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From timely comedy imports to Canadian music legends, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week
HGTVComedian Retta (Parks and Recreation) is back for a second season of this HGTV hit in which she travels across the U.S. to tour properties nominated by their owners as the ugliest house around. After crowning the worst of the worst, designer Alison Victoria surprises the homeowners with a $150,000 renovation guaranteed to beautify even the gnarliest abode.
NetflixCanadian country music superstar Shania Twain is the subject of this doc from filmmaker Josh Crowley, who’s previously turned his lens on such musicians as producer Mark Ronson and Deep Purple guitarist Richie Blackmore. “From Nashville newcomer to international icon, singer Shania Twain transcends genres across borders amid triumphs and setbacks in this documentary,” reads the official Netflix synopsis for the feature-length film, which traces Twain’s rise to the top of the Billboard charts as she racked up an impressive roster of mainstream hits that transcended the boundary between country and pop.
NBCWelcome to what would happen if you took Survivor, added a hint of Big Brother and deployed the psychological torment of Naked and Afraid. In a special preview instalment ahead of the proper August premiere, host Bobby Bones introduces a competition that is basically exactly what it sounds like. Four players are dropped into the wild for 36 hours for a chance to win $100,000. In order to do so, these contestants must accomplish two things: survive in the remote and rugged Central American jungle, and figure out which one among them is the “snake” undermining their efforts at every turn.
Along the way, the group competes in a series of challenges, like retrieving puzzle pieces suspended on high wires over a 500-foot canyon or scaling cliffs to solve puzzles. Every time they complete a challenge, they receive another clue to help them identify the snake. At the same time, the snake is doing whatever he or she can to sabotage the other players and ultimately keep the prize money for themselves.
Disney+The East High Wildcats are back and this time they’re headed to the great outdoors. Or more specifically, to Camp Shallow Lake in California. There, the teens are all amped up for summer romances and curfew-free nights, not to mention a brand-new musical production. This time around, they’re tackling Disney’s Frozen.
Most of the original cast are back, including Olivia Rodrigo, who has enjoyed quite a bit of solo success on the pop-music charts lately (to say the least); that said, she and co-stars Kate Reinders and Olivia Rose Keegan are now “recurring” (i.e. part-time). Someone else expected to pop by this semester is original High School Musical star Corbin Bleu, who played Chad Danforth and will reprise the part in a guest-starring role. “I knew that if I was to ever return, it would need to be under the right circumstances, and I’m happy to say the boxes are being checked!” he confirmed on Instagram earlier this year.
CraveFollowing in the wake of The Perfectionists and Ravenswood, this third Pretty Little Liars spinoff features a whole new cast of characters, in a whole new town, with a whole new murder mystery to solve. Loosely based on the mothership series (and thus the series of novels written by Sara Shepard), the primetime soap hails from Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, well-known for his knowingly absurd narratives. In other words, brace yourself for anything and everything when the first three episodes debut this week, before settling into a one-per-week schedule.
On Friday, we’ll meet a slew of fresh-faced Li’l Liars (played by Bailee Madison, Chandler Kinney, Zaria, Malia Pyles and Maia Reficco) and their parents, the latter of whom were involved in tragic events two decades prior that almost ripped the small town of Millwood apart. Now, in the present-day, their teen kids are suddenly tormented by an unknown Assailant (a.k.a. “A”), who is hell-bent on making the girls pay for the dark deeds of their moms and dads.
“We’re such huge fans of what [showrunner] Marlene King and her iconic cast created, we knew that we had to treat the original series as #canon and do something different,” Aguirre-Sacasa teased in a statement. “So we’re leaning into the suspense and horror in this reboot, which hopefully will honour what the fans loved about the hit series, while weaving in new, unexpected elements.”
It’s being dubbed a twisted “coming-of-rage” story set firmly within the PLL universe, which means we can also potentially expect cameos from some OG cast members as the episodes unfold. “We love the idea that [original setting] Rosewood exists,” Aguirre-Sacasa also told Entertainment Weekly. “We reference it. There are Easter eggs throughout the season.”
Sundance NowThe recent overturn of Roe v. Wade in the U.S. has left many reeling, but the States isn’t the only country dealing with such issues. Based on real-life events, this U.K. drama traces the poignant, complex stories of three women and their loved ones in Northern Ireland leading up to 2019, when the country’s restrictive abortion laws were finally overturned after a hard-fought campaign.
Apple TV+In 1993, author Paula Danzinger released Amber Brown Is Not a Crayon, the first in an ongoing series of novels about a pre-teen girl dealing with her parents’ divorce. After a run of nine adventures, it seemed as though Amber’s story had come to a close in 2004 due to the death of Danzinger. But the books were revived in 2012 with the help of her fellow authors Bruce Coville and Elizabeth Levy, Danzinger’s best friends.
Now, Amber’s been reborn yet again with the debut of this Apple original series, starring Carsyn Rose as the titular character and Sarah Drew (late of Grey’s Anatomy) as her doting mom. In addition to the aforementioned divorce, Amber is also grappling with her best friend moving away, but here’s the good news: she’s very good at expressing herself through art, as well as her video diary. Plus, she’s just found a new friend named Brandi.
Given the popularity of these books, you can probably count on Amber Brown turning into a big deal in TV land, too.
CBC GemOdd as it is for most folks to imagine that someone could be unwittingly with child, it does happen. Heck, there are literally four—count ’em, four!—seasons of a reality show called I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. We’re talking 58 episodes… and that’s a whole lotta people who didn’t know they were pregnant. But of course, it’s one thing to do a trashy TLC docuseries based on this unfortunate life experience; it’s quite another to turn the concept into a sitcom. On that note, we give you Bump.
Set at a high school in the Inner West of Sydney, this Aussie series from co-creators Claudia Karvan and Kelsey Munro revolves around Olympia “Oly” Chalmers (Nathalie Morris), an ambitious high school student who abruptly gives birth without ever having had the slightest idea that she was in the family way.
“[Kelsey’s] original idea was sort of loosely based on a friend of hers whose teenager had a baby very young,” Karvan told the Australian website Nine. “This is obviously a cryptic pregnancy, so our lead character… goes to the toilet block with a stomach ache and ends up with a baby, and it’s about how this blindsides her, her family and the family of the boy whose baby it is.”
Oh, and did we mention that the father isn’t Oly’s boyfriend? Fun! Except not really, since it means that there’s a major learning curve when it comes to co-parenting and in-law mingling.
This week brings the second season to CBC Gem, so you’ll obviously want to backtrack and watch season one if this is the first you’ve heard of it. Otherwise, know that year two continues to explore the trials of adolescent motherhood and Oly’s complex relationship with her baby daddy, Santi (Carlos Sanson, Jr.).
Apple TV+Buckle up for this eight-episode thriller created by Veronica West (High Fidelity) and produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine label. Set in high-end San Francisco, Gugu Mbatha-Raw (who also executive produces) stars as Sophie, a woman who has suffered a traumatic head injury that’s left her with extreme memory loss, believed to be a result of a suicide attempt. As Sophie embarks on a quest to put the pieces of her life back together with the help of her husband and friends, she begins to question whether or not the truth she is told is in fact the truth she has lived. Through twists and turns and an unexpected love triangle, this sexy, elevated thriller asks: What if you woke up one day and didn’t know your own secrets? Ultimately, Surface takes viewers on an unpredictable journey of self-discovery that contemplates whether we are pre-programmed to become who we are or if we can actually choose our own identity. Also starring Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Stephan James, Ari Graynor, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, François Arnaud and Millie Brady.
NetflixIt’s safe to say that there haven’t been many Hollywood careers quite like that of Neil Patrick Harris, from a childhood spent playing a teen doctor on Doogie Howser, M.D. to spoofing himself in the Harold & Kumar movies to nine seasons as lovable lothario Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother—during which he came out as openly gay, got married and started a family with husband David Burtka.
Harris returns to the small screen in Uncoupled, a new romantic comedy created by Jeffrey Richman (Modern Family, Frasier) and exec-produced by Darren Star (Emily in Paris, Sex and the City).
Harris stars as Michael, a married gay man in his mid-40s whose world implodes when his husband (Tuc Watkins) abruptly walks out on their 17-year marriage. Initially blindsided, Michael eventually comes to embrace his singleness as he hurls himself back out onto a now-unfamiliar NYC dating scene.
Michael leans on his friends: Suzanne Prentiss (Martin’s Tisha Campbell), a high-powered real-estate agent and his business partner; Claire Lewis (Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden), an elegant and wealthy art collector who is currently divorcing her husband; Billy Jackson (Emerson Brooks, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), a celebrity TV weatherman and one of Michael’s closest friends; and Stanley James (Brooks Ashmanskas, Julie & Julia), an art dealer and longtime pal.
As Harris mused in a recent interview with Out, a TV series starring a gay actor playing a gay character is hardly controversial more than two decades after Queer as Folk and Will & Grace blazed that trail. Uncoupled, he explained, is “groundbreaking, I suppose, because it’s not, if that makes any sense… It’s a lovely time to be able to make this kind of content without feeling like it’s taboo or feeling like it’s scandalous.”