What to Watch This Week: January 30 to February 4

From challenging docs to '90s scandals, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week

From challenging docs to ’90s scandals, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week

1. The Gig Is Up – Sunday, January 30, 8 p.m., CBC

As millions of workers are drawn into the so-called “gig economy” in order to earn extra cash delivering food or driving for ride-share apps, this probing documentary looks at the real human cost that’s been fuelling this tech revolution. Attracted by the promise of flexible work hours, independence and control over time and money, people around the world have discovered a very different reality than what was promised, encountering work conditions that are frequently dangerous, pay that often changes without notice, and the constant threat of being fired through deactivation or receiving a bad rating from a customer.

2. We Need to Talk About Bill Cosby – Sunday, January 30, 9 p.m., Crave1 | Series Premiere

Has any popular entertainer fallen from grace harder and faster than Bill Cosby? This four-part docuseries from The United Shades of America‘s W. Kamau Bell examines the circumstances that led the beloved comedian and iconic sitcom dad to become a Hollywood pariah when he was sent to prison after being found guilty of sexual assault, amidst scores of similar accusations from dozens of women. Bell, a comedian who has admitted he was greatly influenced by Cosby, explores the cultural impact that the star of The Cosby Show had on Black America as a whole throughout his career, pondering whether the ugly truth that Cosby concealed for decades negates that impact. Bell weighs Cosby’s actions against his indisputable global influence through interviews with comedians, cultural commentators, journalists and women who share their most personal, harrowing encounters with a man alleged to have abused the trust he’d established with the public in his secret life as a serial sexual predator.

“As a child of Bill Cosby, I was a huge fan of all his shows and wanted to be a comedian because of him,” said Bell in a statement. “I never thought I’d ever wrestle with who we all thought Cosby was and who we now understand him to be. I’m not sure he would want me to do this work, but Cliff Huxtable definitely would.”

3. The Real Housewives of New Jersey – Tuesday, February 1, 5 p.m. & 8 p.m., Slice | Season Premiere

Just when you thought summer couldn’t get any hotter, the Housewives arrive. We know,
we know: “Summer?!” And indeed, despite the fact that we’re still in the dead of winter, season 12 of this spinoff was feelin’ the heat… and beyond just the weather, you can thank Teresa Giudice for that, as the OG cast member draws the catty ire of her castmates, courtesy her relationship with new fiancé Luis “Louie” Ruelas. That of course puts Teresa on the defensive, and as the old saying goes, the best defence is whole lots of screaming, dish-throwing and… well, the previews don’t feature a redux of that infamous table flip from years ago, but she sure does come close! (We suppose that’s what “nasty” Margaret Josephs gets for trying to destroy her “love bubble?”)

Add in the fact that Joe Gorga is once again going off on Teresa’s ex, Joe Giudice (in front of her kids, no less), and it feels like it’s T against the world this year.

Beyond that, Jennifer Aydin and husband Dr. Bill are also put through the wringer when we return, as a result of rumours that he cheated on her. “[If he] doesn’t want to be in this marriage, he doesn’t need to do me any favours,” Jennifer bluntly states in the preview. That won’t be the only strife for our Jen though, not when Melissa Gorga takes their feud from verbal to physical. (Oh Jersey, don’t ever change!) Delores Catania and Jackie Goldschneider are also back this season, joined by new “friend” of the cast, Traci Johnson, whose husband is former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber.

4. Pam & Tommy – Wednesday, February 2, Disney+ | Series Premiere

The turbulent relationship of one of the most popular/notorious celebrity couples of the 1990s is being brought to the screen in Pam & Tommy, a new limited series streaming on Disney+.

Starring Lily James (Yesterday) as B.C.-born Baywatch star Pamela Anderson and Sebastian Stan (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) as Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, the series—“based on a true scandal,” according to the Disney+ press release—looks back on the couple’s brief-but-tumultuous marriage, which began 96 hours after their first date. Divorced three years later, highlights of their union included allegations of violence and drug use, Lee’s arrest on charges of spousal abuse, and the leaked sex tape at the heart of this series.

In addition to Anderson hailing from B.C., a further connection to the province comes with the show’s production company, Point Grey, launched by Vancouver natives Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.

Rogen also has a key role in the drama, playing Rand Gauthier, a former porn star and son of actor Dick Gauthier, best known for playing Hymie the robot on sitcom Get Smart. At the time, Gauthier had moved on from porn and was working as an electrician, hired by Lee to install a security system and recording studio in the couple’s Malibu home. After Lee allegedly threatened Gauthier with a shotgun during a drug-fuelled rage, the disgruntled electrician stole Lee’s safe, containing the couple’s private tapes.

In addition, Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black) plays Gauthier’s then-wife, porn star Erica Gauthier, while Parks and Recreation‘s Nick Offerman appears as Milton Ingley, a.k.a. Uncle Miltie, the flamboyant, larger-than-life porn impresario responsible for bringing the couple’s X-rated shenanigans from the privacy of their bedroom to home video and the Internet.

5. The Tinder Swindler – Wednesday, February 2, Netflix

The filmmakers behind Don’t F**k With Cats are back with this chilling documentary about Israeli con man Shimon Hayut, who bilked millions from vulnerable women he met on dating apps by posing as a billionaire playboy. Luring his prey with lavish gifts and trips on private jets, the women didn’t realize they were part of his ongoing pyramid scheme in which the money scammed from previous victims was spent to entice new ones. After managing to gain his victims’ trust, Hayut concocted fanciful tales of threats from enigmatic enemies, convincing his victims to open huge lines of credit to fund him temporarily with promises of payback via fund transfers that never arrived.

6. Big Brother: Celebrity Edition – Starting Wednesday, February 2, 8 p.m., Global & CBS | Season Premiere

Actress Marissa Jaret Winokur and singer Tamar Braxton will soon have some company in the vaunted Celeb Big Brother winners’ circle. After debuting in 2018 and airing a second season in 2019, the series has been on a lengthy pandemic hiatus, just now returning for season three. If rumours are true, host Julie Chen has been pushing for this return for a while now, trying to convince the powers-that-be that another A-list edition during COVID makes sense, because more potential contestants would be at home as opposed to off filming. As of press time, those contestants hadn’t yet been announced, but we do know the show will, as usual, air on an almost-nightly basis from February 2nd through to the finale on February 23rd; and once again, it’s being positioned by CBS as counter-programming to the Olympics, as was the case back in 2018.

7. And Just Like That… – Thursday, February 3, Crave1 | Season Finale

Fans of Sex and the City tuned in en masse to catch up with Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) as they navigate their 50s. Now the first season concludes. No official word on whether a second season is in the cards, but it seems likely given the buzz that’s been generated.

8. Murderville – Thursday, February 3, Netflix | Series Premiere

No matter what sorts of programs or films Canadian treasure Will Arnett has found himself in over the years (Arrested Development, The Brothers Solomon, BoJack Horseman), the man has consistently proven himself capable of adapting his comedic style to match whatever’s required. But if we’re being honest, we never imagined we’d see him stepping into the shoes of a homicide detective.

Then again, Murderville isn’t what you’d call a typical cop show: it’s an adaptation of BBC Three series Murder in Successville, and it finds Arnett playing Terry Seattle, a cop who teams up with a different celebrity each episode—the guest star in question serving as his new detective “trainee” and tasked with solving the case of the week. So what makes it funny? The whole affair is improvised… or at least, the celebrity’s side of things is.

Over the course of six episodes, viewers will be treated to Arnett sparring comedic with Conan O’Brien, Schitt’s Creek Emmy-winner Annie Murphy, Ken Jeong, Kumail Nanjiani, NFL legend Marshawn Lynch and Sharon Stone. No, not all of these individuals are necessarily known for their improv, but you’d be surprised how well they manage to hold their own.

9. Reacher – Friday, February 4, Prime Video | Series Premiere

Alan Ritchson (Titans) takes over the role popularized by Tom Cruise on the big screen for an eight-episode adaptation of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels. Here, the hulking ex-military investigator travels to Margrave, Georgia, only to discover the idyllic town is riddled with corruption, and the local cops are in need of his physical and observational skills.

10. Suspicion – Friday, February 4, Apple TV+ | Series Premiere

What did it take to bring Uma Thurman back to television following her participation in dead-on-arrival series like The Slap and Chambers? That would be a streaming service project with a big budget, a high concept and a proven track record. Based on an award-winning Israeli drama called False Flag, this thriller features Thurman as a prominent American businesswoman whose son is kidnapped from a New York City hotel.

Authorities quickly set their sights on four seemingly ordinary British citizens who also happened to be staying there on that fateful night. Before they know it, these folks are catapulted into a life-altering game of cat-and-mouse with the National Crime Agency and the FBI, who have teamed up to capture them. Can they prove their innocence and figure out who’s really behind the abduction, or will their fates be sealed by being in the wrong place at the wrong time? The stacked ensemble cast includes Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory), Noah Emmerich (The Americans), Georgina Campbell (Black Mirror), Elyes Gabel (Scorpion), Elizabeth Henstridge (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Tom Rhys-Harries (White Lines) and Angel Coulby (Dancing on the Edge).

Meanwhile, the story is being adapted for North American audiences by showrunner Rob Williams, who served as a writer on the first two seasons of Prime Video’s The Man in the High Castle. Apple TV+ drops the first two episodes this Friday, with a weekly release schedule to follow.

Thurman fans should take note this isn’t the only time we’ll be seeing the actor in a high-profile TV role this year. She’s also filming the much-anticipated Showtime miniseries Super Pumped about disgraced Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, in which Thurman will play Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington.