gender discriminations in a narrative of weaponized magical appropriation, land-grab power plays, innocents, villains and voyagers. Fresh faces Jessie Mei Lei, Amita Suman, Archie Renaux and Freddy Carter are joined with a flourish by Ben Barnes and Zoe Wannamaker. On Netflix now

Elisabeth Moss as Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale

If the news isn’t quite post-apocalyptic enough at the moment, look no further than season four of The Handmaid’s Tale, which will bring a fresh helping of chaos, corruption and catastrophe. Rumor has it that this is the season Offred (Elisabeth Moss) finally escapes and brings down the regime, meaning that the day of reckoning could finally have arrived in this eerily-close-to-home drama. On Hulu now

Lily James and Emily Beecham in The Pursuit of Love

The Pursuit of Love

It’s been a minute since the last period drama went viral but, worry not, this new adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s 1945 classic is here to fill the Bridgerton-shaped hole in your life. Emily Mortimer brings her own English sensibility to the series – which she has written and directed herself – with Lily James and Emily Beecham as the best friends at the heart of the story, not to mention great cameos from Andrew Scott (Fleabag’s Hot Priest) and Call My Agent star Assaad Bouab. Expect plenty of wit, high-society hubbub and scene-stealing costumes. On BBC and Amazon Prime now

Thuso Mbedu stars in The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad

There has rarely been as perfect a marriage of content and direction than this adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, helmed by Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins. The show is every bit as haunting and compelling as it should be – with emerging stars Thuso Mbedu and Aaron Pierre bringing the characters of Cora and Caesar (two slaves in 19th-century America) to life with deep poignancy. Jenkins’ collaborator Nicholas Brittell (who scored both Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk) serves as composer to this evocative masterpiece. On Amazon Prime now

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