From confounding whodunnits to Hollywood's biggest night, we round up the top 10 shows to watch this week
1. American Idol: Where the Stars Are Born — Sunday, February 9, 1 p.m., ABC
ABCWe’ve still got a week to go before Idol returns, but until then we can all sate ourselves with this behind-the-scenes special, spotlighting both the coming season and the overall appeal of this game-changing reality sing-off.
2. The Oscars — Sunday, February 9, 5 p.m., CTV & ABC
CTVWhen it comes to celebrating achievements in film, who needs a host? Step aside, Billy Crystal! Grab a seat, Jimmy Kimmel! Taking the stage to introduce the crown jewel of awards shows this year is... once again... no one. “Together with the Academy, we’ve decided that there will be no traditional host again this year, repeating what worked for us last year: huge entertainment value, big musical numbers, big comedy and star power,” says Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment. “We have another very commercial set of nominations, and a lot of incredible elements have already come together that have convinced us that we’re going to have an incredibly entertaining show again.”
Burke is not wrong in repeating last year’s experiment. After an all-time low in 2018, ratings increased by 3.1 million last year, reversing a four-year decline. Much of that was thanks to a sexually charged musical-number-gone-viral from A Star Is Born duo Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, a head-banging show-opener from Queen and Adam Lambert, and a positively stunned Olivia Colman taking the stage to accept her Best Actress plaudit and giving one of the most hilarious speeches in Oscar history.
This year, the musical performances ought to be just as spectacular, as artists Elton John (Rocketman), Idina Menzel (Frozen II), This Is Us’s Chrissy Metz (Breakthrough), Randy Newman (Toy Story 4) and Cynthia Erivo, the star of Harriet who’s poised to become the youngest EGOT (Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony) winner of all time, take the stage to belt out the nominees for Best Original Song.
3. Homeland — Sunday, February 9, 8 p.m, Crave1 | Season Premiere
CraveThe Emmy-winning terrorism thriller has been such a staple, it’s tough to envision the TV landscape without it. And yet, here we are, with the final season. Join Carrie and Saul as they’re sent to Kabul to broker peace with the Taliban—despite Carrie still being haunted by her hellish stay in that Russian gulag.
4. Power — Sunday, February 9, 2 a.m., Starz 2 | Series Finale
StarzThere are whodunnits and then there are half-season arcs that basically have our hearts hurting as we try and figure out what the hell happened to a beloved character. Power definitely checks that latter box as we head into the series-ender this week, and we all learn the identity of the person responsible for Ghost becoming... well, a ghost.
The Internet remains divided over who pulled that trigger, and the ending is anyone’s guess since the creative team filmed multiple versions to guard against spoilers.
In the meantime, at least we know this isn’t the true end of the franchise: a Mary J. Blige-starring spinoff is in the works, hopefully offering us the exact same sort of gritty soap-operatics.
5. The Conners — Tuesday, February 11, 8 p.m., CTV & ABC
CTVThere was always going to be some uncertainty about whether the cast of Roseanne could—without the show’s titular star—successfully keep their ensemble together as The Conners, but we’re now into season two, and the hilarity is still alive and kicking.
In fact, not only is the series still alive, but this week’s episode is actually a live episode, and it’s no coincidence that the proceedings are taking place on the same day as the New Hampshire primaries—a pivotal juncture for the upcoming U.S. presidential election. As far as the plotline of the episode, all that’s been released by ABC as of this writing is that Dan’s new love interest, Louise (Katey Sagal), has been offered a job out of town, so they’re throwing her a going-away party. That said, there’ll undoubtedly be a political aspect to the evening; exactly what form it’ll take, however, remains to be seen.
6. For Life — Tuesday, February 11, 10 p.m., CTV & ABC | Series Premiere
CTVIn 1991, Isaac Wright, Jr. was sentenced to life in prison—wrongfully convicted of being a drug kingpin. For the next two decades, he fought to clear his name, studying law and overseeing his own appeal. As a prison paralegal, he won freedom and reduced sentences for more than 20 of his fellow inmates before finally managing to free himself. Once released, Wright continued his journey by completing law school, passing the bar exam and becoming a practising lawyer.
Wright’s amazing story is the inspiration behind For Life, a fictionalized drama about wrongly convicted Aaron Wallace (Nicholas Pinnock), who studies the law and takes on the cases of others who were imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit.
One of the series’ producers is rapper 50 Cent (also exec producer of the Starz hit Power), who revealed during a session at the Television Critics Association press tour that he came to meet Wright when he and his partners were trying to promote a boxing match in Las Vegas and ran into some legal difficulties. With their lawyers getting nowhere, someone recommended Wright—who sorted out the mess immediately. Once he learned about Wright’s remarkable path from convict to lawyer, the rapper knew he had to tell it on the screen, and eventually found the right writing team to do justice to the story.
Wright said he was pleased with the way his life is being portrayed on the show, even if it is in a fictionalized manner. “The uniqueness of what For Life is bringing to the audience, that hope and that inspiration that we don’t have to continue to be victims of the system, that we can be a part of the system in good and better ways, that story that For Life is bringing is going to be unique for television in any way that you can view it,” he said. “It’s going to be a unique experience for the audience.”
7. Mad About You — Tuesday, February 11, 10 p.m. & 10:30 p.m., CTV Comedy | Season Finale
CTV ComedyThis sitcom redux didn’t quite set the TV world on fire the way stars Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser may have hoped, but you can’t fault the new iteration of Mad About You for skimping on the nostalgia. In this season finale, Paul and Jamie struggle to plan a surprise birthday party for now-grown daughter Mabel (Abby Quinn). What the Buchmans don’t realize, however, is that Mabel is the one who has a surprise for them—and it’s a big one.
8. To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You — Wednesday, February 12, Netflix
We can’t think of a better time than the week of Valentine’s Day for the arrival of this much-anticipated sequel to one of Netflix’s most popular original movies. The coming-of-age romance made headlines not only for its sweet, well-executed story, but for finally presenting a person of Asian descent in a leading role.
In her star-making turn, Lana Condor proved utterly relatable and endearing as Lara Jean, the teen whose life changes when the secret love letters she wrote to various boys suddenly become public.
When first we drop back into Lara’s world, all seems well. She’s finally gotten past her awkward ways and gone on her first real date, as she and Peter (Noah Centineo) finally take their relationship to that “official” next level. But then the object of one of her other letters, John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher), resurfaces to complicate matters, and Lara finds herself wondering exactly where her heart lays.
9. Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens — Wednesday, February 12, 7:30 p.m. & 10:30 p.m., Much
MuchGiven the success of Awkwafina’s movie career over such a short amount of time—Ocean’s 8! Crazy Rich Asians! The Farewell! Jumanji!—it may be surprising to some that she’d take an ostensible step back to star in her own TV series. Not that there’s much stigma attached to moving back and forth between film and television nowadays, but as it happens, Awkwafina (real name: Nora Lum) signed the deal for this series right after she was cast in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, so we’re talking four years between conception and fruition.
“My trajectory doesn’t make any sense,” she admitted to the New York Times last month. “I have no idea if [all this success] is literally going to end tomorrow. I want to do this sitcom for that reason. It was something that was on the radar and that I wanted to finish.” As you might’ve guessed, there’s a great deal of autobiography in Nora from Queens, if a slightly exaggerated version of such, but it follows Nora as she figures out her life and career with the assistance of her father (B.D. Wong), grandmother (Lori Tan Chinn) and cousin (Bowen Yang).
It’s been a few weeks now since Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens made its debut, but it’s already arguably the hottest sitcom of 2020. Yes, we know, the year’s only just begun, but given that Awkwafina just won a Golden Globe for her performance in The Farewell and her series has already scored a pickup for a second season... well, if that ain’t hot, we don’t know what is.
10. A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon — Friday, February 14, Netflix
NetflixThe latest stop-motion animated comedy from Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park finds the titular sheep befriending an extraterrestrial, which involves helping her track down her missing spaceship while keeping his new pal safe from a sinister government agency.