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Reality TV premieres include A Day in the Life of America, filmed by 92 camera crews

With more than 60 new shows premiering last week, it’s unlikely anyone has run out of new shows to watch already, and perhaps you’re like me: already behind!

But here come another dozen new seasons and reality shows this week, plus a few documentaries.

Whether you’re just joining me or have been reading these for years, this Monday-morning preview looks ahead at reality TV and documentary premieres for the next seven days—and also sometimes highlights things like reunions and finales.

Those who are paying subscribers to my newsletter receive it in their inbox on Sundays as a bonus thanks for supporting my work. Okay, onto the premieres.

Two new reality shows follow groups of people in the style of The Real Housewives. On Bling Empire (Netflix, Friday), we’ll “[follow] a wildly wealthy group of Asian and Asian American friends (and frenemies) in Los Angeles,” while Belle Collective (OWN, Fridays at 10) follows “the personal and professional lives of five successful, glamourous boss women who are redefining what it means to be a southern belle in Jackson, Mississippi.”

In the very ambitious and perfectly titled A Day in the Life of America (PBS, Monday, Jan. 11, at 10), we’ll see what 92 camera crews filmed on July 4, 2017, across the United States.

It was directed by Jared Leto, who told PBS why he wanted to produce this:

“This was an idea I’d been thinking about for a really long time and I thought it could be an opportunity to turn the camera on ourselves and capture a portrait of this country and these really tumultuous and fascinating times that we’re living in. When I was a kid, my mother subscribed to National Geographic. It was our gateway to the world, as it is for so many; they had a project where they sent photographers all over the country to capture a single day in the life of the United States, and that always stuck with me.

I look at it as a time capsule something that you could dig up 100 years from now, even 1000 years from now, and it would give us some insight into who we are, what kind of people we are, what kind of time that we’re living in. Seeing the final product, formed of the 92 incredibly talented crews, covering all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and DC, has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career to date.”

Meanwhile, the series All American Stories will premiere on TV and then move to free streaming (The CW, Jan. 11 at 8, then CW Seed) as it profiles eight athletes.

Ty Pennington returns to HGTV with Ty Breaker, a show that sounds a lot like a version of Love it Or List it, as Ty will “will help conflicted homeowners decide whether to overhaul their current home or renovate a different property to suit their needs (HGTV, Mondays at 9).

A new season of Restaurant: Impossible premiered on Food Network last Thursday—and that’s also the last episode you’ll see this new season, because the show is moving forever to Discovery+.

Straight Up Steve Austin (USA, Mondays at 11) follows the WWE star and a different celebrity each episode for trips into cities where they “take part in one-of-a-kind adventures,” USA says.

Street Outlaws: Mega Cash Days (Discovery, Mondays at 9) is a spin-off on which 64 drivers compete, while on Discovery’s new pay streaming service, UFO Witness (Discovery+, Jan. 14) follows a paranormal investigator who will investigate UFO sightings and find nothing, because no one ever finds anything on those shows.

The two-part reunion for Ready to Love starts Friday (OWN, Jan. 15 and 22, at 9). All 20 singes reunite to talk about their experience on the dating show.

And speaking of romance reality TV, here’s what’s returning with new seasons:

  • Married at First Sight (Lifetime, Wednesdays at 8), which was filmed in Atlanta and follows five couples.
  • Unpolished (TLC, Tuesdays at 10)

Crime and murder reality TV

Oxygen has three new series with self-explanatory titles: Exhumed (Oxygen, Sundays at 7), Framed By The Killer (Oxygen, Fridays at 9), and One Deadly Mistake (Oxygen, Saturdays at 9), plus the return of An Unexpected Killer (Oxygen, Fridays at 8).

The new series Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer (Netflix, Wednesday) is about 1980s serial killer Richard Ramirez.

The one-off special Monster Preacher (Oxygen, Saturday, Jan. 16, at 7) focuses on the pastor Gary Heidnik who imprisoned six Black women for months, and “chained, tortured, raped and even killed in his effort to create a colony of sex slaves to have his offspring,” according to Oxygen’s horrifying description.

DNA, cocaine, and other specials

Have you sent your saliva and DNA to a company yet? I have! And maybe I should have watched Secrets in our DNA (PBS, Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 9) first. It’s about “how these revelations can change our lives, and also the unexpected consequences that can arise when the genetic data we have willingly turned over is used in ways we never imagined,” according to PBS’s NOVA.

Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy (Netflix, Monday) is about the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s, and how “the destructive effects on people’s lives, families and communities are still deeply felt,” according to Netflix.

The Codebreaker (PBS, Monday, Jan. 11, at 9) tells the story of the cryptanalyst Elizabeth Smith Friedman who PBS says “helped bring down Al Capone and break up a Nazi spy ring in South America.”

Inside the Mind of Agatha Christie (PBS, Sunday, Jan. 17, at 10) has what PBS calls “rare access to Agatha’s family, her personal archive and speaking to those who know her work best.”

That’s everything on my list. Enjoy whatever you watch this week!

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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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