2016 is already off to a busy start with tons of great new shows premiering this week and next, and while I’m out in Pasadena for the winter Television Critics Association press tour, networks are rolling out the red carpet for dozens of new and returning programs slated to air over the next few months. Each day I’ll recap a handful (or so) of shows that are worth taking out on a first date.
TEACHERS and YOUNGER (Premieres Wednesday, January 13th)
TVLand has spent the past year attempting a giant rebrand of the network. Out are the older-skewing shows like HOT IN CLEVELAND, which has been replaced with younger aimed shows like IMPASTOR and THE JIM GAFFIGAN SHOW. While it seemed like a silly decision it has actually earned the network one of its most recent hits, YOUNGER. The Sutton Foster-lead comedy about a 40-year old woman trying to restart her life as a 27-year old publishing assistant is addictive and charming. It is an uncomfortable watch, at times, when Eliza constantly struggles to keep the truth from many in her life, but it always pays off.
The second season of YOUNGER picks up right where the first left off – with Eliza’s secret unraveling – premieres Wednesday, January 13th along with freshman women-behaving-badly comedy TEACHERS. The two, on the surface, are odd bedfellows, but they actually compliment each other with dark characters who can’t help but make audiences laugh.
NOT SAFE WITH NIKKI GLASER (Premieres Tuesday, February 9th)
Comedian Nikki Glaser takes another stab at hosting a talk show (she had a failed show on MTV), but this time she is going for the “V”. NOT SAFE WITH NIKKI GLASER is all about sex and the role it plays in all our lives. The funny lady has zero filter, which makes her great to watch and easy to root for. In the shadow of INSIDE AMY SCHUMER, Nikki continues Comedy Central’s appreciated pivot towards women with her smart, biting, and hilarious show.
UNREAL (Premieres Summer 2016)
UNREAL takes place on the set of a BACHELOR-esque reality series, but follows the manipulative actions of the producers behind the scenes. Shiri Appleby stars as Rachel, a producer who is gunning for the last bachelorette standing while trying to keep her anxiety and depression under control. The show could easily slip into the outlandish, but it is grounded in a reality that will make you question your own viewing of your favorite reality guilty pleasure.
During the second season, which is scheduled for this summer, Rachel and Quinn (Constance Zimmer) are back pulling the strings on a new group of contestants who have no idea what those two devilish women have in store for them. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the first season of Lifetime’s dark comedy you will get your chance starting February 3rd when the entire season begins streaming on Hulu.
WAR & PEACE (Premieres Monday, January 18th)
I have never read WAR & PEACE and I have zero plans to do so, but thank goodness for those who have because now we get a brand-new, gorgeously produced television adaptation of the Russian epic. The four-part miniseries will air weekly across three networks (History Channel, Lifetime, and A&E) beginning Monday, January 18th. Spanning decades, WAR & PEACE is sumptuous and perfect for all of us who truly believe all classic, truly romantic loves must end in war and death.
HE NAMED ME MALALA (Premieres Monday, February 29th)
National Geographic Channel will air the award-winning documentary HE NAMED ME MALALA on the last day of February. The film details the circumstances that lead to Malala Yousafzai horrific shooting, recovery, and her continued efforts to be the voice of young Pakistani women who deserve educations. She has been lauded for bravery and perseverance, and while the documentary does highlight her role as a leader, it also strives to show her as a bright 17-year old who is, unsurprisingly, just like any other teenager.
ANGIE TRIBECA (Premieres Sunday, January 17th)
Here’s the thing, cop spoofs are fantastic but so incredibly hard to get just right. The tone is key and having the right actors to pull off the silliness without coming of as caricatures can often backfire. TBS’s new cop comedy ANGIE TRIBECA hits just the right spots for lovers of zany, wacky comedies like LOADED WEAPON, but does it in its own way. Created and produced by Nancy and Steven Carrell, Rashida Jones stars as Tribeca a tough-lady cop who rubs against many she works with. TBS will air all episodes of ANGIE TRIBECA on Sunday, January 17th during a 25-hour marathon. Don’t worry, it’ll go back to it’s normal, weekly airing the following week.
ANIMAL KINGDOM (Premieres Summer 2016)
Based off the Australian film of the same day, ANIMAL KINGDOM follows the Codys, a crime family lead by a powerful matriarch (Ellen Barkin), as they try to keep their family together without giving up the violent world they live in. The clips shown during TCA looked delicious and it will probably be one of the summer’s most talked about new crime drama. We’re thirsty for crime stories, and ANIMAL KINGDOM brings together dangerous sexuality with a brutal heart.
VINYL (Premieres Sunday, February 14th)
Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger partnered on the 70s era rock drama for HBO and their combined star power created a show that will excite music lovers and dark drama fans alike. The series revolves around Richie (Bobby Cannavale), a struggling music exec who is seemingly at the top of his game, but is in fact running his ship into the ground. He is trying to keep himself afloat and find the next big musical act, but he has a lot of stuff going down at home that cause quite a distraction. But not as much of a distraction as one of the big shocks that happens near the end of the two hour pilot. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll; I cannot think of a better way to spend Valentines Day.