The release schedules for streamers like Netflix are out for the first month of the new year, giving us a good idea of the biggest releases worth watching on all of our favorite services — while, at the same time, I’m sure one or more of the big platforms will drop an unannounced surprise or two on us over the next few weeks. Until that happens, though, here’s what I’m looking forward to the most in January; specifically, these are the biggest upcoming streaming TV series and movies from all the major streamers that I think are worth knowing about and checking out over the next four weeks.
The Brothers Sun (Netflix, Jan. 4)
The Brothers Sun, an action-packed crime drama, stars Michelle Yeoh as the matriarch of a powerful Taiwanese triad family. Across the show’s eight episodes, the eldest son of that family heads to Los Angeles to protect his mother Eileen (Yeoh) and his naive younger brother after the head of the family is shot by a mysterious assassin. That younger brother, by the way, has been completely sheltered from the truth about his family, until now.
The series promises a transpacific gang war, deadly assassins, and bad guys jockeying for power — as well as a humorous look at the kinds of family dynamics that are universal.
Echo (Disney+, Jan. 9)
This next thriller set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, meanwhile, looks like quite a pulse-pounding and action-packed series — and, furthermore, has the benefit (in my opinion) of audiences not needing to have watched every single earlier Marvel project in order to fully appreciate it.
The five-episode Echo will tell the story of Maya Lopez as she tried to evade Wilson Fisk’s criminal underground. When the journey brings her home, she’s forced to confront her own family and legacy.
The Trust: A Game of Greed (Netflix, Jan. 10)
Reality TV fans, this one’s for you. This next entry on our list of the must-watch streaming series this month is a Netflix reality competition show that’s essentially a social experiment. Unlike other game shows, where contestants work incrementally toward the possibility of one of them winning a large cash prize at the end, the contestants in The Trust are offered the big payday right at the start. “What comes next, and how they choose to distribute the money amongst themselves, is where the game gets interesting — or better yet, downright dirty,” Netflix explains.
“Because in this social experiment, the players’ fates are in their own hands: No one has to win or lose.”
Ted (Peacock, Jan. 11)
Up next is Ted, a seven-episode comedy from Peacock that serves as a prequel to Seth MacFarlane’s Ted movies.
Ted, the show, finds Ted living back home in Framingham, Massachusetts, with his best friend — 16-year-old John Bennett (Max Burkholder), along with John’s parents, Matty and Susan (Scott Grimes and Alanna Ubach) and cousin Blaire (Giorgia Whigham). “Each generation develops its own unique artistic style, its own way of seeing the world,” executive producers MacFarlane, Paul Corrigan, and Brad Walsh said in a press note about the show.
“In the twenties, it was the subversive musical phrasings of jazz. In the fifties, it was the bold brushwork of the abstract expressionists. Our generation’s unique art is streaming content based on previously successful intellectual property. In that proud tradition, we humbly give you Ted.”
Self Reliance (Hulu, Jan. 12)
Hulu’s Self Reliance is a new comedy film starring Jake Johnson, who gets sucked into a deadly game of cat and mouse to try and win $1 million. The catch: He has to successfully elude those hunting him for 30 days. Johnson stars as Tommy, a middle-aged man who is invited into a limo by Andy Samberg. He ends up in the middle of a game on the dark web where he can win $1 million if he can survive a wave of assassins for one month.
Role Play (Prime Video, Jan. 12)
Boasting a star-studded cast that includes Kaley Cuoco, David Oyelowo, Connie Nielsen, and Bill Nighy, Prime Video’s Role Play is an action-romance in which Emma (Cuoco) lives with her husband and two kids in the New Jersey suburbs. The couple decides to have a bit of role-playing fun on the night of their anniversary in New York City, which unwittingly exposes Emma’s secret life as an international assassin-for-hire.
True Detective: Night Country (HBO, Jan. 14)
HBO ratings magnet True Detective is set to release its highly anticipated fourth season this month, with detectives played by Jodie Foster and Kali Reis attempting to solve the mystery of eight men who disappear in Alaska.
“When the long winter night falls in Ennis, Alaska, the eight men who operate the Tsalal Arctic Research Station vanish without a trace,” WarnerMedia explains about True Detective: Night Country, from showrunner Issa Lopez. “To solve the case, Detectives Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) and Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) will have to confront the darkness they carry in themselves, and dig into the haunted truths that lie buried under the eternal ice.”
The Kitchen (Netflix, Jan. 19)
This next TV series, from Netflix, is like a mashup of the streamer’s Top Boy with a Blade Runner vibe. Reads a Netflix longline: “London, 2040 — rising house prices, computerized labour and eradication of the welfare state has turned the city into a billionaire’s playground, pushing the lower classes to provincial empty slum-like high rises like The Kitchen.
“Ex-smash-and-grabber Izi is desperate to go straight but when his young son contracts a devastating illness, he is forced to take part in a heist that will change the lives of everyone in The Kitchen forever.”
Griselda (Netflix, Jan. 25)
Griselda is another upcoming TV series from Netflix, starring Sofia Vergara like you’ve never seen her before.
In this gritty cartel drama, the bubbly Modern Family and America’s Got Talent star looks completely unrecognizable as real-life cocaine queenpin Griselda Blanco. In the series, Vergara’s “La Jefa” rises from obscurity in Colombia via a deadly blend of charm and ruthlessness all the way to the top of one of the most profitable cartels in history.
Sexy Beast (Paramount+, Jan. 25)
Paramount+’s series Sexy Beast is a prequel to the 2000 British gangster movie of the same name, directed by Jonathan Glazer. Per the streamer: “Produced by AC Chapter One and Anonymous Content, in association with Paramount Television International Studios, the prequel series explores the origins of Gal (McArdle) and Don’s (Elliott) complicated relationship as they find themselves descending into the seductive madness of the London criminal world during the vibrant and volatile 1990s, while Gal’s budding relationship with Deedee (Greene) threatens everything in their world.”
Masters of the Air (Apple TV+, Jan. 26)
Based on Donald L. Miller’s book of the same name, Apple’s Masters of the Air is a World War II drama series that comes from the minds of Spielberg and Tom Hanks — the same duo that also brought Band of Brothers and The Pacific to the world (albeit on HBO). It’s also scripted by John Orloff, who wrote Band of Brothers. The series follows the men of the 100th Bomb Group (the “Bloody Hundredth”) as they conduct bombing raids over Nazi Germany and “grapple with the frigid conditions, lack of oxygen and sheer terror of combat conducted at 25,000 feet in the air.”
Expats (Prime Video, Jan. 26)
The final TV series (for now) worth checking out this month is Prime Video’s Expats, starring Nicole Kidman. Expats will follow the story of “a multifaceted group of women after a single encounter sets off a chain of life-altering events that leaves everyone navigating the intricate balance between blame and accountability.” It’s set against the vibrant backdrop of 2014 Hong Kong and focuses on three American women — Margaret (Nicole Kidman), Hilary (Sarayu Blue), and Mercy (Ji-young Yoo) — whose lives intersect after a family tragedy.