reality TV reviews and news

The next two weeks in reality TV: Apu, Trixie & Katya, The Profit, and more

Trixie and Katya are taking their show to television. (Photo by Viceland)

Good Monday morning! Today’s look at upcoming reality shows and other unscripted entertainment highlights shows and documentaries debuting both this week and Thanksgiving week.

Speaking of highlights: If you don’t yet receive my weekly newsletter, Reality in Focus, subscribe now. It’s free, and besides a note from me, it highlights stories from the past week.

So let’s look ahead to this week. Three intriguing documentaries—including one about a character from The Simpsons—and six specials are listed below.

But let’s start with these eight new and returning reality shows:

  1. RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova adapt their web series, UNHhhh, for television, and it becomes The Trixie & Katya Show (Viceland, Wednesdays at 10). On the show, which Viceland describes as “a hilarious hybrid of late night, daytime, and advice shows,” the two discuss topics, play games, answer questions, and talk to people on the street. Episode one is about hooking up.
  2. Marcus Lemonis is back to invest his own money in small businesses on The Profit (CNBC, Nov. 21, Tuesdays at 10).
  3. Mythbusters is back (Science, Nov. 15, Wednesdays at 9) with two new stars, Brian Louden and Jon Lung, who were selected at the end of a great competition series. On Wednesday, I’ll publish an interview with them—plus go behind the scenes on a future episode.
  4. Drew Scott needs to renovate his own house, and will do so on the spin-off series Property Brothers at Home: Drew’s Honeymoon House (HGTV, Nov. 22, Wednesdays at 9).
  5. Truman Capote’s nonfiction novel was about the 1959 murders of a family in Kansas, and now Joe Berlinger is exploring those murders in a new two-part series: Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders (SundanceTV, Nov. 18 and 19 at 9).
  6. Anthony Melchiorri’s Hotel Impossible is being burned off Monday mornings, but he has a new series coming: Extreme Hotels (Travel Channel, Nov. 19, Sundays at 10). On it, he doesn’t help people, but instead “explores unique and breathtaking accommodations.”
  7. I included this show in error last week, because its premiere was rescheduled: Homestead Rescue season three actually starts this week (Discovery, Nov. 15, Wednesdays at 9).
  8. An A&E series follows a new investigation that asks, Who Killed Tupac? (A&E, Nov. 21, Tuesdays at 9).

What’s so wrong with Apu on The Simpsons?

The character Apu on the Simpsons, who runs the Kwik-E-Mart convenience store and has an affable catchphrase of “thank you, come again,” was the only character of South Asian descent on TV when the show began in the late 1980s.

Apu is also a stereotype that has negatively impacted people of South Asian descent, from kids to actors.

That’s explored in The Problem with Apu, a documentary by comedian Hari Kondabolu, which airs on truTV Sunday, Nov. 19, at 10 p.m. ET.

Watch clips from the documentary for a few examples of why Apu is a problem, and how this cartoon character affected real people:


The effects of leaving orbit for Earth

Beyond a Year in Space (PBS, Wednesday, Nov. 15, from 8 to 10 p.m.). PBS re-airs A Year in Space and follows it with the premiere of part two, which looks at Scott Kelly’s return to Earth after one year in orbit around the Earth on the International Space Station.

Part two, premiering this week, also “introduces two new astronauts preparing to venture farther than humankind has ever gone: biologist Jessica Meir and former Navy pilot Victor Glover,” according to PBS.


Behind the scenes in Baltimore

Baltimore Rising (HBO, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m.) goes behind the scenes with “activists, police officers, community leaders and gang affiliates, who struggle to hold Baltimore together” following Freddie Gray’s death in 2015.

It’s directed by The Wire star Sonja Sohn, who had incredible access, embedding cameras with each of those groups to learn what was happening from the inside.


Six more reality specials and documentaries

  1. Cooking oil is the subject of Hot Grease (Discovery, Thursday, Nov. 16, at 9), a documentary about biodiesel fuel that’s made from the contents of deep fryers. It’s also about people who oppose biodiesel, even though it produces far fewer emissions and is made from an otherwise garbage material.
  2. The Legend of…with Chris Jericho (Travel Channel, Nov. 17 at 11) is a half-hour special starring the WWE world champion who looks at “history’s unexplained legends.” In this special (a possible pilot for a series?) Travel Channel says he “investigates the legend of Butch Cassidy.”
  3. A collage artist is the subject of The Secret Life of Lance Letscher (Ovation, Nov. 18 at 7), which the network calls “a deeply personal and psychological portrait of internationally-renowned collage artist Lance Letscher, told through biographical memories of trauma and triumph.”
  4. The special The Lost Tapes: Patty Hearst (Smithsonian, Nov. 26 at 9) is about kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst and includes “never-before-broadcast audio of her first recorded interview since being released from jail.”
  5. Tiger on the Run (Smithsonian, Nov. 15 at 8) “is the story of Kumal, a young Indian tiger and his remarkable journey to adulthood in the wilds of central India,” according to Smithsonian.
  6. Teensy-tiny animals are the subject of Nature’s Miniature Miracles (PBS, Nov. 22 at 8), whose subjects include hummingbirds, shrews, baby sharks, and more.