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From Hemingway to The World’s Biggest Art Heist: this week’s reality TV premieres

Last week, there were more than 20 reality TV premieres, many of which were competition series. This week’s unscripted TV premieres are almost entirely documentary series and feature docs.

First, though, Netflix is kicking off wedding season with The Big Day (Netflix, Wednesday), which follows six couples who are getting married and spending lots of money, and Wedding Coach (Netflix, Wednesday), which sends “comedian Jamie Lee to “help couples survive the stressful, and sometimes ridiculous, expectations” that come with weddings, Netflix says.

Top Chef: Los Angeles contestant and chef Cliff Crooks helps chefs at actual restaurants by putting them “through a grueling series of challenges.” His show is called Chef Boot Camp (Food Network, Thursdays at 10).

Returning for new seasons are Wild ‘N Out (MTV, Tuesdays at 8) and Making Good (BYUtv, Wednesdays at 7:30 ET/4:30PT.

Okay, on to the documentary series!

Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s latest documentary series, Hemingway, airs over four nights this week (PBS, April 5 to 7 at 8). It’s about the writer Ernest Hemingway.

One thing the documentary explores, Novick said during a Television Critics Association virtual press conference, is how Hemingway’s “masculine persona gets in the way sometimes of seeing the work itself. And you think that what you see in his private life or his public life is what’s going to be on the page, and it just isn’t there. That’s just a big disconnect, and the film really shows that, and we really dug deeply into that.”

The People V. The Klan (CNN, Sundays at 9), is a series about Beulah Mae Donald, a Black mother who sued the Klan after her 19-year-old son was lynched and murdered by several Klan members.

This is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist (Netflix, Wednesday) tells the story of the heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston that remains unsolved.

The documentary Coded Bias premiered on PBS last month, and is now on Netflix. It’s about MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s discovery that facial recognition software wasn’t accurate at detecting darker-skinned people.

The documentary series about the Civil Rights movement Eyes on the Prize will stream free starting Saturday on PBS.org, WORLDChannel.org, and the PBS Video app.

The Oscar-nominated documentary short Hunger Ward is now streaming (Paramount+), and focuses on malnourished children in Yemen.

Journalist and former NPR host Diane Rehm looks at the right-to-die movement in When My Time Comes, which starts streaming (PBS.org, Wednesday) and then airs on TV (World Channel, Sunday, April 11, at 8).

Exterminate All the Brutes (HBO, Wednesday April 7, and Thursday, April 8, at 9) is a four-part series that’s “an expansive exploration of the exploitative and genocidal aspects of European colonialism, from America to Africa and its impact on society today,” HBO says.

First to the Top of the World (Discovery+, Thursday) is the story of the amateurs who took a 1968 journey to the North Pole.

American Masters looks at the neurologist and author Oliver Sacks: His Own Life (PBS, Friday, April 9, at 9).

Future People: The Family of Donor 5114 (Discovery+, Saturday) was produced by Jason Momoa and follows teenagers who are among the 37 half-siblings conceived from the same donor’s sperm.

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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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