The Most Important Shows on TV: Week of July 4, 2016

Which TV series will your friends (and the entire internet) be talking about this week? Stay informed — or at least be able to fake it — with SideReel's weekly guide to The Most Important Shows on TV.


Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular

Monday at 8 p.m. on NBC

Why: Heading out to the waterfront on a warm summer night to celebrate your country's birthday and watch a colorful display light up the night sky may sound like a treat to some. To me, it's a nightmare. The traffic, the hordes of drunks, the children (sorrynotsorry), the mosquitoes, the waiting… and waiting. Why not chill at home on your comfy couch and let a department store fill you with patriotic glee? I'm not sure why Macy's needs to commandeer all of New York City's holiday extravaganzas, but the company has been leading the Independence Day celebration for 40 years (since the bicentennial). This year's display will be appropriately grandiose, featuring, for the first time, pyro-writing, "an explosive version of skywriting created using fireworks." Impressive? The 25-minute pyrotechnic show will begin at 9:25 p.m., so you can tune in then. Or watch from the beginning as Today show co-hosts Willie Geist and Tamron Hall introduce performances from national treasures like Kenny Chesney, Meghan Trainor, and… 5 Seconds of Summer?

Prepare to talk about: How 5 Seconds of Summer is an Australian band; how everything is terrible, but America really is pretty great.


Outlander: S2E13

(Season Finale)

Saturday at 9 p.m. on Starz

Why: Scotland is certainly having a moment. As is Starz, which is building a solid slate of high-quality original programming, the anchor of which is this award-winning adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's best-selling books. During its first season, Outlander was often (favorably) compared to Game of Thrones, celebrated for presenting a more complicated portrayal of women and for employing a decidedly female gaze. Season 2 has continued to take risks, dramatically changing location for a brighter, flashier life in France before dumping the characters back into the depths of misery and war. The 90-minute finale (don't worry, Starz has renewed the show for two more seasons) includes the inevitable Battle of Culloden and some surprising back-and-forth time travel that introduces two very important new characters. Executive producer Maril Davis said fans should expect a "heartbreaking" episode. But you know what they say: whit’s fur ye’ll no go past ye!

Prepare to talk about: How good Tobias Menzies is; those two new(ish) additions.


The Night Of: S1E1

The Night Of
(Series Premiere)

Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO

Why: Did he do it? It's a question we've been asking ourselves a lot lately. And if you're jonesing for another Making a Murderer or Serial-style mystery, this limited series should go to the top of your HBO Now watchlist. Based on a British drama, The Night Of stars John Turturro in a role originally meant for James Gandolfini. The story, about a complex New York City murder case, delves into the broken criminal justice system and "the feral purgatory of Rikers Island" (not to be confused with the Farrell purgatory that was True Detective, Season 2). Riz Ahmed (so good in Nightcrawler) plays Nasir Khan, a Pakistani-American college student who impulsively takes his father's cab out to go to a friend's party and, because he can't figure out the off-duty light, inadvertently picks up a woman — a woman whose dead body he wakes up next to in the morning.

Prepare to talk about: Whether he did it; whether Adnan did it; whether Steven Avery did it; whether poor Brendan Massey will ever catch a break.


T.J. DeGroat is the editor of SideReel. He never watched a single episode of The Sopranos. Follow him on Twitter.



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Jul 2, 2016 7:30PM EDT


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Jul 5, 2016 10:49AM EDT

I have been saving Outlander, Seems like a good time to start! The Night Of looks interesting. Thanks T.J

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Jul 8, 2016 3:37AM EDT

The Night Of was leaked a few days back. It is a promising show, but the story (as all of todays shows) is not new. It is a remake or spin off of the UK show Criminal Justice from 2008.

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