TV Check-in: April

TVCheckIn AprilSome incredible episodes aired in April, especially with the return of HBO’s The Leftovers and the premiere of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. And while these lists don’t typically including shows from streaming services, since The Handmaid’s Tale is having episodes released on a weekly basis, I decided to make an exception.

Let me know what shows you’re watching and how you feel about them in the comments!

Note: This list only includes shows that had episodes airing in April. Spoilers ahead!

 

Top Tier: Best This Month

This tier includes the shows that have excelled this month. At this point, I have no doubt I’ll continue watching these shows throughout the rest of the season, and likely even onto next season if they’re renewed.

1. THE LEFTOVERS (HBO)

The Leftovers

Airs at 10 ET/9 CT on Sundays.

Main cast: Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Margaret Qualley, Chris Zylka, Janel Moloney, Scott Glenn, Regina King, Kevin Carroll, Jovan Adepo, Jasmin Savoy-Brown

LAST CHECK-IN: Not yet aired.

For its third and final season, The Leftovers flew out of the gate with incredibly powerful, compelling, well-produced episodes. It’s rare that a show gets better and better with every season. It’s a shame that this is the show’s last season, but at least the series seems to be preparing a dramatic conclusion. The blend of superb cinematography and some of the most complex characters on TV makes it a standout. This season is including a bit more humor amongst the sometimes dreary storytelling, and it’s mixing it in seamlessly. This is undoubtedly the show to watch right now.

Diverse characters? There are a few black characters in the main cast.

 

2. THE HANDMAID’S TALE (HULU)

The Handmaid's Tale

New episodes released on Wednesdays.

Main cast: Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, O.T. Fagbenle, Max Minghella, Samira Wiley

LAST CHECK-IN: Not yet aired.

The adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel is incredibly compelling on screen.  With fantastic cinematography, strong writing, and captivating acting, the series is excellent all around. It can be difficult to watch at times, but that is essential for this kind of story. There are some changes from the book to the show, many of which includes modern updates. Offred (Elisabeth Moss) is less passive than the book, with an inner monologue full of attitude and resistance. Moss does an excellent job of bringing Offred to life. The show also adds a lot more diversity to the story, with multiple black characters in the main cast. I feel like this was a great choice, but the series needs to examine the impact on these non-white characters more given that Gilead is a highly conservative and racist society.  That being said, the show is off to a powerful start. And it couldn’t be a more relevant series.

Diverse characters? There are multiple black characters and lesbian characters in the main cast.

 

3. JANE THE VIRGIN (CW)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Mondays. On hiatus until April 24.

Main cast: Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo, Brett Dier, Yael Grobglas, Ivonne Coll, Jaime Camil, Justin Baldoni, Anthony Mendez (narrator)

LAST CHECK-IN: 1jane-the-virgin

All of the CW shows on this list only aired one episode this much, so there’s a lot less to consider. Yet Jane the Virgin kept pace in this episode. It was one of the funniest episodes of the season, focusing on Jane’s (Gina Rodriguez) hope for a fling with an actor on her father’s telenovela. But there’s also a compelling emotional core here: Jane’s publishing house wants to use the story of Michael’s (Brett Dier) to market the book. But Jane doesn’t want him to just become some story to sell her book. The episode does a lot to explore grief in heartbreaking ways, and it’s nice to see the show not just brush past the death of such a pivotal character.

Diversity? This show is built on a lot of diversity. Most of the main cast is Latinx, and culture is hugely significant to their characters. The show also deals with issues like immigration and religion. There are also a few minor LGBTQ characters.

 

4. SUPERSTORE (NBC)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Thursdays.

Main cast: America Ferrera, Ben Feldman, Lauren Ash, Colton Dunn, Nico Santos, Nichole Bloom, Mark McKinney

superstore

LAST CHECK-IN: 5

It’s amazing how strong Superstore has become as the season has gone on; the show really found its footing this year. It was a month of solid episodes, but the standout was Superstore‘s first wedding episode; it succeeded on all notes with its humor and drama. Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom) and Bo (Johnny Pemberton) had the fitting, hilarious wedding I hoped for. Among others, Sandra (Kaliko Kauahi), Dina (Lauren Ash), and Glenn (Mark McKinney) had plenty of hilarious moments. But as usual, the show managed to blend comedy and plot progression perfectly, setting the series up for a great season finale.

Diversity? The show has a lot of diversity, with both characters of color and gay characters. The series also has a character with a disability; however, this character is played by an able-bodied actor. One character is a gay, Filipino undocumented immigrant.

 

Middle Tier: Solid Shows

This tier includes the shows that I’m really happy with, but a big mistake could always stop me from watching them.

5. SPEECHLESS (ABC)

Airs at 8:30 ET/7:30 CT on Wednesdays.

Main cast: Minnie Driver, John Ross Bowie, Mason Cook, Micah Fowler, Kyla Kenedy, Cedric Yarbrough

TV: Speechless (ABC) – How Was the Pilot?speechless-screen

LAST CHECK-IN: 19

Speechless completely rebounded this month with two of the best episodes yet. Both did a phenomenal job of deepening the characters, for the most part using plots that focused on development more than comedy. JJ (Micah Fowler) in particular has a solid arc over these two episodes.

Diverse characters? Having a character with cerebral palsy played by an actor with cerebral palsy is enough diversity to make this show work. It also includes a few other diverse characters in the background and a black character in the main cast.

 

6. THE FOSTERS (FREEFORM)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Tuesdays.

Main cast: Sherri Saum, Teri Polo, David Lambert, Noah Centineo, Cierra Ramirez, Maia Mitchell, Hayden Byerly, Danny Nucci

NOAH CENTINEO, MAIA MITCHELL, HAYDEN BYERLY, DAVID LAMBERTLAST CHECK-IN: 4

April’s two episodes brought the season to an end, diving into more complicated territory. Callie (Maia Mitchell) hits a serious turning point, finally making progress in her case only to fall into a dangerous setback. The finale does a lot to set up the next season, especially with the privatization of Anchor Beach and the final outcome of Callie’s case and the new situation she ends up in. While The Fosters continues to excel in exploring challenging and important topics, the series could stand to close a few loose ends before diving into any new territory.

Diverse characters? The family-focused drama features an interracial lesbian couple and their children, most of whom are adopted. These children also have diverse backgrounds; two are Hispanic, and one is gay. There are also numerous other characters with diverse backgrounds, including a currently recurring transgender character.

7. THE MAGICIANS (SYFY)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Wednesdays.

Main cast: Jason Ralph, Stella Maeve, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Hale Appleman, Arjun Gupta, Summer Bishil

LAST CHECK-IN: 8

The Magicians got pretty intense over the last few episodes of the season. Quentin (Jason Ralph) is coming into his own as a character, becoming much more confident than in the past. Alice’s (Olivia Taylor Dudley) arc is showing us a new side of her character as well, and I can’t wait to see her develop as she tries to return to her former strength. But the story, odd and exciting as ever, reached a powerful high at the end of the season, setting up what is sure to be an exciting third season. Fairies invading Fillory? Count me in.

Diverse characters? There are a few characters of color and LGBTQ characters.

 

8. THE 100 (CW)

Demons

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Wednesday. On hiatus until April 26.

Main cast: Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco, Eli Goree, Bob Morley, Marie Avgeropoulos, Christopher Larkin, Devon Bostick, Isaiah Washington, Henry Ian Cusick, Lindsey Morgan, Richard Harmon, Zach McGowan

LAST CHECK-IN: 10

It’s hard to believe that I almost gave up on this show in the beginning of the season. The 100 is back at full strength. April’s one episode wasn’t as phenomenal as “God Complex,” but it kept the show’s intense survivalist pace. As each plan fails, the future looks more grim, and the characters make more difficult decisions. It’s hard to watch so many characters give up on fighting and see other characters simply deteriorate, but it makes for solid, believable character development.

Diversity? The show has a fairly diverse cast, with several characters of color and a few LGBTQ characters, including a bisexual lead.

 

9. LEGENDS OF TOMORROW (CW)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Tuesdays.

Main cast: Victor Garber, Brandon Routh, Arthur Darvill, Caity Lotz, Franz Drameh, Dominic Purcell, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Nick Zano, Amy Pemberton, Matt Letscher

LAST CHECK-IN: 11

Legends of Tomorrow brought its much-stronger second season to an end this month. The plot came to a well-written close, full of the flashy action the show excels at. Time travel got even more complicated as the team ran into past versions of themselves. It’s nice to see the show playing with the rules a bit. But it’ll be even more fun to see the show explore the consequences of them breaking the rules next season.

Diverse characters? There are multiple characters of color, as well as LGBTQ (Sara is bisexual) characters. Given that it’s a time travel show, the two black characters in the main cast (Jax and Amaya) have allowed the series to explore what it’s like to be black in history.

10. THE FLASH (CW)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Tuesdays. On hiatus until April 25.

Main cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Keiynan Lonsdale

LAST CHECK-IN: 12

Some of The Flash‘s best moments are when the series dives into the future or another reality. The episode that aired in April was no exception, giving us a look at the future that will come if Team Flash fails to save Iris (Candice Patton). The dark future upped the stakes, gave us a chance to see some old villains again, and gave the story a clear direction for future episodes.

Diversity? The main cast features numerous actors of color. There’s also a blended family, a major interracial relationship, and a few minor gay characters.

 

11. INTO THE BADLANDS (AMC)

Airs at 10 ET/9 CT on Sunday.

Main cast: Daniel Wu, Orla Brady, Sarah Bolger, Aramis Knight, Emily Beecham, Oliver Stark, Madeleine Mantock, Ally Ioannides, Marton Csokas, Nick Frost

LAST CHECK-IN: 7

Into the Badlands would have been much higher on the list if not for the most recent episode. The series is much stronger this season thanks to its expanded universe, but Sunny (Daniel Wu) still carries the show at some points. The most recent episode placed him in a comatose nightmare that felt almost entirely unnecessary and out of place. Spending so much time on a useless plot gimmick brought the episode down, especially when the episode lacked excitement even outside of Sunny’s nightmare.

Diversity? The show has a Chinese lead, and it has a few other characters of color as well.

 

12. SUPERGIRL (CW)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Mondays. On hiatus until April 24.

Main cast: Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, David Harewood, Chris Wood, Floriana Lima

supergirlLAST CHECK-IN: 13

It’s always nice when Supergirl remembers that Kara (Melissa Benoist) is trying to have an actual career when she isn’t out saving the city. The sole April episode did a great job of tying together her role as a hero and a reporter, and it also provided plenty of development for Lena (Katie McGrath). Still, the overall plot arc for the season is suffering. The episode did manage to sneak in a bit of progression to that plot arc, but when we’re this late in the season, the drama should be at an all-time high.

Diversity? The show has multiple people of color and LGBTQ characters. Supergirl is a rare female superhero lead, and she is also an alien; the show uses its numerous alien characters to explore a lot of issues such as immigration and human rights.

 

13. NEW GIRL (FOX)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Tuesdays.

Main cast: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Hannah Simone, Lamorne Morris

LAST CHECK-IN: 18

It’s clear that the writers for New Girl know this could be the last season. The season finale that aired early in April works fantastically as both a season and series finale, tying up most of the plot points while also leaving a few new areas that could be explored in depth with more episodes. The finale was easily one of the best (if not the best) episodes of a season that struggled to maintain my interest.

Diversity? The show has a few prominent characters of color, and it does actually explore that diversity every once in a while.

 

14. ARROW (CW)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Wednesdays. On hiatus until April 26.

Main cast: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Paul Blackthorne, Emily Bett Rickards, Echo Kellum, Josh Segarra, Rick Gonzalez, Juliana Harkavy

LAST CHECK-IN: 9

Arrow just keeps moving from down to up, bad to good, boring to compelling. This season is all over the place. And while the one episode that aired in April wasn’t the worst by any means, it just didn’t bring anything new to the season. There was some great moral back and forth between Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) as Felicity fell deeper into the Helix hole. But right now, Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra) is the most exciting part of the show, so it’s disappointing to see so little of him.

Diverse characters? There are some characters of color (two black characters and one Hispanic character in the main cast) and LGBTQ (one gay character in the main cast) characters.

 

 

15. GOTHAM (FOX)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Mondays.

Main cast: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Erin Richards, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith, Morena Baccarin, Jessica Lucas, Chris Chalk, Maggie Geha

LAST CHECK-IN: Not yet aired.

Gotham returned with an episode in April after a very long hiatus. I already prefer the direction it is heading in (I hated most of the first half of season three), and it’s nice to see an episode focused on Nygma (Cory Michael Smith). The episode threw a few fun twists our way, so I’m excited to see the direction the show heads in.

Diverse characters? The show has a few characters of color, as well as lesbian, gay, and bisexual characters.

 

Low Tier: On the Chopping Block

These shows have some redeeming to do if I’m going to continue watching them.

16. EMPIRE (FOX)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Wednesday.

Main cast: Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers, Grace Gealey, Ta’Rhonda Jones, Gabourey Sidibe, Serayah, Bre-Z, Morocco Omari, Xzibit

LAST CHECK-IN: 14

I feel like I’ve been saying the same thing about Empire all season: it has some entertaining drama, but it just doesn’t feel as fresh as it used to. The show is centered on the relationship between Lucious (Terrence Howard) and Cookie (Taraji P Henson), and it just feels like the same thing over and over. There are certainly other plot threads at hand here, but none of them are catching my interest.

Diversity? The cast is primarily black, and it also includes a few other characters of color and LGBTQ characters.

 

Bottom Tier: Eliminated This Month

These show, sadly, are already off my watch list.

17. SHOTS FIRED (FOX)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Wednesday.

Main cast: Sanaa Lathan, Stephan James, Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephen Moyer, Will Patton, Jill Hennessy, DeWanda Wise, Conor Leslie, Tristan Wilds, Clare-Hope Ashitey, Aisha Hinds

LAST CHECK-IN: 17

The reason I stopped watching Shots Fired: I just stopped caring. After just a few episodes, I decided I was too bored to tune in each week. Yes, the show has a ton of potential to intricately explore issues of racism and police shootings. It had potential to be important and have a strong message. But it went in too many unnecessary directions, and it failed to capitalize on all of its potential to make an impact.

Diversity? The cast is primarily black, with many primary white characters as well.

 

18. PRISON BREAK (FOX)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Tuesdays.

Main cast: Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, Sarah Wayne Callies, Amaury Nolasco, Robert Knepper, Rockmond Dunbar

LAST CHECK-IN: Not yet aired.

I was excited when I heard Prison Break was coming back. Then it premiered. Then I gave up on it in just a couple episodes. The bottom line: the show provides no adequate justification for its return. This season’s plot doesn’t reinvigorate it; it just feels like a lazy way to bring it back. To add to that, having a show focused on two white men but primarily set in the Middle East just feels problematic.

Diverse characters? There are nonwhite characters, but most of them are in the background.

 

Past TV Check-ins: January | February | March

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