reality TV reviews and news

This week: American Idol, Bar Rescue, and Marriage Boot Camp return, plus 14 other shows

American Idol is back, and so, apparently, are the WGWGs. This is Andrew Weaver auditioning during episode one. (Photo by Guy D’Alema/ABC)

While one of the major network reality series starts its ending tonight—ABC’s The Bachelor has a three-hour finale (!) tonight followed by a live two-hour reunion on Tuesday, which all follows what feels like five weeks of hype for this finale—the big reality TV premiere takes place at the end of these seven days.

That’s the return of American Idol, less than two years after its cancellation. It’s on a new network, ABC, and has new judges, but Ryan Seacrest and the same basic format return (ABC, Sundays and Mondays at 8).

At the same time as Idol’s return, there will be three hours of obstacle course insanity on American Ninja Warrior: USA vs. The World (NBC, March 11 at 7).

On cable, two ridiculous old favorites return: Bar Rescue, which has survived the change of its network’s name and identity (Paramount, March 11, Sundays at 10) and Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars Family Edition (WE tv, March 9, Fridays at 9), which expands its cast to include families instead of just couples.

But those are just the start. Here are 14 other reality shows debuting on cable this week, with descriptions from their respective networks’ press releases:

  1. Shifting Gears with Aaron Kaufman (Discovery, March 5, Mondays at 10). “Fast N’ Loud star Aaron Kaufman is back, and this time, he’s the boss”
  2. The Curse of Civil War Gold (History, March 6, Tuesdays at 10). Kevin Dykstra seeks Marty Lagina’s help in exploring “a story of national treasure that goes back to the Civil War”
  3. The Men Who Built America: Frontiersmen (History, March 7, Wednesdays at 9). “tells the stories of the adventurous trailblazers, from Davy Crockett to Lewis and Clark, who set forth across the land to transform us from colonists to revolutionaries to Americans”
  4. Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings (Discovery, March 7, Wednesdays at 9). “32 of the biggest names in no prep racing—including Street Outlaws favorites, as well as newcomers—will duke it out to become the ultimate ‘no prep winner’ and receive a $40,000 first place purse”
  5. My 600-LB Life: Skin Tight (TLC, March 7, Wednesdays at 10). “Dr. Nowzaradan returns with other top plastic surgeons across the country to work with subjects looking to undergo a full-body transformation through skin removal surgery”
  6. Truck Night in America (History, March 8, Thursdays at 10). “50 truck owners from across the United States compete in grueling challenges that test their ingenuity and driving ability”
  7. Nailed It! (Netflix, March 9). “Home bakers with a terrible track record take a crack at re-creating edible masterpieces for a $10,000 prize. It’s part reality contest, part hot mess.”
  8. The Zoo (Animal Planet, March 10, Saturdays at 9). “the first-ever series to go behind the scenes at the world-famous Bronx Zoo”
  9. Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue (NatGeo WILD, March 10, Saturdays at 10). The “staff at the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region risk their lives and give their hearts to save all animals big and small”
  10. How Close Can I Beach? (HGTV, March 11, Sundays at 8:30). “[Follows] buyers who tour coastal towns in hopes of finding the perfect beachside home”
  11. American Dynasties: The Kennedys (CNN, March 11, Sundays at 9). “takes viewers behind the public image of America’s ‘First Family,’ revealing how personal relationships within the Kennedy dynasty helped shape national and global events”
  12. Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History (CNN, March 11, Sundays at 10). “goes inside the Vatican to reveal the true power held by popes throughout the ages”
  13. The Riveras (Universo, March 11, Sundays at 10). “the only English-language reality [show] about a Hispanic family in the U.S.” follows “he lives of the children of the late Regional Mexican music legend, Jenni Rivera as they take on life’s challenges by supporting each other”
  14. The Supervet (NatGeo WILD, March 11, Sundays at 10). Follows the staff of “Fitzpatrick Referrals in Surrey, England,” which “is one of the biggest and best veterinary hospitals in the world”