reality TV reviews and news

Happy New Year! Here are 41 reality shows debuting this week

Sarah Himmelstein competing on Ellen DeGeneres' new NBC show Ellen's Game of Games (Photo by Mike Rozman/NBC)

Happy New Year! It’s Jan. 1, and though it doesn’t seem like a Monday—I will probably not know what day it is all week—it’s the start of a new year, a new week, and many, many reality TV shows.

I count 41: Yes, almost two days worth of reality, unscripted, and documentary series debut episodes in just one week.

The final weeks of December are among my favorite not just because of the holidays, but because television, and the television industry, take their only annual break. I love that respite from new episodes or shows. It allows me to do other things, like organize cabinets while I watch marathons of old favorites (The Twilight Zone, The Golden Girls).

I wouldn’t mind this hiatus lasting a few more weeks. But like 2017, it’s over. There’s a lot on the way this week, beginning with The Bachelor tonight. (If you need a refresher on Bachelor tropes, I was recently introduced to this parody, The Fratchelor, created by students at the University of Delaware, and it’s worth a watch.)

Because there are so many shows, I’ve simply copied and pasted the list from my quarterly reality show debut calendar.

As if all of this isn’t enough, the PBS series POV—which airs story-driven documentaries dedicated to “putting a human face on contemporary social issues”—will start a 30-day, 30-film marathon online tomorrow in celebration of its 30th anniversary.

That’s 30 documentaries, free to watch. Just go to

Whatever you watch this week and this year, I hope it’s enjoyable. Let’s go, 2018!

The first week of reality TV debuts for 2018

  1. The Wall (NBC, Jan. 1, Mondays at 8). Chris Hardwick a game in which pairs of people “have to work together to build a huge cash prize.”
  2. The Bachelor 22 (ABC, Jan. 1, Mondays at 8). Arie Luyendyk Jr. returns to the franchise that is better at perpetuating toxic stereotypes than it is in helping its cast members find love. 
  3. Better Late Than Never (NBC, Jan. 1, Mondays at 9). “Henry Winkler, William Shatner, George Foreman, Terry Bradshaw and comedian Jeff Dye … set off on a wildly entertaining journey to Munich, Berlin, Lithuania, Sweden, Barcelona, Madrid and Morocco.”
  4. Kids Baking Championship (Food Network, Jan. 1, Mondays at 9). Kids 10 to 13 “compete in decadent dessert challenges designed to find the most impressive and creative kid baker in the country.”
  5. 60 Days In (A&E, Jan. 1 at 9, then Thursdays at 10). People pretend to be inmates at Atlanta’s Fulton County Jail.
  6. Ridiculous Cakes (Food Network, Jan. 1, Mondays at 10). “Alton Brown narrates 12 half-hour episodes, introducing viewers to some of the most talented cake artists from across the country”
  7. NFL Football Fanatic (USA Network, Jan. 1, Mondays at 11). Darren McMullen “embarks on a journey across America to delve deep into the culture of the NFL and find a team to call his own”
  8. Ellen’s Game of Games (NBC, Jan. 2, Tuesdays at 8). Ellen hosts “supersized versions of the most popular and action-packed games from her award-winning daytime talk show”
  9. Married at First Sight (Lifetime, Jan. 2, Tuesdays at 9). In the sixth season of the franchise, “Boston area singles yearning for a life-long partnership” are “legally married to a stranger the moment they first meet.”
  10. Intervention (A&E, Jan. 2, Tuesdays at 9). Set entirely in suburban Atlanta’s “Heroin Triangle,” “this season will follow interconnected stories of addicts and their families suffering at the hands of the national opioid crisis”
  11. Chopped Gold Medal Games (Food Network, Jan. 2, Tuesdays at 10). A five-episode tournament featuring 16 “elite competitors.”
  12. The Challenge: Vendettas (MTV, Jan. 2, Tuesdays at 10). “Twenty-eight players including stars from MTV UK’s Ex on the Beach and Geordie Shore along with contestants from Big Brother will join The Challenge fan favorites as they travel to Spain to pursue their personal vendettas against one another.”
  13. Tesla’s Death Ray: A Murder Declassified (Discovery, Jan. 2, Tuesdays at 10). “Did Nikola Tesla conceive one of the first weapons of mass destruction and was he murdered for it?”
  14. Hack My Life (truTV, Jan. 2, Tuesdays at 10). “Kevin Pereira and Brooke Van Poppelen provide comedic step-by-step instructions for eye-popping shortcuts and cheats guaranteed to save today’s busy adults a lot of time, effort, and money.”
  15. Hunting Hitler (History, Jan. 2, Tuesdays at 10). “Three years into the investigation of one of the greatest cold cases in history, 21-year CIA veteran, Bob Baer, looks to solve the final piece of the puzzle and determine the true fate of the most reprehensible mass murderer of the 20th century, Adolf Hitler.”
  16. Restored by the Fords (HGTV, Jan. 2, Tuesdays at 10). “Siblings Leanne and Steve Ford will enliven older Pittsburgh-area homes with beautiful and unique custom designs.”
  17. The Amazing Race 30 (CBS, Jan. 3, Wednesdays at 8 until Feb. 7, then Wednesdays at 9). Teams of two race around the world for $1 million.
  18. Man, Fire, Food (Cooking Channel, Jan. 3, Wednesdays at 9). “Chef Roger Mooking continues his search for the most fascinating ways to cook with flames”
  19. Match Game (ABC, Jan. 3, Wednesdays at 10). Alec Baldwin returns to host the classic game show as contestants try to match celebrities’ answers.
  20. Billion Dollar Buyer (CNBC, Jan. 3, Wednesdays at 10). Landry’s CEO Tilman Fertitta is “scouting the country for the most innovative new products America’s entrepreneurs have to offer” to his businesses.
  21. Catfish: The TV Show (MTV, Jan. 3, Wednesdays at 10). Nev Schulman and Max Joseph investigate online relationships.
  22. WAGS Atlanta (E!, Jan. 3, Wednesdays at 10). “The series follows the relationships and glamorous lifestyles of Ariel Anderson, Niche Caldwell, Kierra Douglas, Kaylin Jurrjens, Kesha Norman, Brandi Rhodes, Shuntel ‘Telli’ Swift, Sincerely Ward, and Hope Wiseman.”
  23. Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks (truTV, Jan. 3, Wednesdays at 11). Stand-up comedians perform while actors recreate the content of the jokes.
  24. The Four: Battle for Stardom (Fox, Jan. 4, Thursdays at 8). Four contestants “spanning all music genres, will fight each week to defend their coveted seats on the show, as determined newcomers challenge them and try to knock them out of the competition.”
  25. Project Runway All Stars (Lifetime, Jan. 4, Thursdays at 9). On season six of the competition, “Eight All Stars veterans will go up against eight former Runway designers.”
  26. Killing Fields: Murder Isle (Discovery, Jan. 4, Thursdays at 9). A real-time investigation of the 2004 murder of Carrie Singer in Isle of Wight County, Virginia.
  27. Building Giants (Science Channel, Jan. 4, Thursdays at 9). “showcases how key technological innovations enable giant superstructures to be built”
  28. The Interrogation Room (Discovery, Jan. 4, Thursdays at 10). “covers all facets of crime and the clever tactics used by detectives to obtain criminal confessions”
  29. Jay Leno’s Garage (CNBC, Jan. 4, Thursdays at 10). Jay Leno “is hitting the road to discover the most exciting, weird and wonderful vehicles ever made and meet the passionate people behind their wheels”
  30. Mega Machines (Science Channel, Jan. 4, Thursdays at 10). “unlocks the secrets of iconic machines, such as roller coasters, bullet trains, and cargo planes”
  31. Rotten (Netflix, Jan. 5). “exposes the fraud, corruption, and the consequences on our health of today’s global food industry”
  32. Child Support (ABC, Jan. 5, Fridays at 8). Fred Savage hosts a game show in which “contestants are asked to answer 10 questions correctly to earn the top prize” but “have a chance to be saved by the five kids who have been asked the same question by [Ricky] Gervais.
  33. Treehouse Masters (Animal Planet, Jan. 5 at 8, then Fridays at 9). Pete Nelson constructs extreme treehouses.
  34. Mysteries & Scandals (Oxygen, Jan. 5, Fridays at 9). Soledad O’Brien “investigates some of the most legendary and intriguing crimes, murders, and scandals that shook the nation and impacted pop culture”
  35. Say Yes to the Dress (TLC, Jan. 6, Saturdays at 8). “Kleinfeld Bridal is busier than ever, and consultants—old and new—are in high demand helping brides”
  36. Final Appeal (Oxygen, Jan. 7, Sundays at 7). “former football star and exoneree Brian Banks and former prosecutor Loni Coombs … work tirelessly to uncover the truth behind controversial cases that may have led to wrongful conviction”
  37. To Rome for Love (Bravo, Jan. 7, Sundays at 9). Relationship expert “Diann Valentine takes five beautiful women” who “all share in the same challenges of dating as a black woman in America” to Italy, where she “curates the ultimate foreign experience with Rome’s most eligible bachelors”
  38. Worst Cooks in America (Food Network, Jan. 7, Sundays at 9). Anne Burrell and Tyler Florence “each lead a team of cooking-challenged recruits in an intense culinary boot camp designed to improve their food skills.”
  39. North Woods Law (Animal Planet, Jan. 7, Sundays at 9). Follows the game wardens of The Maine Warden Service.
  40. Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian (E!, Jan. 7, Sundays at 10). Khloé Kardashian “and her team of fitness, style and beauty experts” help people “transform into the person they always dreamed of becoming inside and out.”
  41. Lone Star Law (Animal Planet, Jan. 7, Sundays at 10). Follows the Texas Game Wardens.