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Reality TV premieres this week, from Padma’s new show to a new Worst Cooks in America

Reality TV premieres this week, from Padma’s new show to a new Worst Cooks in America
Alex Guarnaschelli joins Anne Burrell on Worst Cooks in America season 20 (Photo by Food Network)

Here’s your weekly look at what’s premiering in unscripted TV: returning shows, new series, and documentary features and specials. This week is bringing us the finale of Top Chef, two brand-new streaming competition series, and a lot more.

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A brand-new competition takes a childhood game and makes it come to life: Floor is Lava (Netflix, Friday) has teams navigating sets and trying not to fall into the lava, which is presumably not actual lava.

If you were a fan of Endurance, the 2002 to 2008 series that was on NBC and Discovery and was essentially Survivor for teenagers, get ready for a new show that will sound pretty familiar, perhaps because it comes from Endurance host and producer J. D. Roth.

Karma (HBO Max, Thursday) calls itself an “adventure competition series” that “will test the mental and physical stamina of its young contestants as they unravel how their social actions impact their success in the game.”

Top Chef All Stars LA will air its finale Thursday, and the next day is the premiere of host and judge Padma Lakshmi’s new show, Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi (Hulu, Friday). She’ll be traveling the country to explore food culture of immigrant groups.

Speaking of Bravo: Both Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and the Real Housewives of New York are taking short breaks this month. RHOBH returns July 8.

With Worst Cooks in America‘s reality star-heavy celebrity edition ending last night, Food Network has a whole new season ready to go, this time with regular people (Food Network, Sundays at 9). Alex Guarnaschelli will lead the other team opposite Anne Burrell on season 20.

Also returning for new seasons:

  • Siesta Key (MTV, Tuesdays at 8)
  • Sweet Home Sextuplets (TLC, Tuesdays at 10)
  • Babies: Part 2 (Netflix, Friday)

Making It host Nick Offerman narrates a new show that looks at “histories and mysteries” about rooms in our houses. It’s called The History of Home (CuriosityStream, Thursday).

Dads (Apple TV+, Friday) is a documentary premiering just before Father’s Day that’s an “exploration of modern fatherhood” directed by the actor Bryce Dallas Howard.

Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters (Crackle, Thursday) is about the creation of the 1984 film, which Crackle calls “[t]he definitive documentary about one of the most beloved film franchises of all times.”

Some countries are returning to versions of normal life. Meanwhile, in America, more than 110,000 people have died and cases are rising in half the country, while many people refuse to even wear masks in public—even though they help protect us and other people.

PBS is exploring “why and how the U.S. was unprepared to battle” what we’ve faced this spring in a new special, The Virus: What Went Wrong? (PBS, Tuesday, June 16, at 9:30 and streaming).

America In Black and Blue 2020 (PBS, Monday, June 15, at 9) is an update of a 2016 program that looks at “police violence on black citizens” with “interviews with key leaders and participants in the struggle for racial justice, accountability and equity, as well as voices from law enforcement,” according to PBS.

ABC is rebroadcasting the 2017 documentary Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 (ABC, Tuesday, June 16, at 8), which is director John Ridley’s look at “defining incidents in the history of race relations in this country at a time when it is so important to understand what events have led to the current national crisis,” according to the network.

Prehistoric Road Trip (PBS, Wednesdays at 10) is a new series that follows Emily Grasile, a Field Museum staffer and YouTuber, who “embarks on an epic road trip through America’s fossil country, where she encounters mysterious creatures and bizarre ecosystems that have shaped Earth as we know it,” according to PBS.

Dino Hunters (Discovery, Fridays at 9) follows a group of ranchers who are finding dinosaur skeletons and selling them—like Gold Rush but with T-Rexes.

Lucy Worsley’s Royal Myths and Secrets (PBS, Sundays at 8) explores “how royal history is a mixture of facts, exaggeration, manipulation and mythology.”

Cleopatra: Sex, Lies and Secrets (Science Channel, Sunday, June 21, at 8) follows “experts [who] seek out the latest groundbreaking archaeological research to unravel the mystery behind this elusive Egyptian queen.”

Among the many things attorney Roy Cohn did in his life was mentor and inspire Donald Trump, and a new documentary looks at his life and influence. Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn (HBO, Thursday, June 18, at 9).

Father Soldier Son (Netflix, Friday) tells the story of a veteran wounded in Afghanistan.

The film is directed by Ivy Meeropol, whose grandparents Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were prosecuted, convicted, and executed for spying for Russia, and who PBS says “spent much of her life feeling both repelled and fascinated by the man who prosecuted her grandparents, obtained their convictions in federal court and then insisted on their executions.”

A woman who spent 30 years recording American TV 24/7 is the subject of Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project (PBS, Monday, June 15, at 10). PBS says that she was a “Philadelphia-based Communist and radical activist [who] believed that a comprehensive archive of the media would one day be invaluable, protecting the truth by archiving everything that was said and shown on television,” though her “maddening project nearly tore her family apart.”

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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.

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