Good morning, everyone! It’s March, and between last night and this coming Sunday night, 25 reality shows will return or debut.
For a full list of that and everything else coming up this month, you can check/bookmark the spring reality TV schedule, my latest quarterly guide to premiere dates. I update it constantly, and publish a fresh new one every three months, as I did on Friday.
This morning, let’s look at some highlights and shows you won’t want to miss this week.
First, the four-hour documentary series in which two men tell their stories of being abused by Michael Jackson, Leaving Neverland, concludes tonight (HBO, 8 p.m.), and is followed by a one-hour special (HBO and OWN, 10 p.m.) that’s hosted by Oprah and has a studio audience of sexual abuse survivors. She’ll talk to both Wade Robson and James Safechuck.
This coming Sunday, the case profiled by Serial, a podcast that was inspired by reality TV, becomes a documentary reality TV series. It’s called The Case Against Adnan Syed (HBO, Sundays at 10), and it tells the stories of both Adnan Syed and the person he’s accused of murdering, Hae Min Lee.
Dwayne Johnson executive produces the new series Finding Justice (BET, Sundays at 8), which “exposes injustices in Black communities across America,” focusing on people trying to change their communities.
One month from now, two big natural history series premiere on Netflix and NatGeo, and both travel around the planet. This week, a new series takes a more contained look: at a single national park.
Epic Yellowstone (Smithsonian Channel, Sundays at 9) is a four-episode series narrated by the actor Bill Pullman that is, of course, beautifully shot; just watch the time-lapse footage in the trailer above.
Smithsonian emphasizes that it was “shot fully in the wild with no captive or enclosed animals,” because using captive animals or controlled environments is common for other natural history documentaries.
One of my favorite series of the year so far was another natural history series, Dynasties, the BBC America show that followed one group of animals for a year or more in each episode.
The documentary My Journey With a Polar Bear (Smithsonian Channel, Wednesday, March 6, at 8) takes a similar approach, as “Norwegian filmmaker Asgeir Helgestad documented the mother bear’s life over the course of four years, in extremely harsh conditions, capturing her attempts to hunt and her interactions with other bears while experiencing unprecedented change in the world around her.”
The feature documentary Inside My Heart (Starz, Monday, March 4, at 9) follows three families who’ve fled Syria and Afghanistan—and, as Starz says, becomes “a vital reminder about the human beings who have been swept up in a global crisis that involves 68 million refugees and represents the largest human exodus since the Second World War.”
Sundays are busy!
American Idol (ABC, Sundays at 8) returned last night for its second season on ABC, with the same judges, and the audition mix of heartwarming stories and incredible singers, and attention-seekers who get attention they crave.
For the stories of musicians who have already achieved success in the industry, the series Unsung (TV One, Sundays at 9) returned; it was followed by Uncensored (TV One, Sundays at 10), which “explores the private lives of some of today’s most notable personalities.”
Also back last night:
- Naked and Afraid (Discovery, Sundays at 8 until April 14, then Sundays at 9)
- Kristin Cavallari’s series Very Cavallari (E!, Sundays at 10).
- Bar Rescue (Paramount, Sundays at 10).
- Alaskan Bush People (Discovery, Sundays at 10).
Premiering was the new Valerie Bertinelli-hosted Family Food Showdown (Food Network, Sundays at 8), which is not dissimilar—at least in format—to this UK show on Netflix I previous recommended.
And there’s also the new documentary series The Bush Years (CNN, Sundays at 10), which looks at the family that gave us two presidents.
15 more shows premiering this week
Hoarders (A&E, Tuesdays at 8) is back with just five episodes, though all of them will be two hours long, focusing on a single story in each episode. In the age of Marie Kondo joy-sparking, will people still want to watch a show about mentally ill people in crisis?
A&E will follow Hoarders with, and this is its actual title, The Toe Bro (A&E, Tuesdays at 10), which may be particularly of interest to people with a particular interest in feet. It focuses on a doctor who “treats a range of shocking foot problems.”
The Real Housewives of New York City are back again, hallelujah (Bravo, Wednesdays at 9). Those cast this season consists of Bethenny Frankel, Dorinda Medley, Luann de Lesseps, Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan, and Tinsley Mortimer, and in the “friend” role, Barbara Kavovit.
Bravo also has new seasons of Summer House (Bravo, Mondays at 10) and Married to Medicine Los Angeles (Bravo, Sundays at 9).
Also returning: Paranormal 911 (Travel Channel, Mondays at 9), The Story of God with Morgan Freeman (National Geographic, Tuesdays at 9), and Mediterranean Life (HGTV, Sundays at 10).
Fans of The Amazing Race might want to check out Relative Race (BYUtv, Sundays at 9), which follows teams as they drive across the country and meet relatives they didn’t know they had. (For more on the show, read this Confessional essay.)
Several new series premiere this week:
- Family or Fiancé (OWN, Saturdays at 10) moves families in together—families who disapprove of a newly engaged couple, who will also be living in the house.
- Buddy vs. Duff (Food Network, Sundays at 9), the product of the Discovery/Scripps merger, as the stars of two shows that once competed come together for their own series: Cake Boss Buddy Valastro andAce of Cakes Duff Goldman.
- Formula 1: Drive to Survive (Netflix, March 8), which goes behind the scenes of the race.
- Deadly Recall (Investigation Discovery, Tuesdays at 10), in which a detective with photographic memory recalls old cases.