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Hacks Helps HBO Max Rule May's Streaming Power Rankings

PLUS: Netflix continues to disappoint, though not as much as Peacock's decision to cancel Saved by the Bell.
  • Photos: HBO Max, Paramount+, Netflix, Peacock.
    Photos: HBO Max, Paramount+, Netflix, Peacock.

    At the end of each month, Primetimer's Joe Reid surveys the undulating fortunes of the eight major streaming platforms for our Streaming Power Rankings.

    The Kardashians helped lift Hulu to the top of April's streaming power rankings, but the month of May saw HBO Max back on top thanks to a series of last-minute Emmy-baiting premieres while Amazon made a leap of its own by greenlighting some big projects.

    A reminder: our rankings are calculated based on the following criteria: new shows (i.e. shows that premiered, or premiered new seasons), projects that were announced, and bonus points (and/or demerits) that take into account things like high-profile cancellations, awards attention, or significant good/bad buzz.

    On to this month's rankings:

    1. HBO MAX

    Previous Rank: 5

    Premieres: Two high-profile returns helped boost HBO Max this month, with The Flight Attendant back for a second season of criminal hijinks, plus the hugely acclaimed second season of the Emmy-winning Hacks. Meanwhile, the true-crime drama The Staircase was another strong addition to the streamer's stable. Grade: A

    Projects Announced: Viola Davis is set to star as her Suicide Squad character, Amanda Waller, in a Peacemaker spinoff. Also, the producers of The Way Down are working on another cult documentary, about a management company for social media stars. Grade: B+

    Bonus Points/Demerits: While they're not HBO Max originals, HBO's George Carlin: American Dream and The Time-Traveler's Wife brought, respectively, strong reviews and buzzy oral sex scenes to the table. Grade: B+

    2. Amazon Prime

    Previous Rank: 4

    Premieres: The Kids in the Hall reboot was accompanied by a wave of nostalgia for the influential Canadian sketch comedy series, while Sissy Spacek and J.K. Simmons were sensational in the new sci-fi drama Night Sky. Grade: A-

    Projects Announced: Maya Rudolph and Natasha Lyonne are teaming on a sci-fi animated comedy called The Hospital, and Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio and Succession star Jeremy Strong are teaming up for a limited series about the Boeing 737 crashes in 2019. Grade: A-

    Bonus Points/Demerits: Greg Daniels' well-reviewed afterlife comedy Upload was renewed for a third season. Grade: B

    3. Paramount+

    Previous Rank: 6

    Premieres: The Challenge: All-Stars 3 continues Paramount's streak with MTV legacy projects, while RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 7 got off to an amazingly hot start. But the big ticket item this month was the newest Star Trek series, titled, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which has been very well-received by fans and critics alike. Grade: A-

    Projects Announced: Paramount is definitely bringing the star power for their next series in the Yellowstone universe, casting Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren in the Great Depression-set 1932. Grade: B+

    Bonus Points/Demerits: Not a ton of miscellaneous news for P+ this month, but finally signing Tyler Hoechlin for the Teen Wolf movie certainly made that fanbase happy. Grade: B

    4. Disney+

    Previous Rank: 8

    Premieres: As has been the case for D+ lately, premieres this month have been few and far between, with May's big behemoth — Obi-Wan Kenobi — dropping at the very end of the month. Grade: B+

    Projects Announced: The legacy of the Netflix-produced Marvel shows continues to be a complicated one, as Disney+ has announced plans to revive the Daredevil series that was canceled in 2018. Plans aren't concrete as of yet, but after Charlie Cox reprised his role as Matt Murdock in Spider-Man: No Way Home and Vincent D'Onofrio showed up in Hawkeye as the Kingpin, we can probably expect those two to return. In other good news, Everything Everywhere All at Once stars Michelle Yeoh and Stephanie Hsu are set to reunite at Disney+ for the adaptation of the graphic novel American Born Chinese. Grade: A

    Bonus Points/Demerits: The debut of the She-Hulk trailer garnered a lot of attention… although the GCI on display didn't make the best first impression. Grade: B-

    5. Apple TV+

    Previous Rank: 2

    Premieres: The second season of Tehran added Glenn Close to the cast, while The Essex Serpent put a sizzling Tom Hiddleston and Claire Danes in a gothic period romance. Grade: B+

    Projects Announced: The 1991 Barbra Streisand-directed film The Prince of Tides is getting adapted into a TV series at Apple, written by The Help's Tate Taylor. Grade: B

    Bonus Points/Demerits: The Afterparty continues to fill out its cast for season two with the likes of Zach Woods, Elizabeth Perkins, John Cho, Ken Jeong, Paul Wanter Hauser, Anna Konkle, Poppy Liu, Jake Whitehall, and Vivian Wu. Grade: B+

    6. Hulu

    Previous Rank: 1

    Premieres: Two big premieres this month for Hulu, the first being Jessical Biel's revelatory performance in Candy, and, second, the Sally Rooney adaptation Conversations with Friends. Squeaking in under the wire this week were the debuts of the Danny Boyle-directed Sex Pistols miniseries Pistol (for FX on Hulu) and the Letterkenny spinoff Shoresy. Grade: B+

    Projects Announced: Kerry Washington and Delroy Lindo's comedy Unprisoned — about a single mother whose dad moves in with her and her teenage son after he's released from prison — seems very promising. Grade: B+

    Bonus Points/Demerits: The Hillary Clinton historical fiction Rodham will likely get made somewhere, with Claire Danes and Dakota Fanning attached, but it won't be at Hulu, after the streamer passed on the project. Time will tell if this was a good move or not. Grade: B-

    7. Netflix

    Previous Rank: 7

    Premieres: As usual for Netflix, May saw plenty of volume, with returns for reality series The Circle, Bling Empire, and David Letterman's My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, and the premiere of David E. Kelley's The Lincoln Lawyer. Each of these, of course, paled in comparison to the much anticipated fourth-season premiere of Stranger Things, which dropped late last week. Grade: B

    Projects Announced: Netflix's declining subscriber numbers (and the stock sell-off that followed) manifested in a perceived slowdown in their usual onslaught of ordered projects, but we still got a few. Dead to Me creator Liz Feldman is behind No Good Deed, a dark comedy about families competing to buy the same home, while Jeff Daniels will star in the upcoming David E. Kelley/Regina King production A Man in Full. Netflix also announced a new comedy roast series, The Greatest Roasts of All Time, which will kick off with a roast of Tom Brady. Grade: B

    Bonus Points/Demerits: The bad news cycles continued for Big Red this month, with Ricky Gervais being disgustingly transphobic in his new comedy special, and new details about Frank Langella's alleged sexual harrassment on the set of The Fall of the House of Usher. Much better news came in the form of Heartstopper being renewed for two more seasons and I Think You Should Leave renewed for at least one more. Plus, Black Mirror will finally be returning with a new season, and it was announced that the next season of Bridgerton will focus on Colin and Penelope's romance. Grade: B-

    8. Peacock

    Previous Rank: 3

    Premieres: Girls5Eva returned with a momentum-heavy second season that has seen the titular resurgent girl group in "album mode," and Peacock managed to capture the attention of pop-obsessed Americans with their airing of the Eurovision Song Contest. Reviews for Peacock's latest starry biopic Angelyne were mixed, with some loving it and others not so muchGrade: B+

    Projects Announced: Peacock picked up the American streaming rights to the British thriller Trigger Point, from the creator of the Netflix series Bodyguard. They've also ordered a "mind-bending" and "bizarre" secret new series from the director of Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm, Jason Woliner. Peacock is also moving forward on a TV series adaptation of the Gen X touchstone Reality Bites. Grade: B

    Bonus Points/Demerits: Edie Falco got cast as Pete Davidson's mom in his upcoming series Bupkis, but the dark cloud over this month's Peacock news was the cancellation of the critically acclaimed Saved by the Bell reboot, a creative triumph that Peacock failed to properly market. Grade: C

    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: HBO Max, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock, Prime Video