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From Jersey Shore to Betty White: reality TV shows and specials debuting this week 

From Jersey Shore to Betty White: reality TV shows and specials debuting this week 
Betty White on Saturday Night Live (Photo via the Pioneers of Television Archives)

Jersey Shore Family Vacation returns for its second part/season/whatever (MTV, Thursdays at 8), sending the cast to Las Vegas before returning them to the actual New Jersey shore for an Atlantic City weekend.

Also back: The Contender, the boxing competition series that first aired on NBC, and is now on premium cable (Epix, Fridays at 9). I’ll have a review of the new season later this week. Andre “Son of God” Ward is the host.

Also on pay cable is America to Me (Starz, Sundays at 9), a documentary series by the director of Hoop Dreams, Steve James, who follows students at a suburban Chicago high school.

Buzzfeed reporters and their work are followed for the new Netflix series aptly titled Follow This (Netflix, Aug. 23).

MTV gives a platform to Zach Holmes, who MTV says was banned from YouTube for his dumb stunts, like wearing a vest of fireworks while shirtless and then setting them off. His show is titled Too Stupid To Die (MTV, Tuesdays at 10).

TLC follows a family with dwarfism who moves to a farm in Arizona on Little Life on the Prairie (TLC, Mondays at 10), while the Cooking Channel goes behind the scenes of bakeries on Crazy Cakes (Cooking Channel,Fridays at 10).

And Treasure Quest: Snake Island returns for its third season (Discovery, Fridays at 9) with treasure-hunters looking for a $2 billion treasure in Bolivia.

Betty White, drag queen ballet dancers, and other docs

Betty White, Hot in Cleveland

Betty White on the TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland (Photo via the Pioneers of Television Archives)

  1. Betty White, star of The Golden Girls, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and so many other shows, will be celebrated in Betty White: First Lady of Television (PBS, Aug. 21, check your local listings for times). She’s been on TV for almost 80 years.As PBS notes, Betty White “was the first woman to produce a national TV show, the first woman to star in a sitcom, the first producer to hire a female director and the first woman to receive an Emmy nomination.” The special was filmed over five years and includes interviews with friends and co-stars, and footage of her in performances and at home, plus clips of her long career, which included appearances on game shows.
  2. A 40-year-old ballet company made up of drag queens, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, is the subject of Rebels on Pointe (Starz, Monday, Aug. 20, at 9). Starz says the documentary “celebrates our shared humanity through universal themes of identity, dreams, family, love, loss, determination and resilience” and “proves that a ballerina is not merely a woman dancing, but an act of revolution in a tutu.”
  3. Quiet Heroes (Logo, Thursday, Aug. 23 at 8) follows the only doctor in Utah who’d help AIDS patients in the 1980s, Dr. Kristen Ries. Logo says the film “is the story of her fight—against stigma, shame and ignorance—to save a maligned population everyone else seemed willing to just let die.”
  4. Crime + Punishment (Hulu, Aug. 24) “goes behind the scenes and undercover to expose discriminatory policing practices, intimidation and corruption within the New York Police Department,” according to Hulu.

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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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