From Pete Davidson’s quasi-autobiographical new comedy series to the farewell of NCIS: LA, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week
1. NCIS: Los Angeles – Sunday, May 21, Global & CBS | Series Finale
Back in 2009, ’90s kids everywhere were pumped to learn that LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell had signed deals to headline the first of what wound up being many NCIS spinoffs.
Now, 14 seasons and 323 episodes later, that journey comes to an end with the series finale. The action continues from last week, when an ATF agent went missing, and our naval detectives were set on the trail of some stolen military-grade tech. In this week’s big finish, the team continues to work the case with ATF, while Callen and Anna figure out what they really want from their wedding day. As previously reported, tonight’s episode airs an hour earlier than usual (at least on CBS) so that the network can send the series off with a one-hour retrospective special dubbed A Salute to NCIS: Los Angeles, airing at 10 p.m. on CBS and 12:32 a.m. on Global.
2. Wanda Sykes: I’m an Entertainer – Tuesday, May 23, Netflix
Comedian Wanda Sykes actually started her standup career back in 1987. She then got a big boost in profile when she popped up on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam in the early ’90s. But it wasn’t until 1997 that a gig as a writer/performer for The Chris Rock Show really helped her make a name for herself as an onscreen presence.
Since then, Sykes has done so much acting that it’s easy to forget she’s still first and foremost a standup comedian. Her latest special, I’m an Entertainer, was filmed in early February 2023 at the Miller Theater in Philadelphia, and finds her tackling a variety of rib-tickling topics, including the challenges of being a liberal in a hyper-charged political climate and being a parent to Gen Z teenagers.
Directed by Linda Mendoza, the special finds Sykes’ comedy chops as relatable and hilarious as ever.
3. The Ultimatum: Queer Love – Wednesday, May 23, Netflix | Series Premiere
Nobody does dating shows quite like Netflix, with its elaborate high-concept formats that both poke fun at the genre and push it into bold new territory. Debuting in 2022, The Ultimatum featured five longtime couples who needed to decide whether it was time to get married or move on. Season two delivers the same, but with a twist. This time, each couple is made up of women and nonbinary people. Yet just like in the first, one partner wants to get married, while the other isn’t sure. So, over the course of eight weeks, they have some hard talks and flirt with some other potential partners, eventually deciding whether to walk down the aisle, or walk away.
Another big shakeup this year: guiding participants through the I Dos and I Don’ts is JoAnna Garcia Swisher, who replaces outgoing hosts Nick and Vanessa Lachey.
4. Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars – Wednesday, May 23, CTV & Fox | Series Premiere
If you’re an aspiring chef or restaurateur looking for someone more seasoned to back your culinary endeavours, there are few better than Gordon Ramsay. The prolific, profane Michelin-star chef is among the biggest names in the world of food, and he’s got plenty of dough (so to speak). On that note, Ramsay is back with yet another competition series, this time putting $250,000 of his own fortune on the line.
Rather than cooking or baking or restaurant rehab, the goal here is to find an established food/beverage executive who has the drive and business sense to be worthy of a quarter-mil investment. Some of the inaugural contestants include the brains behind businesses like Fat Miilk, the Pepper app, Confetti Cakes baking kits, Snow Cone King, Happy Grub, Vegan AF, Pizza Girl, Smart Cups and Luther Bob’s.
Each week, these men and women are challenged in all aspects of running a food enterprise, including creating, marketing and selling to real customers.
“They will have to hustle through tough challenges, break through and set themselves apart from the other competition, and make noise to prove they have what it takes to be successful,” Ramsay explained to Variety.
5. American Born Chinese – Wednesday, May 24, Disney+ | Series Premiere
It’s fair to point out that the title American Born Chinese doesn’t do the greatest job at describing the amazing premise of this highly anticipated new Disney+ series. Indeed, after a panel during this past winter’s Television Critics Association press tour, several critics offered some semblance of the phrase, “I had no idea what this thing was about, but now I’m excited to check it out!”
And that’s as it should be, because anyone who’s actually seen the trailer knows that American Born Chinese feels like a middle ground between one of the streamer’s big-budget Marvel series and recent Oscar-sweeper Everything Everywhere All at Once—and not just because this also has a cast that includes two of that movie’s Oscar-winning stars, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan.
Based on a graphic novel of the same name by Gene Luen Yang, the series stars Ben Wang as Jin, an American teenager who finds his life turned completely upside down when he becomes friends with the son of a mythological Chinese god, opening the door to a secret world drawn from ancient legends.
As Disney+ describes it, “this is the story of a young man’s battle for his own identity, told through family, comedy and action-packed Kung-Fu.” What’s not to like?
“American Born Chinese came out in 2006, and to go from there to here is absolutely mind-blowing,” said Yang of his graphic novel at the aforementioned TCA panel. “I actually did American Born Chinese as a Xeroxed comic. So I would finish a chapter, I’d take it to my local Kinko’s—remember Kinko’s?—and I would Xerox copies, I would staple it by hand and I’d sell, like, 16 copies. It would be, like, 15 of my friends, and my mom would buy it. So to go from there to here is... it’s really crazy.”
6. The Flash – Wednesday, May 24, The CW | Series Finale
Not so long ago, The CW was absolutely overflowing with superheroes. However, when The Flash wraps its ninth and final season this week, it basically turns out the lights on the network’s so-called Arrow-verse. (Give or take a Superman & Lois.)
The abbreviated 13-episode outing has featured the usual roster of eccentric villains, plus a whole lot of former friends (including the Green Arrow himself Stephen Amell), popping by Central City to offer a quick goodbye to Barry and Team Flash. Though the Scarlet Speedster as a character has been mired in tragedy since day one (dating back to the death of his mother and wrongful imprisonment of his father), The Flash as a series has always been the Arrow-verse’s most hopeful. So can we expect Barry et al. to sprint off into the sunset footloose, fancy-free and... you know, not dead?
“I always wanted him to die a hero’s death, in a way,” leading man Grant Gustin teased to TVLine, before adding: “We wanted to see a happy ending for Barry and Iris. And ultimately, that is probably, looking back at this and as fans revisit it, how they’re going to want it to end.”
7. The Clearing – Wednesday, May 24, Disney+ | Series Premiere
Inspired by the chilling true story of Australian new-age cult The Family and its charismatic leader, Anne Hamilton-Byrne, this eight-part psychological thriller follows a woman who is forced to confront the nightmares of her past so she can stop the nefarious activities of a secret cult intent on gathering children to fulfill its master plan. Teresa Palmer (A Discovery of Witches), Miranda Otto (The Unusual Suspects, Homeland) and Guy Pearce (Jack Irish, Mare of Easttown) head the cast.
8. Bupkis – Thursday, May 25, Showcase | Series Premiere
In recent years, Saturday Night Live alum Pete Davidson has become better known for the string of famous women he’s dated (an impressive roster that includes Ariana Grande, Kate Beckinsale and Kim Kardashian) than his comedy skills, something he’s hoping to turn around with his first starring role on TV. Bupkis is described as “a heightened, fictionalized version” of Davidson’s real life that shares a superficial similarity to Curb Your Enthusiasm, but strikes a far more serious tone by exploring his difficulties coping with fame, his struggles with mental illness and the lingering impact of his firefighter father’s death on 9/11. Edie Falco plays his mom and Joe Pesci portrays his grandfather, while the star-studded list of guest stars includes Charlie Day, Brad Garrett, Ray Romano, Kenan Thompson, Jon Stewart, Steve Buscemi, Bobby Cannavale, John Mulaney, Machine Gun Kelly, Paul Walter Hauser, former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore and Davidson’s real-life girlfriend Chase Sui Wonders.
9. Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai – Friday, May 26, Cartoon Network | Series Premiere
This animated spinoff of the Gremlins movies takes viewers back to 1920s Shanghai, where young Sam Wing (future shop owner Mr. Wing in the 1984 film) meets a Mogwai called Gizmo, embarking on a perilous journey through the countryside to bring the creature home.
10. Platonic – Friday, May 26, Apple TV+ | Series Premiere
Just in case the title alone didn’t give away a certain amount of the premise, this new Apple TV+ series revolves around a platonic pair of best friends, Sylvia and Will, played by Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen (who previously showcased their comedic chemistry as big-screen spouses in Neighbors and its sequel). After their friendship took a nosedive thanks to Sylvia expressing her disapproval of Will’s wife, she learns through the grapevine that he’s recently divorced. Seeing an opportunity to heal the multi-year rift between them, Sylvia—who herself is happily married with three kids—is initially uncertain if there’s even a place for Will in her current life. Indeed, one of her friends (played by Carla Gallo) says outright in the trailer: “Your friendship with Will is not built for this phase of your life.” In fact, it quickly becomes evident this assessment is right on the money; at the same time, though, Sylvia admits to her husband (Killjoys’ Luke Macfarlane) that part of the reason her friendship with Will is so important is that “it’s embarrassing being a mess in front of you.”
As these two re-enter each other’s orbits, will they be able to find a middle ground where the friendship doesn’t somehow go off the rails and become a self-destructive dumpster fire? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, they’re going to have a whole lot of fun along the way.