May is packed. Packed. There’s no reason May of 2017 can’t be your best month.
The question about Into the Water isn’t, “Will it sell a whole lot of copies?” The question is, “Will it sell a whole lot of copies or an astronomical number of copies?” The novel is a psychological thriller about mysterious death in a small town, but more importantly, it’s Paula Hawkins’ follow up to a little debut novel called The Girl on the Train. Early reviews aren’t great, but lots of pretentious book people didn’t love The Girl on the Train either, so Hawkins may well have the last laugh. And also all of the money. -Trisha Brown
Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s got a new book called Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, which offers an accessible look at some of the biggest questions and theories in the universe offered up in that classic NDGT style. Great graduation present for your nice but nerdy cousin or whatever! -Matt Byrne
These days everyone seems to score a book deal. But Gabourey Sidibe, best known for her Oscar-nominated turn in Precious, is not your typical Hollywood starlet. She has a life you actually want to hear about and a story-telling style that makes you want to hear about it directly from her. Sidibe is hitting the Sixth & I Synagogue to talk about her life and new memoir with Linda Holmes of NPR. Holmes is savvy but not snobby about entertainment, and it’s hard to imagine this conversation not being a helluva a lot of fun. -Trisha Brown
Jason Molina died in 2013, leaving behind an incredible discography and droves of heartbroken fans, myself included, devastated by his early passing. Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost is an intimate biography of the incredibly talented songwriter, whose masterful and sensitive blend of Americana and indie rock work with Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Company is the stuff of massive cult adulation. -Matt Byrne
A new David Sedaris book is always good news, so you’d imagine my delight when they announced Theft by Finding: Diaries. This is one of those rare books that are worth picking up both a hard copy and a download of the audiobook, as our sweetie David is one of the best in the spoken word game! -Matt Byrne
Obit in theaters May 12
If you listened to the April 27 episode of Fresh Air you’re most likely interested in seeing Obit. The documentary about the New York Times obituary journalists has all of the makings of a captivating film. The subject matter is universal but the job is mysterious. The industry is shrinking but people keep dying. The film that played in seemingly every decent festival goes into wide release after a New York limited run May 12.
Baywatch in theaters May 25
For those who don’t remember the good old days before every television outlet was full of antiheroes and prestige television, let me tell you the tale of Baywatch. The 90s syndicated lifeguard soap that has been fodder for ridicule basically since it premiered, but you can’t parody something so easily unless it’s well known, and Baywatch, which ran for over a decade, was wildly successful. It was also very comfortable with its own identify. The big-screen remake is the sort of thing I’d probably just wonder about from afar if not for one factor: Dwayne Johnson. Johnson is the perfect choice to make an earnest satire in the style of the 2012’s 21 Jump Street adaptation. -Trisha Brown
At The Drive-In Inter Alia available May 5
At The Drive-In are back with their first album in 17 years, which is really something. What is also something is that the record does not feature original guitarist/occasional vocalist Jim Ward, who was often a steady foil to the spastic, often self-indulgent impulses of the two main dudes from the band. Will Inter Alia be good or a disappointment? Probably the later unfortunately but a boy can hope!!!!!! -Matt Byrne
Girlpool Powerplant available May 12
The delicate sonic world created on Girlpool’s first LP, Before The World Was Big, is getting upsized and fleshed out for their new album, Powerplant. Is this an okay thing? Advance singles have been very good, albeit different, and I have faith that this charmingly idiosyncratic songwriting duo will deliver again. -Matt Byrne
Tei Shi has consistently crafted emotionally charged, gorgeous art pop anthems over the last few years, somehow flying under the mainstream radar despite being an electric performer with a versatile voice.
After a four-year gap between releases, she’s back with her first full-length album, Crawl Space, and she’s steering fully into what has drew fans to her work in the first place: crystalline keys, compressed and froggy bass lines, and her soaring, silky vocals. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez
I first saw Iron Chic about two years ago, when they played a small DIY space called The Dougout. They look like losers: unkempt, disheveled, and morose. I knew they had a big following, so I thought, “This is it? Really?” Then they started playing, and I got it: somehow they transformed into punk gods, commanding the audience and stage like charismatic, seasoned pros. Expect fists in the air – and genuine emotional catharsis – when they play Saint Vitus in a couple weeks. -Alan Zilberman
French Open begins May 22
I’m not a warm weather person, so there is hardly anything I’m genuinely looking forward to this month WITH THE EXCEPTION of the French Open. I’ve talked many, many times about how I am semi-inexplicably a huge fan of tennis; it’s not a sport I actually play, but there is something very relaxing about the orderliness of it all that keeps me glued to any/all major tournaments. What’s so special about Roland Garros? It’s the only one of the four Grand Slams to be played on clay tennis courts, and in addition to being very aesthetically pleasing (IMO), it’s interesting to see how the players are able to deal with the surface. Also, this is the first major appearance Maria Sharapova will have made following the doping dramz which caused her to be suspended from competing, and apparently she’s a lot of people’s favorite to win? I wholeheartedly disagree and fail to see the logic in even remotely buying into that, slash put my money on literally anyone else from the women’s side. Meanwhile, I’d be very into seeing Kyrgios get his shit together and win it on the men’s end, but WHO KNOWS?! Anyway, qualifying rounds begin May 22 and you better believe I’ll be tuning in WITH OR WITHOUT YOU! -Megan Burns
Maria Bamford: Old Baby available May 2
Maria Bamford is one of the best standup comics ever and any new special from her is a precious gift. Netflix has a new one from her coming out this month, entitled Old Baby and you better thank your stars that you get to live on the same planet of this woman. -Matt Byrne
Chris Gethard: Career Suicide airs May 6
Career Suicide, Chris Gethard’s incredibly well-reviewed one-man show about his struggles with depression, will finally be available for those not able to catch it during it its massive run in NYC or at the Ediburgh Fringe Festival. That is, available to anyone with an HBOGo password. -Matt Byrne
The Wizard of Lies airs May 20
The Wizard of Lies is a new direct-to-HBO movie adapted from the book of the same name starring Robert De Niro as Bernie Madoff, directed by Barry Levinson. Who knows how this thing will be but it’s a rare opportunity to catch De Niro in a serious role these days, and that’s gotta be good for something, you know?
Beat Shazam premieres May 25
Beat Shazam is a game show based on an app that is really just Name That Tune hosted by Jamie Foxx. I dunno, man. -Matt Byrne
Fear Factor returns May 30
Ludacris is hosting a reboot of Fear Factor which is great because Ludacris is cooler than Joe Rogan in every way imaginable. It’s also moving away from the grossout challenges of the original series towards more cerebral, emotionally driven fears; think less goat testicles, more surprise destruction of contestants’ cell phones. -Matt Byrne
House of Cards season five debuts May 30
I never understood the concept of “hate-watching” until I saw House of Cards. It’s somehow hammy and vicious at the same time. Its piss-poor depiction of Washington politics, which is well-documented, pales in comparison to its crimes against storytelling. It is self-congratulatory, smug and, perhaps worst of all, not nearly as smart as it thinks it is.
And yet. And yet I can’t stop watching. What’s more, when season five debuts on Netflix on May 30, I’ll probably crush the whole thing in two or three days. What keeps me coming back? A big part of it is Kevin Spacey’s performance as our eeeeevil commander in chief, as chewy and tangy as South Carolina BBQ. And I love the show’s whole chilly freezing aesthetic, which takes its cues from Robin Wright’s ice queen first lady. The Underwood White House looks so cold it might suddenly start snowing on the inside.
But really, I just have to see what happens. Shame, shame, shame on HoC for structuring its entire last season on a presidential campaign without showing us Election Day. If they have the nerve to end season five without giving the electoral results, I’m definitely quitting this show. Probably. Maybe. -Tristan Lejeune