This week marks the return of two wildly popular, previously concluded reality series: Trading Spaces and Jersey Shore. Although they mostly aired in different decades, they each earned massive ratings for their networks and each affected the trajectory of reality television at the time.
But it’s a different time now: Will the shows still work? Or will they feel dated? (I’ll have reviews of each later in the week.)
The Jersey Shore cast members are older and some even have kids, so instead of spending a summer at the shore, they’re taking a Jersey Shore Family Vacation (MTV, Thursdays at 8) in Miami. Seven of the original eight cast members are back; Sammi Sweetheart opted out.
Two days later, Trading Spaces will be bringing back most of its original cast (TLC, Saturdays at 9) and host Paige Davis for the revival, which has increased the designers’ budget to $2,000 per room but otherwise retained the same format.
It’s preceded at 8 p.m. this week and next Saturday, April 14, by an 8 p.m. reunion of the cast and crew.
And the show that airs after Trading Spaces, Nate and Jeremiah By Design (TLC, Saturdays at 10), will have a special cross-over episode, on which husbands Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent will guest star as designers on Trading Spaces.
Also back this week: The Real Housewives of New York City (Bravo, Wednesdays at 9), for their 10th season of joyous ridiculousness, and hopefully lots of vacations.
The Alton Brown-hosted competition Iron Chef Gauntlet is back to find another Iron Chef (Food Network, Wednesdays at 9). In its first season, it turned out to be a great Food Network competition, so I’m looking forward to more.
And 13 other series are also making their returns or debuts this week. For descriptions of what any of these shows are about, see the full spring reality TV guide:
- Flipping Virgins (HGTV, April 2, Mondays at 9)
- Vegas Cakes (Food Network, April 2, Mondays at 10)
- Little People, Big World (TLC, April 3, Tuesdays at 9)
- My Little Life (TLC, April 3, Tuesdays at 10)
- Good Bones (HGTV, April 3, Tuesdays at 10)
- Southern Charm (Bravo, April 5, Thursdays at 9)
- Fastest Car (Netflix, April 6)
- Vice (HBO, April 6, Fridays at 11)
- Buckeye Bottoms (NatGeo WILD, April 7, Saturdays at 9)
- Long Island Medium (TLC, April 8, Sundays at 8)
- Rock & Roll Road Trip With Sammy Hagar (AXS, April 8, Sundays at 9)
- Real Money (AXS, April 8, Sundays at 9:30)
- Deadly Intelligence (Science, April 8, Sundays at 10)
Finally, ending this week is Fixer Upper (HGTV, Tuesday at 9), which is ending forever, and the current season of Project Runway All Stars (Lifetime, Thursday at 9), which maybe should end forever but will probably be back anyway.
The Staircase revisited and two other specials
Also airing this week:
- Penn & Teller: April Fool Us Day (The CW, Monday, April 2, at 9). Alyson Hannigan hosts a behind-the-scenes episode of The CW series, on which Penn and Teller try to figure out how magicians do their tricks.
- I Am MLK Jr. (Paramount Network, Wednesday, April 4, at 9) is a documentary about the civil rights leader that airs on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. It “tells the story and celebrates the life of this American icon from an engaging contemporary perspective,” according to the network, and includes interviews with activists and media figures, from John Lewis to Nick Cannon.
- Sex, Lies and Butterflies (PBS, Wednesday, April 4, at 8) is a Nature special narrated by Paul Giamatti that’s all about “the amazing abilities of butterflies.”
- The documentary series that inspired Serial, The Staircase, is getting another look with An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase (ID, April 8, 9 and 10 at 10), which ID says is a “comprehensive look at the death of Kathleen Peterson, exploring the shocking theories, critical evidence and surprising secrets that thrust this case into the national spotlight.” Or you could just watch The Staircase.