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Reality TV premieres for Thanksgiving week

Reality TV premieres for Thanksgiving week
Tom the Turkey in front of Macy's during the Nov. 28, 2019, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC)

We’ve reached the final week in November, which is a holiday week in the United States. This week presents various opportunities: to watch the (very different) Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, to revisit and reflect upon the real story behind Thanksgiving, and to shop online this Friday and avoid both crowds and COVID-19/death. (Need some gift ideas for reality TV fans?)

This week is also an opportunity to express gratitude, and I am so grateful to you for subscribing to this newsletter; reading my writing; and watching and discussing reality TV with me. I’m also grateful to those of you who support my work via Patreon, or who’ve upgraded their newsletter subscriptions here. Thank you all so much!

Now, enjoy this look at the reality TV that’s premiering—and, in two cases, what’s coming to an end this week.

Two finales and two premieres

  • Dancing with the Stars (ABC, Monday, Nov. 23, at 8) ends with Tyra Banks presenting the mirrorball trophy to Justina Machado, Kaitlyn Bristowe, Nev Schulman, or Nelly, and then possibly taking it back and giving it to the real winner.
  • Tosh.0 (Comedy Central, Tuesday, Nov. 24, at 10) airs its 301st—and final—episode of mocking clips. The show had been renewed for four additional seasons but was cancelled earlier this year.
  • Empires of New York (CNBC, Sundays at 8) is narrated by Paul Giamatti and follows New York City personalities, including John Gotti, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump, and Leona Helmsley, through the 1980s.
  • Texas 6 (CBS All Access, Thursday) follows a high school football team in Texas that has just six players, as do all the teams in their league

I love marathons

  • I Love New York will marathon all day starting at 9 a.m., and be followed by the reunion (VH1, Monday, Nov. 23, at 8), on which Tiffany Pollard “will revisit the show’s greatest moments,” according to VH1.
  • The 2012 show Hollywood Exes will also marathon its season on Tuesday, and reunite its cast (VH1, Tuesday, Nov. 24, at 8).
  • Starting Friday, ID is airing five nights of “True Crime at 9.”

🎄 Holiday magic

While Friday brings the annual broadcasts of Frosty the Snowman (CBS, 8 p.m.), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (NBC, 8 p.m.) and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (ABC, 8 p.m.), reality TV has plenty of Christmas and holiday cheer:

  • Top Elf (Nickelodeon, Thursdays at 7:30) continues its second season, which I neglected to mention last week because Viacom networks like to make it as hard as possible for people to find their shows. Anyway, it’s basically Making It for kids, and is quite charming. Episode one repeats Tuesday at 8.
  • Biggest Little Christmas Showdown (HGTV, Fridays at 9) is a competition between people who create miniature holiday scenes.
  • Two holiday-themed episodes of Craftopia drop on Thanksgiving (HBO Max, Thursday).
  • Sugar Rush Christmas (Netflix, Friday) has holiday-themed episodes of the competition.
  • Santa’s Wild Home (PBS, Wednesday, Nov. 25, at 8) is Nature’s look at Lapland, the northern part of Finland which PBS says is “the fabled home of Santa Claus and actual home of reindeer, wolverines, eagles, wolves, brown bears and” other animals.
  • 12 Dates of Christmas (HBO Max, Thursday) follows three people who are looking for love, and someone to bring home for Christmas—except don’t do that this year, stay away from strangers.
  • Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker (Netflix, Friday) follows Debbie Allen as she trains kids to perform in Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, an updated version of the play.
  • All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 (PBS, Friday, Nov. 27, check local listings; and streaming on PBS.org Dec. 15) tells the story of “the moment when Allied and German soldiers laid down their arms to celebrate the holiday together during World War I,” according to PBS. Update: It turns out that this is a musical! So not exactly reality TV.

Returning for new seasons

  • Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team (CMT, Tuesdays at 10) returns for its 15th season
  • This is Life with Lisa Ling (CNN, Sundays at 9)
  • Moonshiners (Discovery, Tuesdays at 8)

Documentaries and specials

  • Saving Notre Dame (PBS, Wednesday, Nov. 25, at 9) follows the “engineers [who] are in a different race against time: to rebuild the roof and secure the medieval structure of Notre Dame” and “scientists [who] study the components of Notre Dame’s iconic structure to puzzle out how best to repair it.” 
  • Shawn Mendes: In Wonder (Netflix, Monday), which follows Mendes on a world tour.
  • Showtime describes My Psychedelic Love Story (Showtime, Sunday, Nov. 29, at 9) with this incredible series of words: “a psychedelic head trip crossed with a possible CIA conspiracy and wrapped in a fascinating love story told by the late Joanna Harcourt-Smith about her time with Timothy Leary.”
  • The Mystery of D.B. Cooper (HBO, Wednesday, Nov. 25, at 9) profiles “four individuals fervently believed by their family and friends to be ‘D.B. Cooper,’ the mystery man who hijacked a 727 flying out of Seattle.”

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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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