• The Literary Film & TV You Need to Stream in May

    Because Somehow It’s Still Raining

    Every month, all the major streaming services add a host of newly acquired (or just plain new) shows, movies, and documentaries into their ever-rotating libraries. So what’s a dedicated reader to watch? Well, whatever you want, of course, but the name of this website is Literary Hub, so we sort of have an angle. To that end, here’s a selection of the best (and most enjoyably bad) literary film and TV coming to streaming services this month. Have fun.


    A Man in Full
    Netflix, May 2

    Literary bona fides: based on A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe (1998)

    Jeff Daniels stars as Charlie Croker, a megalomaniacal real estate mogul on the downswing, in this adaptation of Wolfe’s bestselling novel (also a National Book Award finalist) about race, masculinity, money, schadenfreude, and broadly (this is Wolfe, after all), the horrible comic insanity of American life. The mini-series, created and written by David E. Kelley ( Doogie Howser, M.D., Ally McBeal, Big Little Lies, being Michelle Pfeiffer’s husband) Diane Lane, William Jackson Harper, and Lucy Liu round out the cast, and Regina King and Thomas Schlamme direct.

    The Tattooist of Auschwitz
    Peacock, May 2

    Literary bona fides: based on The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (2018)

    Morris’s bestselling Holocaust novel is based on the true story of Lali Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew who was imprisoned at Auschwitz in 1942, and forced to tattoo identification numbers onto his fellow prisoners—including a woman with whom he would fall in love. The book is based on several interviews with Sokolov—though it stirred up some controversy over its historical inaccuracies. Harvey Keitel stars as the older Sokolov in Peacock’s original series, who tells Morris (Melanie Lynskey) his story.

    The Idea of You
    Prime Video, May 2

    Literary bona fides: based on The Idea of You by Robinne Lee (2017)

    The movie that takes the moms of the world by their lapels and tells them… Harry Styles (or the equivalent, played by Nicholas Galitzine) is not out of your reach, ladies! (If you’re also Anne Hathaway.)

    Dark Matter
    Apple TV+, May 8

    Literary bona fides: based on Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (2016)

    Curiously, the trailer for the adaptation of Crouch’s bestselling SF novel—starring Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Connelly, Alice Braga, and Jimmi Simpson—seems to spoil a lot of the book’s twists ahead of time. Only time will tell what that means for the overall series, which was adapted by Crouch himself.

    Bridgerton (Season 3)
    Netflix, May 16

    Literary bona fides: based on Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (2002)

    Look down on Bridgerton all you like, but just wait until you get sick and need something frothy and absurd and bedazzled and slightly smuttier than necessary to entertain you. It’s the best thing going for the bedridden (and other helpless romantics).

    The Big Cigar
    Apple TV+, May 17

    Literary bona fides: based on “The Big Cigar” by Joshuah Bearman (2012)

    You read Playboy for the articles, right? Then we’ll call The Big Cigar, based on Joshuah Bearman’s Playboy deep dive on the time a Hollywood producer (Bert Schneider) smuggled the leader of the Black Panthers (Huey P. Newton, played by André Holland) into Cuba in 1974. (If this sounds familiar, recall that Bearman also wrote the article that inspired the movie Argo.)


    3:10 To Yuma (1957)
    Prime Video, May 1

    Literary bona fides: based on “Three-Ten to Yuma” by Elmore Leonard (1953)

    The cult classic adaptation Elmore Leonard’s iconic short story actually created contemporary slang in Cuba, which is more than any of the other movies on this list can say.

    Die Hard (1988)
    Hulu, May 3

    Literary bona fides: based on Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp (1979)

    Yes, you knew it was a Christmas movie, but did you know it was a literary movie? It’s true, friends. So go ahead and indulge—and if you really want to treat yourself, I regret to inform you that all five Die Hard movies will be available on Hulu on this date. Yippie ki-yay.

    Malcolm X (1992)
    Prime Video, May 1

    Literary bona fides: based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley

    Spike Lee’s Malcom X is an unshakeable classic of biographical film, and Denzel Washington (shocking no one) goes above and beyond in the title role, along with Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman Jr., and Delroy Lindo.

    10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
    Peacock, May 1

    Literary bona fides: based on The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare (1594)

    The best 90s Shakespeare adaptation.

    Cold Mountain (2003)
    Prime Video, May 1

    Literary bona fides: based on Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (1997)

    Renée Zellweger won an Oscar for her performance in this adaptation of Frazier’s National Book Award-winning novel, the story of a wounded Confederate soldier who has deserted and set off on foot to journey back to his beloved, but in fact any of the actors involved might have done the same: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Eileen Atkins, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Natalie Portman all conspire to make this a masterpiece.

    Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
    Disney+, May 3

    Literary bona fides: based on Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl (1970)

    Good fun for kids and adults, and (in certain circles anyway) the only Wes Anderson movie everyone can agree on.

    Patrick Melrose (2018)
    Netflix, May 29

    Literary bona fides: based on the Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St Aubyn (1992-2012)

    “This stunning adaptation of Edward St. Aubyn’s semi-autobiographical Patrick Melrose novels is the reason why miniseries should exist,” wrote Molly Odintz in our list of the best literary tv adaptations of the decade. Particularly because Benedict Cumberbatch is so brutal and brilliant in his portrayal of Patrick, unafraid to let things become ugly, as they almost immediately do. Certainly worth watching for those who missed it on Showtime.

    EMMA. (2020)
    Prime Video, May 1

    Literary bona fides: based on Emma by Jane Austen (1815)

    A worthwhile Emma adaptation with a little Cher Horowitz flair. (Not to mention Bill Nighy.)

    American Fiction (2023)
    Prime Video, May 14

    Literary bona fides: based on Erasure by Percival Everett (2001)

    For those who missed it in theaters, American Fiction makes its streaming debut this month, and is worth your time and then some. Our critic Olivia Rutigliano called it “kaleidoscopic in its insights and interrogations about life and identity, especially when these things get further complicated by the beasts capitalism, commercialism, and media”—read the full review here.

    Emily Temple
    Emily Temple
    Emily Temple is the managing editor at Lit Hub. Her first novel, The Lightness, was published by William Morrow/HarperCollins in June 2020. You can buy it here.

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