In TV land, August is a strange transition month, as summer television wraps up and fall programming has yet to begin. My recommendations for TV to watch this month range from the cynical and quirky comedy You’re the Worst to the cinematic musical drama, The Get Down. And it’s time for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Botched By Nature
E!, premiering Aug. 3
I don’t typically promote reality shows in my previews, because many of them are empty calories for the brain. However, Botched is an exception to the rule. The E! series recently added the spin-off, Botched by Nature, which also stars renowned plastic surgeons Dr. Terry Dubrow and Dr. Paul Nassif. Instead of having patients come to the doctors after poorly executed (and sometimes nearly fatal) plastic surgery, BBN has the doctors come to the patients. The docs help people who don’t have the money and resources to fix birth defects or deformities caused by traumatic accidents. While the name Botched by Nature might sound condescending, it’s actually not. One of the highlights of this show is watching the surgeons fix physical problems that have plagued people for years and sometimes decades. In addition to fixing their outward appearance, they also help lift the patients’ spirits and resolve some mental and emotional challenges. I think it’s a good way to educate people on plastic surgery. You should definitely tune in — but not if you’re squeamish.
Olympics Finals for Gymnastics (Team & All-Around)
NBC, returning Aug. 9 and 11
I’ve been a gymnastics fan dating back to the Carly Patterson days of Athens ’04. And while my 5’9” height and fear of tumbling prevented me from participating in the sport, I’ve always been a dedicated spectator. One Friday night a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the women’s P&G Gymnastics Championships on television. I realized quickly that no matter what combination of women U.S. Olympics Gymnastics team coordinator Márta Károlyi chose, they would be deadly to the competition. This 2016 Rio team is probably the strongest group of women the country has ever assembled in the sport. The most dominant gymnast of our time, Simone Biles, is poised to succeed in the all-aAround and help lead the U.S. to team gold. Other standouts include reigning Olympic champion on floor exercise Aly Raisman, and reigning Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas. Not to mention some other rookies rounding out the team: uneven bars phenom Madison Kocian and my personal favorite, the infectiously passionate Laurie Hernandez. Her floor exercise routine is packed with tough tricks and enough swagger and energy to slay a stadium of spectators. So basically, WATCH THIS.
E!, returning Aug. 7
Okay, remember how I just said that reality shows were kinda dumb? Sure, Hollywood Medium can be vapid at times, but if you have any curiosity about the paranormal, why not give it a shot? The “Hollywood Medium” in question is 20-year-old clairvoyant Tyler Henry, a pleasant and sweet young man with an extraordinary gift. He travels to various celebrities’ homes to give them messages from the deceased, along with information about their future health, careers and relationships. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?), Tyler possesses little to no pop culture knowledge, which can sometimes make it extremely awkward when he first meets the “celebrities” (to be fair to him, most of them are C-List, grown-up child stars.) But once Tyler gets going, his predictions are spot-on. One could be cynical and say that a producer pre-interviewed the guests and passed the information along to Tyler. However, on the way to his appointments, Tyler has no idea where he’s headed. Plus, his genuine and naive disposition tends to erode doubts about his abilities. Long story short: If you’re into mediums and celebrities with various levels of fame, you should try this show. It’s peak guilty pleasure TV.
The Get Down
Netflix, premiering Aug. 12
The Get Down comes from film auteur and Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann, and it looks like it’s going to be another one of his visual masterpieces. TGD follows recently canceled HBO series Vinyl in exploring the gritty New York City music scene of the 1970s. Instead of following a bunch of record execs, this show explores the explosion of disco and hip-hop from a grassroots perspective. The cast is made up of relative newcomers, including Jaden Smith, which makes me quite skeptical (just look at his Twitter). My opinions on Luhrmann’s work vary; his over-the top visuals tend to take me out of the story. But I certainly think The Get Down is worth a try if you’ve got a Netflix subscription.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars
LOGO, returning Aug. 25
Drag Race isn’t just a television show; it’s a cultural institution. The program has exposed viewers around the world to drag culture — and helped integrate drag culture into pop culture. But what makes this season of the show better than ever? Instead of a crop of new queens, we’re getting ALL STARS. These competition favorites are returning to the runway to work what they’ve got on the catwalk. This show is a bizarrely fantastic amalgamation of reality staples like America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, Last Comic Standing and American Idol. That means RuPaul’s Drag Race is the all-around competition for drag performers. The show’s campiness can be a weakness, but most of the time it adds fun flavor to the competition. Get ready to lip-synch, and remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint — and in heels no less.
You’re the Worst
FXX, returning Aug. 31
If you love a well-written dark comedy, you should really start watching You’re the Worst. Now in its third season, the show follows a group of four highly opinionated friends in Los Angeles. The two protagonists’ worst fears are realized when they begin falling in love, accidentally settling into the patterns of a “normal” relationship. While the concept of young people trying to figure things out is nothing revolutionary; this show is one of the best-written comedies on television. The characters are hilarious, and the actors add color to roles that could fall flat if handled incorrectly. You’re the Worst’s jaded cynicism is balanced out by its more emotional moments, such when one of the main characters, Gretchen (Aya Cash), struggles with depression. The show handles the situation with truth and realism. And that is really YTW’s strong suit.