Five things to watch this May - from Conversations with Friends to the Time Traveller's Wife

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Photo credit:  Enda Bowe
Photo credit: Enda Bowe

A new month brings with it a roster of enticing new TV offerings. May's line up is especially prestige, featuring two long-awaited literary adaptations. Chief among them is Conversations with Friends – the BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney's cult debut novel which follows the huge success of 2020's Normal People and is helmed by the same creative team. The beloved bestseller The Time Traveller's Wife is also getting the small screen treatment, with a six-part limited series starring Rose Leslie. May also sees the dramatisation of the true-crime phenomenon The Staircase, starring an unforgettable Colin Firth, and the penultimate season of Netflix's sci-fi behemoth, Stranger Things.

Here's our essential watch list for the month ahead...

1/ The Flight Attendant

It was one of 2021’s most enjoyable breakout hits – a Hitchcockian thriller with dark comedic millennial beats. You know the drill; guy meets girl, girl wakes up the next morning in bed next to his dead body with no memory of what happened… hilarity ensues. For The Big Bang Theory’s Kayley Cuoco, it was a game changer; rebranding her as a leading lady with dramatic chops to add to her proven sitcom charm. The hugely compelling series; a twisted mish mash of murders, spies, international travel, therapy from beyond the grave and hallucinated rabbits (yes, really) is now back for a second run. Freshly sober, the titular flight attendant Cassie (Cuoco) is now working a secret second job as a CIA asset but is – despite a year of sobriety – still battling demons within herself. For viewers who loved the first season’s trippier aspects, this inner struggle is, once more, manifested literally – and to great effect. While it would be cruel to divulge the spills and thrills of the plot, what can be said is that all your cast favourites are back, including the scene-stealing Zosia Mamet as Cassie’s best friend Annie, and Rosie Perez as the highly complex Megan. There are also some standout new additions, like Mae Martin, Margaret Cho and Sharon Stone in roles far too delicious to give away now. Enjoy the flight.

The Flight Attendant Season 2 debuts on NowTV on 26 May.

2/ Conversations with Friends

Photo credit:  Enda Bowe
Photo credit: Enda Bowe

If our 2020 lockdown viewing had one defining moment, it was Normal People, the artful, sweaty, teary adaptation of Sally Rooney’s cult novel that made blockbuster stars of its then unknown leads, Daisy Edgar Jones and Paul Mescal. It was little surprise then, to learn that the same creative team would be bringing us a TV version of Conversations with Friends, Rooney’ much-acclaimed debut novel. Normal People’s director, Lenny Abrahamson, once again brings us a thoughtful, slow-burning narrative of thoughtful, slow-talking paramours. In the spotlight this time are Joe Alwyn (The Favourite), Sasha Lane (American Honey), Jemima Kirke (Girls) and newcomer Alison Oliver. The plot follows the interconnected lives of four people – married couple Nick and Melissa (played brilliantly by Alwyn and Kirke) and best friends, and former lovers, Bobbi and Frances (Lane and Oliver). What follows is betrayal, miscommunication and heartbreak, shot with stunning efficacy and acted with aplomb. It may lack the emotional punch of its BBC Three predecessor, but it charms and moves in a different and not entirely less affecting way. One thing is for sure – it will ensure a glittering career for a thoroughly deserving Alison Oliver.

Conversations with Friends debuts on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer on 15 May.

3/ The Staircase

Photo credit: courtesy
Photo credit: courtesy

True crime is never really not ‘having a moment’ thanks to endless podcasts, documentaries and limited series. Everyone, it seems, loves a real-life murder case and The Staircase, which dramatises Kathleen Peterson’s fatal fall down the stairs in 2001 – later viewed as a murder, enacted by her husband, Michael Peterson – has had multiple treatments. It has been a podcast and even parodied for a sitcom, as well as an acclaimed French docu-series, also called The Staircase, which had extraordinary access to Michael Peterson as his trial went on. Suffice to say, the story has an inbuilt fan base desperate to see this captivating narrative brought to life. The eight-part series, directly based on the French documentary, matches its premise with a stellar cast featuring Colin Firth and Toni Collette as Michael and Kathleen, and Sophie Turner as their adoptive daughter. Brilliantly acted and utterly absorbing, this is a haunting example of how truth is often far stranger than fiction.

The Staircase debuts on NowTV on 5 May.

4/ Stranger Things

Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix
Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Back in 2016, the Duffer Brothers released an eerie, enthralling paean to the eighties sci-fi movie. It was ET meets The Goonies, with a missing boy, a strange girl with superpowers and a group of friends on BMX bikes. Stranger Things became a phenomenon; a cult watch which made Hollywood stars of its ferociously talented young cast, and revived the career of an adored queen of the eighties herself – Winona Ryder. Now, an extra special penultimate season of the show arrives, which will be split into two parts – the first debuting this month and the second in July of this year. It follows our plucky protagonists as they wrestle with the aftermath of season three’s climax; and sees the characters separated for the first time, determined to solve a creepy mystery that may just finally end the reign of the eternally terrifying Upside Down.

Stranger Things Season 4, Part I debuts on Netflix on 27 May

5/ The Time Traveller's Wife

Photo credit: HBO
Photo credit: HBO

Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 bestseller is finally getting the TV treatment. The much-loved novel tells the love story of Henry and Clare, a married couple ripped apart by Henry’s genetic disorder; time travel. Following a 2009 film adaptation, starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, the narrative will now be fleshed out over a six-part limited series. Taking the roles of Clare and Henry are British actors Rose Leslie, best known for her star turns in The Good Fight and Game of Thrones, and Theo James, previously the driving force of the Divergent franchise. The story is just at heartbreakingly effective as ever, with stunning turns from its leads. Those who have never read the book are about to fall in love with Clare and Henry and diehard fans will, fittingly, be going back in time again.

The Time Traveller’s Wife debuts on NowTV on 16 May.

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