Summer reality TV is fully in swing—now that it’s fall. And that means this very weird year will bring us the premiere of a summer staple and a fall tradition all in the same week.
All of those details are ahead, in this weekly preview of reality TV show premieres, and televised airings of documentaries and other nonfiction TV. And if you want to get this in your inbox on Sunday nights, just subscribe to my newsletter and upgrade your subscription.
Some summer reality TV, like Big Brother 22 (which has turned out to be a massive disappointment, thanks to the show’s broken format) and Love Island (which is doing its thing), is going strong. Both shows will conclude their seasons this fall, months later than normal.
My favorite summer series, Holey Moley, is ending this week (ABC, Thursday, Sept. 10, at 8), but there are two specials coming, including immediate following the finale. “Holey Moley II: The Sequel: The Special: Unhinged, Part One” and “Part Deux” promise “an inside look into the making of the world’s craziest competition series” plus “unforgettable never-before-seen putts” and follow-ups with season-one winners.
The first of Food Network’s many Halloween-themed competitions start on Sunday: Halloween Wars season 10 (Food Network, Sundays at 9) has host Jonathan Bennett and six teams creating big displays. After that, seven pumpkin carvers compete on Outrageous Pumpkins (Food Network, Sundays at 10).
And if the start of fall isn’t enough, winter is approaching on Life Below Zero. Its cast of characters return for a new season on a special night and time, before returning to their normal timeslot. (National Geographic, Monday at 8, then Tuesdays at 8). Half of this season was filmed this summer.
If you’ve ever wondered what it was like for the LBZ cast when they first moved off-grid, well, NatGeo wondered that, too. So here comes Life Below Zero: Next Generation (National Geographic, Monday at 9, then Tuesdays at 9), which follows an all-new cast of people who are just starting their off-grid lives.
I talked to its showrunner about how the show was cast—and you can also watch the first five minutes of the new season in that story, if you want to check it out.
And just to mention all the seasons, if you’re reading for some spring cleaning in the fall, there’s a new show on Netflix that helps a celebrity and non-celebrity organize their house in each episode. It’s called Get Organized with The Home Edit (Netflix, Wednesday).
Tamar Braxton decided to stop letting WEtv turn her life into reality TV—she said they’d “betrayed … overworked, and underpaid” her—but they’re still going to air the six-episode season of Tamar Braxton: Get Ya Life! (WEtv, Thursdays at 10).
Returning for new seasons:
- Singled Out (Quibi, Sept. 7), one of the few reality shows on Quibi that I thought worked well. Too bad Quibi isn’t working well.
- Brother vs. Brother (HGTV, Wednesdays at 9)
- Love After Lockup (WE tv, Fridays at 9)
- My Feet Are Killing Me: First Steps (TLC, Thursdays at 10:30), which is a special version on which the doctors help people via video chat. Dr. Pimple Popper: Before the Pop returned last week (TLC, Thursdays at 10) with a similarly modified format.
New from HGTV: Selling the Big Easy (HGTV, Fridays at 9), which follows Brittany Picolo-Ramos in New Orleans, and Help! I Wrecked My House (HGTV, Saturdays at 8), on which Jasmine Roth helps people who’ve screwed up their attempts at home renovation.
Judgement with Ashley Banfield (Court TV, Sundays at 8) offers “a deep dive into the most provocative and talked about trials and cases of all-time,” according to its network.
My Octopus Teacher (Netflix, Monday) is about “an unusual friendship” between the director and, yes, an octopus.
NatGeo WILD launches its Big Cat Week today, with the special Jade Eyed Leopard (NatGeo WILD, Monday, Sept. 7, at 8), which follows a leopard for the first three years of its life.
Travel Channel is launching a new series of documentaries that it calls “shockumentaries,” perhaps because they’re all about the paranormal yet on a network that is still, for some unknown reason, called Travel Channel.
Anyway, the first is about the house and couple that inspired The Conjuring: Devil’s Road: The True Story of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Travel, Monday, Sept. 7, at 9) includes “interviews with their daughter and son-in-law, Judy and Tony Spera, who share never-before-broadcast audio of Ed conducting interviews for the Bridgeport, Connecticut, poltergeist case,” according to the network.
Portraits and Dreams (PBS, Monday, Sept. 7, at 10) follows up on photographer Wendy Ewald’s 1970s project, during which she gave elementary school kids cameras to document their lives. Now, 30 years later, she checks in with those kids.
Biography returns tonight with The Nine Lives of Ozzy Osbourne (A&E, Monday, Sept. 7, at 9), and then continues tomorrow with I Want My MTV (A&E, Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 9).
The “children and their families navigating issues of poverty, homelessness, race and new challenges” are the subjects of Growing Up Poor in America (PBS, Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 9).
Harbor from the Holocaust (PBS, Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 10) focuses on Jewish refugees who ended upon Shanghai. PBS says it “tells the story of a group of people who, in tragic contrast with those who could not escape, were given a second chance. “
La Línea: Shadow of Narco (Netflix, Wednesday) follows law enforcement in a Spanish town that’s “Europe’s drug trafficking hub,” according to Netflix.
The Social Dilemma (Netflix, Wednesday) is about “our growing dependence on social media,” and “how social media is reprogramming civilization.”
Kaplan America (Discovery, Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 10) follows the owner of Kaplan Cycles, Ken Kaplan, and his son as they “race to get five bikes restored and sold in a week—all while they track down and fight to return three stolen bikes to their rightful owner,” according to the network.
Human Nature (PBS, Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 8) examines “the science, history, and ethics of a revolutionary gene-editing technology and its applications.”
Finally, it’s the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and three specials look at various aspects of that day:
- Bin Laden’s Hard Drive (National Geographic, Thursday, Sept. 10, at 9) is a documentary based on the “newly declassified hard drives taken from the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed.”
- 9/11: The Final Minutes of Flight 93 (History, Friday, Sept. 11, at 8) is a “minute-by-minute account” based on “previously classified streams of evidence” about “United Flight 93’s crucial final moments,” according to the network.
- It’s followed by 9/11: The Pentagon (History, Friday, Sept. 11, at 9), which is described as “a raw eyewitness account of tragedy, heroism and survival.”