This Week’s Top 5 TV Picks


There are scores of TV shows out there, with dozens of new episodes each week, not to mention everything you can find on Hulu Plus, Netflix streaming, and HBO Go. How’s a viewer to keep up? To help you sort through all that television has to offer, Flavorwire is compiling five best bets for the coming week. This weekend, Saturday Night Live returns after a few weeks of reruns with a new episode, featuring host Octavia Spencer and musical guest Father John Misty; Ryan Murphy returns to FX with a juicy new anthology series; and an under-appreciated Russian spy thriller — no, not that one — returns. Happy watching, comrades!

Saturday: Saturday Night Live

After a couple weeks of reruns, SNL returns this weekend (NBC, Saturday, 11:30 p.m., no doy) with a dynamite host: Octavia Spencer, fresh off her Oscar nomination for the surprise hit Hidden Figures . SNL has taken on a new sense of purpose and cultural relevance in the wake of the election, and since we’re currently undergoing approximately 17 news cycles per day, there’s plenty of political fodder for the show this weekend. Expect the return of Alec Baldwin, who is riding this Trump wave hard, and with any luck we’ll see a reprise of Melissa McCarthy’s now-indispensable Sean Spicer impression. Plus, did I mention Octavia Spencer’s amazing face will be there?!

Sunday: Feud: Bette and Joan

Ryan Murphy’s latest anthology series, Feud dedicates its first eight-episode season to the infamously tense relationship between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, Hollywood royalty who teamed up late in their careers to make the horror thriller Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, released in 1962. The show is delicious to look at and features fantastic performances from stars Susan Sarandon (Davis) and Jessica Lange (Crawford), as well as Catherine Zeta-Jones as Olivia de Havilland, Alfred Molina as Baby Jane director Bob Aldrich, and Judy Davis as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. I grew a little wary of the show’s characterization of Davis and Crawford’s feud as the series went on, but the show is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of old Hollywood glamour. Feud: Bette and Joan premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. on FX.

Tuesday: The Americans

What’s the deal with Russia? Am I right? AM I RIGHT?! Oh god, you guys. ANYWAY, TV’s favorite spy thriller is back for a fifth season, and things are still looking incredibly bleak for Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell), KGB agents posing as an all-American family during the Cold War. (The original, not the revival.) In the last season, Philip and Elizabeth’s teenage daughter, Paige (Holly Taylor), enters the family business after discovering who her parents really are — which her younger brother still doesn’t know. Plus, the FBI agent next door, Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), may be getting closer to the truth about his neighbors. If your knuckles aren’t white enough already, try The Americans. Season 5 premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. on FX.

Tuesday: Amy Schumer: The Leather Special

Hey, what’s Amy Schumer been up to lately, besides posting tone-deaf videos from the set of her upcoming movie with Goldie Hawn? Aside from writing that movie, Snatched, alongside her sister, Kim Caramele, and Katie Dippold, Schumer has a new Netflix special out this week, her first since 2015’s Live from the Apollo. Amy Schumer: The Leather Special was taped before the election, so don’t expect too much political material, not that Schumer’s known for that anyway. The hour is heavy on sex, dating, and Schumer’s pussy, with a few nods to her mainstream success; now, she tells the audience, she’s “rich, famous, and humble.”

Wednesday: Underground

In the first season of Underground, a group of slaves on a Georgia plantation who call themselves the Macon 7 attempt to escape, with varying results; the second season, which premieres on WGN American Wednesday at 10 p.m., focuses on the fallout of that attempt. The season adds a notable new character, alluded to in the final moments of the Season 1 finale — Harriet Tubman (Aisha Hinds), who teams up with the escaped house slave Rosallee (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) to forge a path to freedom. (Creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski base much of the series on slave narratives available through the Library of Congress.) Executive producer John Legend, who will debut a song in the Season 2 premiere, has a recurring guest role this season as Frederick Douglass.