It’s the first full week of 2020, and broadcast reality TV has five big returning reality shows to get us through these dark winter days. Meanwhile, cable and streaming services are premiering more than 20 shows this week.
Summer reality TV in January
Over the past few years, broadcast networks’ fall schedules have had fewer reality TV shows on their fall schedules. Fall is the home for new scripted series; reality TV shows stand by to fill in the gaps when those shows get cancelled. But winter has become the new summer, with midseason premieres of old franchises and new series, too.
That’s best exemplified by NBC’s America’s Got Talent: The Champions (NBC, Mondays at 8), which is basically an excuse to take advantage of its popularity.
The hit summer show returns for its second season, bringing back returning acts—and judge Heidi Klum, who returns alongside new judge Alesha Dixon.
AGT: The Champions has a slightly new format and voting system, and was once again pre-taped, so none of it will be live.
Also on broadcast TV, there’s the return of The Bachelor (ABC, Mondays at 8). Peter Weber is back flying for Delta now, but his season of manufactured drama starts tonight. He’ll be looking for love and cutting open his face.
Ellen DeGeneres returns to host her game show Ellen’s Game of Games (NBC, Tuesdays at 8), while Gordon Ramsay brings back his shtick on 24 Hours to Hell and Back (Fox, Tuesdays at 9).
Finally, there’s a new season of Undercover Boss (CBS, Wednesdays at 8), which returns with actual bosses going undercover—not celebrities, like in the special episodes that aired a few years ago.
22 other reality TV show premieres
We’ve just concluded all the holiday baking shows—so it’s time for more baking shows! Kids Baking Championship is back with (Food Network, Mondays at 9) Valerie Bertinelli and Duff Goldman hosting.
Love & Hip Hop: Miami (VH1, Mondays at 9) returns with the return of former cast member Joseline Hernandez, while Vanderpump Rules (Bravo, Tuesdays at 9) is back with Lisa Vanderpump dealing with new employees, i.e. cast members.
Catfish: The TV Show (MTV, Wednesdays at 8) returns for a new season, which has, in its old age, become so desperate for viewers and/or participants that it’s now ambushing people whose friends think they’re being catfished.
That’s paired with MTV’s attempt to get into true crime with True Life Crime (MTV, Wednesdays at 9), a series that explores “true crime mysteries rocking headlines and social feeds”—all involving young people, of course.
From the producer of Last Chance U comes Cheer (Netflix, Jan. 8), which follows a competitive cheerleading team at Navarro College.
On Reclaimed (Discovery, Thursdays at 9), two miners will renovate dormant mines in exchange for some of the profits.
Hot and Heavy (TLC, Tuesdays at 10) focuses on three men who, in TLC’s words, “defend the honor of their significant others and face judgment due to their mixed-weight relationships.”
That framing alone has resulted in criticism of the show because “audiences are only being exposed to couples where the ‘heavy’ is a woman and the ‘hot’ is a man,” which means, as BJ Colangelo writes for The Curvy Fashionista, “The woman’s weight is presented as a hurdle each couple needed to overcome in order to achieve acceptance and happiness.”
A&E has spun a competition series off of its hit show Live PD: America’s Top Dog (A&E, Wednesdays at 9) is a competition between K9 teams, including from the show and non-police teams. Five compete in each episode. Its series Live Rescue (A&E, Mondays at 9) also returns.
Ink Master: Turf War (Paramount, Tuesdays at 10) introduces a new twist for season 13: the contestants will be divided into four groups based upon where they’re from: the north, south, east, and west.
Also returning for new seasons this week:
- Zumbo’s Just Desserts (Netflix, Jan. 10)
- Siesta Key (MTV, Tuesdays at 8)
- Finding Your Roots (PBS, Tuesdays at 8)
- Very Cavallari (E!, Thursdays at 9)
- Collector’s Call (MeTV, Sundays at 9:30) hosted by hosted by Survivor alum Lisa Whelchel
- Family or Fiancé (OWN, Saturdays at 9)
- Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ‘N Out (VH1, Tuesdays at 8)
- My Big Fat Fabulous Life (TLC, Tuesdays at 8)
- Burgers, Brew & ‘Que (Cooking Channel, Tuesdays at 9)
- Guardians of the Glades (Discovery, Tuesdays at 10)
Finally this week: Lifetime’s documentary series Hopelessly in Love continues (Friday, Jan. 10, at 9) with “Faith Evans and Notorious B.I.G.”, and says that “Faith Evans is ready to confront her pain and revisit the most intimate moments of their relationship… from their whirlwind engagement, to the East coast/West coast rivalry that led to Tupac and Big’s deaths.”
The first episode, “Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes and Andre Rison,” which premiered last week, repeats tonight (Monday, Jan. 6, at 10:03 p.m.).