The Most Important Shows on TV: Week of January 23, 2017

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.

 

Riverdale: S1E1

Riverdale
(Series Premiere)

Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW

Why: This is the network that airs critically beloved shows about a virgin who was accidentally artificially inseminated and a lawyer whose cross-country move to be near her summer camp boyfriend is accompanied by imagined musical numbers. So if anyone can pull off a dark take on the traditionally wholesome premise of Archie Andrews and friends, it's The CW. A sort of Twin Peaks/Dawson's Creek/Veronica Mars hybrid, this buzzed-about comic book adaptation is not your parents' Archie. Yes, Betty and Veronica both have the hots for the all-American boy, but they also have their own interesting, complicated friendship that is really the heart of the show. Miss Geraldine Grundy is around, but she's 30 years younger and very into her students in a not-so-great way. Oh, and Archie’s dad is Luke Perry. With a student's suspicious death kicking things off, the show's first season will balance typical teen drama and potential murder mystery.

Prepare to talk about: Who will become the show's breakout star (my money's on Camila Mendes); how meh the guys are compared to the shows' outstanding female characters.

 

Scandal: S6E1

Scandal
(Season Premiere)

Thursday at 9 p.m. on ABC

Why: ABC pushed back Season 6 to midseason to accommodate Kerry Washington’s pregnancy, so it's been about eight months since Shondaland's version of Election Day. It only takes about 10 minutes to find out who wins. Mercifully. Because while the details aren't the same, watching another close election may be a bit too much for some to bear. After determining whether Mellie Grant or Francisco Vargas will become the next U.S. president, the show jumps around in time with different characters to fill in some blanks. There's plenty of Olivia Pope realness, some classic Huckelberry Quinn banter, a more comfortable and more power-hungry Abby, and an explosion, natch.

Prepare to talk about: How Scandal will now be an escape from the increasingly shocking reality of Trump's D.C.; Cyrus' claim to the title of TV's most infuriating character; all the little ways Kerry Washington's pregnancy is hidden.

 

Z: The Beginning of Everything: S1E1

Z: The Beginning of Everything

Friday at 3 a.m. on Amazon

Why: Like her onscreen sister (in Mermaids) Winona Ryder (stick with me here), the past decade hasn't been particularly fruitful for Christina Ricci. There have been plenty of projects, but nothing truly outstanding or long-lasting. But just as Netflix's Stranger Things resurrected Ryder's career, this Amazon production could kick-start things for Ricci. The pilot for Z: The Beginning of Everything actually debuted in November 2015 (along with Good Girls Revolt and One Mississippi) to mixed reviews, but most critics praised Ricci, who may not initially seem like the perfect Zelda Fitzgerald, but who does, in fact, nail the role of the emotional, explosive, stylish, complicated socialite and artist. The season follows the Fitzgeralds from their first meeting in Alabama through their climb to the top of New York City's literary world, showing the beginning of their many marital woes.

Prepare to talk about: How underrated Christina Ricci is; whether Amazon will give this show more time than Good Girls Revolt to build an audience.

 

T.J. DeGroat is the editor of SideReel. He's a total Veronica. Follow him on Twitter.

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TelevisionFanboyContributor
Jan 20, 2017 5:23PM EST

Christina Ricci is just too good. So much of her acting is so deeply nuanced and subtly emotional that Z: The Beginning of Everything is destined to succeed. Hopefully it is as critically acclaimed and well recieved as it deserves to be.

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Michael Antoniou
Jan 23, 2017 4:38AM EST

One of the most upsetting thing about the new Riverdale is that they decided to change the sexual orientation of Jughead, from Asexual to heterosexual. This could of been major milestone to have one of the first openly Asexual characters on a network TV series. Instead they felt the need to make a drastic change from the original comics, which actually confirmed his asexuality in 2011.

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