The Most Important Shows on TV: Week of July 18, 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.

 

The Bravos: S2016E1

The Bravos

Wednesday at 10 p.m. on Bravo

Why: Look, there's a lot of heavy, dramatic stuff on TV each week (see below). Even today's beloved comedies are typically dark and twisty. That's why it's important to spend some time plugged into something as mindless and fun as Bravo. Pick a show — they're so formulaic, any of them will do — and get caught up in the semi-scripted rantings of narcissists and sociopaths. From "prostitution whore" to "Jesus Jugs," we've long celebrated Bravolebrities' contributions to pop culture, so why not give them actual (pointless) awards? The 13 categories include the Sorry Not Sorry Award and the Award for Jumpsuit Achievement (featuring Khloé Kardashian taking on NeNe Leakes). Shade-throwing legend Mariah Carey, who apparently is also a singer, will receive the Giving Me Life Achievement Award. The show also will feature a performance by Erika Jayne, which might not be good, but will definitely be entertaining. So open up a bottle of Ramona Pinot Grigio, grab some Skinnygirl snacks, and zone out.

Prepare to talk about: Who's the messiest of them all; how much Bravo is too much Bravo; whether Andy Cohen's thirst can ever be quenched.

 

Thirteen: S1E5

Thirteen
(Season Finale)

Thursday at 10 p.m. on BBC America

Why: BBC America's five-part series about a 26-year-old who spent half of her life kidnapped comes to an end, hopefully with some answers. This compelling take on abduction and memory has been a real emotional rollercoaster, with constant questions about whether Ivy Moxam (My Mad Fat Diary's fantastic Jodie Comer) is a completely innocent victim, a Stockholm syndrome-suffering co-conspirator, or something in between. One of the strengths has been its commitment to staying in the present, avoiding flashbacks as viewers struggle to figure out what really happened to Ivy and everyone connected to her kidnapping. In the (U.S.) finale, the stakes are higher than ever as Ivy meets with her kidnapper in an attempt to save his new victim, 10-year-old Phoebe. But as has been the case throughout the previous four episodes, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Prepare to talk about: Jodie Comer's powerful performance; that love-it-or-hate-it theme song; whether writer Marnie Dickens might change her mind about a second season.

 

Looking: The Movie

Looking: The Movie

Saturday at 10 p.m. on HBO

Why: It's rare that a canceled TV show gets a chance to wrap up its story on its own terms, but HBO did the creative team behind Looking a real solid with this 90-minute conclusion to the travails of Patrick and his friends. (Of course, cancelling the show in the first place was a real dolt move, so…) This was a quiet, sometimes slow, meaningful show — similar to executive producer Andrew Haigh's lauded film Weekend. It never connected with a wide audience — and even the gay community, much less starved for portrayals of itself on TV than a decade ago, struggled to celebrate it. But it is excellent, featuring lovely, nuanced performances from its talented cast, anchored by an exceptional Jonathan Groff. His Patrick will likely continue to frustrate viewers with his indecision in this wrap-up, which sees his return to San Francisco for a wedding after a year away.

Prepare to talk about: What Jonathan Groff has described as Looking's "most intense sex scene"; whether you're team Richie or Kevin; how much the world needs a Dom and Doris spinoff.

 

T.J. DeGroat is the editor of SideReel. He wants to be Team Richie, but he's Team Kevin. Follow him on Twitter.

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TelevisionFanboyContributor
Jul 16, 2016 1:56AM EDT

Thirteen looks amazing and I think Looking deserve a binge watching soon. But I won't waste my time on The Bravos. I value my time to much for that (and I've seen every episode of the Simpsons so that's saying something)

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Jul 16, 2016 8:04PM EDT

Ha. "The Bravos" is a purely selfish pick. But yes, please do check out "Thirteen" and especially "Looking" -- it is really wonderful.

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