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Hard Knocks and Eco-Challenge return, Selena Gomez cooks, and other reality TV premieres

Hard Knocks and Eco-Challenge return, Selena Gomez cooks, and other reality TV premieres
Hard Knocks: LA will feature the Chargers and the Rams (Illustration by HBO)

Good morning! Today is National Lazy Day. I tried to find its origins but gave up after 30 seconds, which seemed appropriate. I think we can all use an actual break now more than ever.

How can we do that? Here’s a book I just heard about: Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving.

If, like me, you’re too lazy to read it today, here’s an interview with its author, who offers some great strategies, like taking an actual break every hour. (I learned that looking at your phone doesn’t count as a break, because our brains think we’re still working.)

TV can also help us be lazy, and there are several reality shows premiering this week, from comfortingly familiar shows like Love It or List It, to the return of one of reality TV’s earliest shows, Eco-Challenge. So let’s get to your weekly preview of reality show premieres. (And don’t forget that patrons and subscribers to my newsletter get this in their inboxes every Sunday night!)

Mark Burnett, Bear Grylls, Eco-Challenge
New Eco-Challenge host and executive producer, with its creator and executive producer Mark Burnett (inset). (Photos by MGM Television)

It’s been 18 years since this pand—I mean, since a season of Eco-Challenge aired on television, and it’s been 25 years since it first aired as a special on MTV. But the show where Mark Burnett got his start producing unscripted TV is back again.

World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji (Amazon, Friday) will follow 66 teams from 30 countries as they race across Fiji for 11 days. The race took place last fall. The trailer makes it look quite thrilling.

Two things that I’m not quite sure should be happening right now—contact sports and reality TV production— converge in Hard Knocks: Los Angeles (HBO, Tuesdays at 10).

Hard Knocks, which is filmed and then airs in near real-time, is following two teams this season, both of which are in LA, and who will share a new stadium: the Chargers and the Rams.

It will probably be very different this season, starting with the lack of pre-season games. And here’s a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a camera operator filming a player getting tested.

This week is also Shark Week on Discovery Channel, and NatGeo’s Sharkfest continues. Links to their schedules are in this story.

The 90 Day Fiancé franchise expands further with the spin-off Darcey & Stacey (TLC, Sundays at 10), which follows the twins who’ve appeared on the show.

Selena + Chef (HBO Max, Thursdays) follows Selena Gomez, who attempts to cook a meal with the help of a celebrity chef who gives her instructions remotely.

The UK show Eddie Eats America comes to the US (Cooking Channel, Tuesdays at 10), following the 2017 World’s Strongest Man who attempts various eating challenges in the United States.

Back for new seasons this week are:

  • Love It or List It (HGTV, Mondays at 9)
  • The Circus (Showtime, Sundays at 8), on which John Heilemann, Alex Wagner, and Mark McKinnon will track the presidential campaign
  • Savage Kingdom (National Geographic, Fridays at 9), which is about lions, leopards, and other animals in Africa, not U.S. politicians
  • Man V. Food: Hall of Fame (Cooking Channel, Tuesdays at 9)
  • Weird But True! (Disney+, Fridays), a NatGeo show that has moved to Disney+ for its “a mix of arts and crafts, unbelievable facts and real-life exploration” for kids

Love, Life & The Virus (PBS, Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 10, and Univision, Sunday, Aug. 16, at 7) tells the story of a woman’s “fight to survive ᴄᴏᴠɪᴅ and see her newborn baby, after giving birth on a ventilator and spending nearly three weeks in a coma— as her husband, Marvin, and older son, Junior, battled the virus as well,” according to PBS.

(Un)Well (Netflix, Wednesday) promises “a deep dive into the lucrative wellness industry.”

If that’s of interest, I highly recommend the podcast The Dream, which in its first season explored multi-level marketing companies, and in the second, looked at the wellness industry. Listen here.

Finally, a new countdown series, 10 Things You Don’t Know (E!, Mondays at 10). focuses on a different celebrity each episode, highlighting what it claims are “unique, unbelievable, and surprising facts.”

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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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