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This week in reality TV, from Jane Goodall to Terrace House

This week in reality TV, from Jane Goodall to Terrace House
Jane Goodall and an infant chimpanzee, Flint, who was the first born after she started studying them in Tanzania. (Photo by Hugo van Lawick/National Geographic Creative)

Happy Monday morning. March’s showers of new and returning reality TV shows and documentary specials continues this week.

There are new seasons of Netflix’s Terrace House: Opening New Doors (Tuesday), Discovery’s Fast N’ Loud (Mondays at 9), OWN’s The Book of John Gray (Tuesdays at 10), HGTV’s Flip or Flop Vegas (March 15, Thursdays at 9), NatGeo WILD’s Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER (Sundays at 9), and NBC’s Steve Harvey series Little Big Shots (March 18 at 7, then Sundays at 8).

16 and Pregnant returns, essentially, as Teen Mom: Young and Pregnant (MTV, Mondays at 10).

The competitions Forged in Fire (History, Tuesdays at 9), Spring Baking Championship (Food Network, Mondays at 9), and Guy’s Grocery Games (Food Network, Sundays at 9) are also back.

And here are five new shows:

  1. Wild Wild Country (Netflix, March 13) is a six-episode series about cult leader whose new community in Oregon, Rajneeshpuram, becomes a major source of conflict with a nearby town.
  2. The Tattoo Shop (Facebook Watch, March 15, Thursdays). Stars of Miami Ink and NY Ink open a new tattoo shop in Miami.
  3. The Secret Life of Kids (USA, March 16, Fridays at 9) follows actual children as they go to school for the first time.
  4. Christiane Amanpour: Sex & Love Around the World (CNN, March 17, Saturdays at 10) is about how “women and men are all pushing the boundaries on sexual satisfaction, consent, and connection”
  5. Neil Patrick Harris hosts a new game show for smart kids, Genius Junior (NBC, March 18, Sundays at 9).

The documentary about Jane Goodall that surprised her

The documentary that multiple critics said was last year’s best—which was BAFTA- but not Oscar-nominated—will air on television tonight. Jane (National Geographic, Monday, March 12, at 8) tells the story of Dr. Jane Goodall in part by using newly discovered footage from the 1960s, when she first studied chimpanzees in Tanzania.

In its review, The Economist pointed out that “she is the subject of more than 40 films.” So why do we need another?

Goodall said in a press release that this version of her story has “something very immediate and real and unconstrained,” and “shows things as they were, bringing to light people’s characters, especially mine and [National Geographic photograher] Hugo’s, in such an intimate way. It took me back to the best days of my life in a way that none of the other documentaries have.”

It’s directed by Brett Morgen, who also directed Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck and The Kid Stays in the Picture. He says that his “film is very much a love story, except the love is not between man and woman. The love is between a woman and her work.”

An Alex Rodriguez reality show pilot and two other specials

  • The pilot for a new series, Back in the Game (CNBC Tuesday, March 13, at 10), features Alex Rodriguez helping a former NBA player, Joe Smith, “who’s lost most of the 60 million dollars he made in his long career,” according to a press release.
  • Oxygen will air a two-part documentary (Saturday and Sunday, March 17 and 18, at 7) about Aaron Hernandez, the NFL player who was convicted of murder and then died by suicide in prison. The network promises Aaron Hernandez: Uncovered will have “[n]ew information and never-before-seen interviews uncover the duality of Aaron’s life, including a secret he held onto until death, and a murky background that led to a life of crime.”
  • Beyond the Opposite Sex (Showtime, Friday, March 16, at 9) is a follow-up to a 2004 documentary about two people getting gender confirmation surgery. It reconnects with Rene and Jamie ” 14 years later to find that their surgeries, which had been lifelong goals, were far from the finish line of their difficult journeys,” according to the network.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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