A new week is upon us, which means it’s a new opportunity to watch new TV. People may say to you, “Are you sitting around and watching TV again?” And all you have to say is, “Yes, but it’s new TV.” That’s it. That’s all you have to say. You have now owned that person and can get back to watching TV undisturbed, knowing that you are the victor in that battle of wits.
This week’s picks include a TV show about a TV show, which is one of my favorite genres of television. It’s like one of those old Xzibit memes from Pimp My Ride. “Yo dawg, I heard you like TV shows, so I put a TV show in your TV show.” I miss that meme. But why stop there? Give me a TV show about a TV show about a TV show, and let me get three times the TV content in one sitting. Boy, do I love TV. Can’t get enough of it.
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Series premiere Sunday at 10/9c on AMC
One of my favorite movies of all time is 1994’s Quiz Show, which stars Ralph Fiennes as a man who competes on a Jeopardy!-like game show and gets illegally groomed by the producers — answers to the questions included — to become their recurring champion to boost ratings. There’s a lot of similarity with AMC’s Quiz, but the difference is the contestants form the cheating ring and the producers are none the wiser. Well, at least initially. Quiz is also based on a true story; in 2001, Charles Ingram, along with his sister and her husband, devised a plan to win the big prize in the UK’s massive new hit series Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, leading to a criminal trial that became a huge story overseas. Quiz is an incredibly entertaining three-episode miniseries, and it not only covers the scandal, but the development of the show as well, for those of you who like to see what goes on behind the scenes. It’s also fun, and still manages to capture the tension of the game show even though you know what’s going to happen. As a bonus, the inimitable Michael Sheen stars as the host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, and he’s great as always.
Series finale Sunday at 9/8c on Starz
Starz‘s Vida is one of TV’s best-kept secrets, a heartwarming and singular story about two Latinx sisters, Mishel Prada‘s Emma and Melissa Barrera‘s Lyn, grieving and growing in L.A. The underappreciated drama is closing out its three-season run with Sunday’s series finale, which will find the sisters grappling with how to move forward after Lyn reestablished contact with their father despite Emma’s demands not to. –Sadie Gennis
Season 2 premiere Tuesday at 9/8c on USA
One of the most surprisingly fun debuts of last year was the first season of the true crime anthology Dirty John, which starred Connie Britton as a victim of a con man played by Eric Bana. It teetered on the tightrope between sensationalism and terror, like if a Lifetime movie had a baby with a critically acclaimed true crime documentary, and somehow it worked. That slippery tone continues in Season 2, which stars Amanda Peet, fresh off a fantastic run on Brockmire, as Betty Broderick, a housewife who [spoiler] murders her ex-husband (Christian Slater) and his wife (Rachel Keller) in 1989. The ’80s backdrop adds a welcome contrasting tone to the brutality of the murders, and the story does its best to explain how Broderick got to the point of committing murder on her philandering husband, without fully defending it. It’s also one of Peet’s best performances.
Spelling the Dream
Wednesday on Netflix
This charming, c-h-a-r-m-i-n-g, charming documentary about young kids participating in the Scripps National Spelling Bee will make you feel inspired… or lazy. Four Indian-American children are followed as they go through the ups and downs of preparing for the big competition, which often involves hours and hours of memorization and more drive and determination than any of us have. Seeing these kids sacrifice so much for a single goal and put their limits to the test will give you hope for the future. Well, their future, not yours.
Season 5 premieres Friday on Netflix
Queer Eye returns for its fifth season in two-and-a-half years today. It feels like it’s been around for a decade, doesn’t it? But the reboot only premiered in February 2018. It achieved cultural institution status incredibly quickly. Anyway, Season 5 will find the Fab Five of Karamo, Tan, Bobby, Jonathan, and Antoni heading to Philadelphia to help fix the lives of some nice people who are having some trouble. And since this season will have 10 episodes instead of the usual eight, we’d recommend you get an even bigger box of tissues than usual. –Liam Mathews
The Stars of SpongeBob Fan Favorites Special
Friday at 7/6c on Nickelodeon
There isn’t a whole lot more traumatizing to a child than seeing the voice of their favorite cartoon character come out of a human mouth, but for parents, watching a kid freak out is hilarious, and you can get a taste of it on Friday night. Lots of shows are doing cast reunions as the pandemic has forced us into self-isolation, but I don’t know if any will be as fun as the SpongeBob SquarePants voice actors performing iconic scenes from the series. Tom Kenny (SpongeBob), Clancy Brown (Mr. Krabs), Bill Fagerbakke (Patrick), and more will enthusiastically act out scenes voted on by fans, including the F.U.N. song. The special will be hosted by Dave Dobrik, who I’m told is some sort of popular guy on the YouTubes.
Stop searching, start watching! TV Guide’s Watch This Now! page has even more TV recommendations.