The unofficial start to summer is upon us in one week, when Memorial Day arrives, and already summer reality TV shows are on their way.
There are 100+ reality shows debuting this summer, and some big network shows get their start this week. In this preview of the week ahead, a look at those, plus one-off documentaries and specials.
Here come the network shows (and finales)
- Monday night is the beginning of the finale of Dancing with the Stars (ABC, 8 to 9 p.m.), which concludes Tuesday from 8:30 to 11 p.m., but it’s mostly the premiere of The Bachelorette (ABC, 9 to 11 p.m.), which is historic because of its star, Rachel Lindsay. And if you’d like to know what happens in advance, the show has already been spoiled (no spoilers in that article, just a link).
- Survivor Game Changers ends with its traditional three-hour finale (CBS, Wednesday, May 24, from 8 to 11), which includes a one-hour reunion and preview of next season.
- Fox tries to turn an app into a game show on Thursday’s premiere of Beat Shazam (Fox, May 25, Thursdays at 9), which is exactly what it sounds like: contestants attempting to ID songs, including trying to beat the smartphone app Shazam.
- Fox launches its own nostalgic game show revival on Thursday: Love Connection (Fox, May 25, Thursdays at 8) is hosted by Andy Cohen—yes, Bravo’s very own Real Housewives reunion emcee and former network executive—talks to people who’ve just gone on a date to find out how it went.
- Speaking of dates, First Dates, which has been the big surprise of the spring for me, airs its first-season finale (NBC, May 26 at 8).
Two special Red Nose Day reality shows
All three hours of NBC’s prime-time programming on Thursday will be dedicated to NBC Universal’s third annual Red Nose Day, which tries to harness “the power of entertainment to raise money and awareness for kids most in need in the U.S. and in some of the poorest communities in the world,” according to NBC.
Its first two years raised $60+ million.
This year’s event will be capped by a live special from New York City (NBC, Thursday, May 25, at 10), but that’s preceded by two special episodes of NBC reality shows:
- Celebrities attempt the American Ninja Warrior course on Celebrity Ninja Warrior for Red Nose Day (NBC, 8 p.m.).
- That’s followed by Running Wild with Bear Grylls for Red Nose Day (NBC, 9 p.m.), which features Julia Roberts in Kenya with Bear Grylls leading her through a series of survival challenges—but this time, they have a destination and a reason: delivering vaccines to a village. NBC says she: “will spotlight the challenges faced by many children internationally as she travels to Nairobi, Kenya to visit an overcrowded hospital full of serious illnesses, most of which are entirely preventable with vaccines that cost as little as $5.”
Also this week
- Who is Steve Bannon? Frontline profiles one of Donald Trump’s closest advisers in Tuesday’s episode, “Bannon’s War” (PBS, Tuesday at 10). It includes “nearly 30 in-depth interviews with political insiders, Bannon’s former associates at Breitbart News, authors and journalists, [and] the film tells the inside story of Bannon’s fight to deliver on Trump’s promises, with a confrontational style based on his personal crusade to dramatically transform America,” according to PBS.
- A three-part series, American Epic (PBS, Tuesdays at 9), looks at “how the ordinary people of America were given the opportunity to make records for the first time,” according to PBS.
- Three violent teenagers awaiting trial for their alleged crimes (murder and attempted murder) are the subject of They Call us Monsters (PBS, Monday, May 22, 10 to 11:30), Independent Lens’ look at juvenile sentencing.