It’s a Presidents’ Day edition of this week in reality TV, which includes the debut of six new shows on two nights, and a compelling special that explores and illustrates a problem our society is grappling with.
This week’s six new shows
- The Pop Game (Lifetime, Feb. 21, Tuesdays at 10) is Lifetime’s a spinoff of The Rap Game. It follows five singers who work with Timbaland, who Lifetime says “will assist the kids and their manager parents in challenges designed to teach and test the skills they will need to grace some of the world’s biggest stages.”One of them will win a record contract with Timbaland’s Mosely Music Group.
- Needles and Pins (Viceand, Feb. 21, Tuesdays at 10) is all about tattooing, using the Viceland formula of having a show’s star—Grace Neutral, a British tattoo artist—travel the world and interview people “who made this niche hobby a global industry,” as she says in this preview.
- Stranded with a Million Dollars (MTV, Feb. 21, Tuesdays at 10). Thanks to the success of Naked and Afraid, lots of networks are trying their own survival shows, but MTV’s version adds an interesting twist: a prize that can be spent on supplies. Oh, and it’s entirely filmed with drones. I’ll have a full review tomorrow.
- Ultimate Beastmaster (Netflix, Feb. 24). Is this American Ninja Warrior, just with a much more awesome-looking obstacle course and a super-sized cast (108 contestants, six sets of hosts)? We’ll know on Friday.
- Mama June: From Not to Hot (WE tv, Feb. 24, Fridays at 10). TLC cancelled Here Comes Honey Boo Boo after it was revealed that June Shannon was in a relationship with a registered sex offender who’d molested her daughter. Enter WE tv, a network that has less of a moral center than TLC, and production company Thinkfactory Media, which are giving June and her family a new show. This new show is allegedly June’s “journey through a life-changing transformation, a physical and emotional metamorphosis that will leave one of America’s most recognizable personalities virtually unrecognizable.” Yes, with this show, WE tv is not only rewarding June, it’s giving her “extensive plastic surgeries.” And as icing on this shitty cake, every scene in this nauseating trailer looks overproduced/coached/scripted to the end of its life.
- Uncensored With Michael Ware (National Geographic, Feb. 24, Fridays at 10). On this eight-episode series, war correspondent Michael Ware “investigates some of the most fascinating people, places and cultures on the planet,” according to the network. There’s quite a range in the first season, as episodes will focus on things as disparate as New York Fashion Week, the MeK (the Iranian group that has been called both a cult and a terrorist organization), and paparazzi in Los Angeles.
‘The talk’ that parents have with their kids
The Talk: Race in America has six segments, each directed by a different filmmaker, and they tell “six personal stories to illustrate the issue from multiple points of view: parent, child, the police and the community.”
That issue: is the conversation many black and Latino parents have with their kids about what to do if they’re stopped by police.
As retired NYPD police officer Trevena Garel says, “I’m hopeful that The Talk will open the eyes of some of my brother and sister officers to stop with the us against them, and realize this problem affects my children—and could actually affect their children.
Also this week
- American Ninja Warrior: All Stars (NBC, Monday at 8 p.m.) is a special edition of the summer hit, co-hosted by new Celebrity Apprentice winner Matt Iseman, on which fan-favorite contestants return to tackle a new course.
- Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise (PBS, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m.). I’ll have a full preview of this great documentary plus an interview with its directors tomorrow.
- Why Trains Crash (PBS, Feb. 22 at 9 p.m.) is NOVA’s look at “recent rail tragedies and advances in train tech that could help prevent them.”
- Speaking of trainwrecks, Chrisley Knows Best returns (USA, Tuesdays at 10) for its fifth season.
- The Curse of Oak Island (History, Tuesday at 9) concludes its fourth season with a two-hour finale that hopefully resolves its latest cliffhanger. I’ll have an interview with Rick and Marty tomorrow.
- The Oscars (ABC, Feb. 26 at 8:30 p.m.) may recognize a television show as best documentary feature.