Good morning! It’s Monday and that means a new week of reality TV premieres and televised documentaries. And on Sunday, it means the start of dueling stunt programming about sharks.
Read on to find out what’s ahead this week—and please don’t hesitate to suggest a show, special, documentary, podcast, or anything else that I should mention in this weekly round-up. Just e-mail me!
The Challenge turns 30 and gets Dirty
For its 30th season, MTV’s The Challenge has adopted the reviled social media nickname of the Survivor Worlds Apart cast: Dirty 30.
That’s a reference to “the shadiest, most unpredictable, cunning players we could find,” as TJ Lavin says in this rather impressive trailer—at least, it’s impressive until it devolves into the usual drunk fighting, which lost me immediately.
The prize this season is $1 million, which will be shared in some way, but is still the most amount of money the show has ever awarded.
On the occasion of the 30th season of The Challenge (it now has more than twice as many seasons as Road Rules’ 14, and is just two shy of Real World), Real World creator Jon Murray said this in a press release:
“We owe a major ‘thank you’ to the fans of ‘The Challenge’ and all its iterations throughout the years. Their dedication to the show and desire to watch their favorite—or least favorite!—reality stars battle it out in physical and mental challenges has enabled the show to come back season after season, and the 30th season will undoubtedly defy expectations.”
This week’s episodes and premieres of note
- Teen Mom 2 (MTV, July 17, Mondays at 9) adds 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom 3 cast member Briana to the group. Also, she’s pregnant.
- Travis Wall choreographs a dance for the Face Off: Divide and Conquer contestants’ four season-inspired makeups. (Syfy, Tuesday, July 18, at 9)
- Flip or Flop spins off a new series set in Atlanta (HGTV, July 20, Thursdays at 9) that follows Ken and Anita Corsini, who create southern homes out of trash heaps.
- A new season of Netflix’s first sports reality series, Last Chance U, drops Friday.
- Presenting Princess Shaw follows a woman who uploads video of her singing to YouTube and, unbeknownst to her, as POV says, “inspired internationally famous musician, composer and video artist Ophir ‘Kutiman’ Kutiel to create a magical collaboration that would introduce her talent to a whole new audience” (PBS, Monday, July 17, check local listings).
- The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week kicks off on Sunday, which is coincidentally the exact same day that National Geographic WILD’s SharkFest kicks off. What are the odds?
Go inside Wikileaks with Julian Assange
“Sometimes I can’t believe what Julian allows me to film,” Laura Poitras says in the narration for her documentary Risk, which has incredible access to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
The film covers everything from Wikileaks’ early revelations to the sexual assault allegations against Assange, and has even been updated in the year since it first came out to address Wikileaks’ role in the U.S. presidential election.
Showtime airs it Saturday (July 22, 9 p.m.). Critics say it is neither a flattering portrait nor an entirely critical one. In his review, A.O. Scott wrote that “the picture that emerges is complicated, unsettling and intriguingly ambivalent.”