From wild animated aunts to reality returns, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week
1. Chicago Party Aunt – Netflix
NetflixIn all the years of TV animation, it must be said that it’s a real rarity for a cartoon to be based on a real person. We’re not talking about a celebrity, mind you, but an actual person. A normal, everyday person. And indeed, the “Chicago Party Aunt” is a non-celebrity... unless you consider Twitter fame equitable to real-world fame, that is. Actually, if we’re honest, she’s not all that “real,” either. She’s more a parody account... and by “she,” we mean Chris Witaske, since he’s actually the comedy writer behind the account. Boy, our entire intro just came apart at the seams there, didn’t it? Let’s just set all that aside and talk about Chicago Party Aunt, a new Netflix series which stars Canadian Superstore alum Lauren Ash. She voices Diane Dunbrowski, a diehard Windy City sports fan who loves her hometown, loves to drink beer and eat meat, and—to use a phrase straight from the Netflix press release—“continues to live every day like it’s a 1980s Styx tour bus.” As it happens, she also loves her gay nephew, Daniel (Rory O’Malley), who’s decided that he wants to experience a “gap year” before attending Stanford, and when he goes to visit Diane, she resolves to draw the kid out of his shell.
Other characters include Gideon (RuPaul Charles), a hairdresser who turns the local barbershop into a New York-style salon; Bonnie (Jill Talley), Diane’s younger, control-freak sister who’s really struggling when it comes to loosening the parental reins; Mark (Ike Barinholtz), Diane’s sweet but not exactly brilliant son; Tina (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), one of Gideon’s employees; Zuzana (Katie Rich), one of the other salon employees; and Witaske himself as Kurt, Diane’s ex-husband and Mark’s dad.
2. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime VideoInspired by true events, this movie musical follows Jamie New (Max Harwood), a teenager from the English town of Sheffield, who dreams of becoming a fierce and proud drag queen. His best friend (Lauren Patel) and his loving mum (Sarah Lancashire) shower him with support, while local drag legend Miss Loco Chanelle (Richard E. Grant) mentors him toward his debut stage performance. But Jamie also has to contend with ignorance and bias until he and his community find a way to inspire one another to overcome prejudice and be more accepting as he steps out of the darkness into the spotlight.
3. Reservation Dogs – Disney+
Disney+As Hollywood continues to respond to increasing calls for diversity, viewers have enjoyed stories told by new voices, from rarely seen perspectives—which certainly applies to Reservation Dogs.
On the one hand, the series—which is set (and filmed) within a First Nations reservation in eastern Oklahoma—is a classic coming-of-age comedy, following the exploits of four Indigenous teenagers as they struggle to find their respective places in the world and dream of leaving “the Rez.”
Yet there’s a lot more going on than just that. Thanks to series creators Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi (both of whom are Indigenous) and a history-making writers’ room staffed entirely by Indigenous scribes, Reservation Dogs is both wildly hilarious and deeply subversive, particularly in terms of blowing up tropes and stereotypes that are deeply rooted within pop culture, gleefully defanging and debunking them with humour.
Case in point: one of the teens, Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), hallucinates his spirit guide, a distant ancestor who died at Custer’s siege of Little Bighorn—not during battle, but when his horse accidentally fell on him before the fighting began.
During a session at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Harjo explained that he drew inspiration from his own teen years in rural Oklahoma, “where you have to create your own fun and actually have an imagination.”
In addition, the series’ all-Indigenous writing staff—which, Harjo reminded us, is something “that’s never been done before”—proved to be a secret weapon that “helped us not be afraid to, you know, go hard and tell the truth and also to be funny and sort of push the envelope... We were able to just go and write and try to make it the funniest, best... pull from our own experiences and make it real.”
4. 9-1-1 – Monday, September 20, 8 p.m., Fox; 11:35 p.m., Global | Season Premiere
GlobalThe valiant first responders of the 118 will have their hands full following a city-wide power outage. Don’t expect things to wrap up anytime soon either; this crisis will reportedly last at least three episodes and involve at least one pack of escaped zoo animals.
5. The Voice – Monday, September 20, 8 p.m., CTV & NBC | Season Premiere
CTVThe biggest singing competition on television is back for season 21. So pull up a chair next to coaches Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and new arrival Ariana Grande as they plunk themselves down in those red high-backs and hope to discover a voice that’ll spin them right ’round.
6. NCIS – Monday, September 20, 9 p.m., CBS; 12:35 a.m., Global | Season Premiere
GlobalStarting out as a humble JAG spinoff, over the past two decades this naval crime thriller has become a TV institution. And while plenty of prominent cast members have come and gone (Cote de Pablo, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette), one man has been there since the start: Mark Harmon.
Alas, Agent Gibbs, who seemingly faked his own death at the end of last year to go and hunt down a serial killer, will be taking a breather in season 19, playing a reduced role while veteran character actor Gary Cole (The Good Fight) joins the cast as a new series regular: grizzled FBI man Alden Park.
Meanwhile, Gibbs’ fellow agents Sloane (Maria Bello) and Bishop (Emily Wickersham) are leaving entirely. And as if that weren’t enough tumult, for the first time in the show’s history, it’s moving from Tuesdays to Mondays.
7. Our Kind of People – Tuesday, September 21, 9 p.m., CTV & Fox | Series Premiere
CTVWelcome to Oak Bluffs, the little corner of Martha’s Vineyard where Black America’s wealthiest come to play, and the people hired to tidy up after them also have to sweep a few scandals under the rug. The drama is actually based on Lawrence Otis Graham’s non-fiction tome Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class, but expect plenty of soap, given that it comes from Empire’s Lee Daniels. (Though the book itself features its share of stranger-than-fiction anecdotes, culled from six years of interviews with the obscenely wealthy.)
The story is told through the eyes of a single mother (Chicago Med alum Yaya DaCosta), an exceptionally driven woman who sets out to make an impact in Oak Bluffs with her revolutionary hair-care line that highlights the natural beauty of Black women. But when she discovers a shocking secret about her own mother and the people she used to work for, it sets her on a quest for truth and revenge.
The show is being sold as not only a steamy primetime soap, but an exploration of race and class in America, and a celebration of Black resilience and achievement.
8. The Masked Singer – Wednesday, September 22, 8 p.m., CTV & Fox | Season Premiere
CTVA pimped-out duck. A bedazzled hamster. A flirtatious, possibly bleeding cupcake. Those are a few of the costumes to expect this year. Ah, but which Hollywood stars are hiding inside?
9. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – Thursday, September 23, 8 p.m., City & NBC | Season Premiere
CityThe longest-running primetime drama in TV history—we’re on season 23 now—returns with a two-hour premiere, as Benson et al. continue dishing out justice to New York’s sexual predators—while no doubt occasionally crossing over with her old partner Elliot Stabler and his new Organized Crime unit.
10. The Starling – Friday, September 24, Netflix
NetflixMelissa McCarthy stars as Lily, a woman who’s grieving a major loss when she finds herself drawn into a battle with a territorial starling over dominion of her garden, offering an unlikely avenue through which to channel her grief, giving her the courage to heal relationships and rediscover her capacity for love.