TV power rankings: Cheerleaders rule, The Bachelor drools

Just kidding, The Bachelor also rules. Here are the 5 most notable TV shows of the week.

What a good December for TV. Shout out to Netflix, first and foremost, for giving us both The Witcher and YOU, two bananas binge-watch options. I personally also watched The Leftovers over the holidays, as anyone who encountered me between Dec. 20 and Jan. 6 can attest, as it was and is all I want(ed) to talk about.

The Golden Globes also happened on Jan. 5, sort of before anyone had fully returned to reality, and while no one really cares about the TV portion of the show, it was indeed delightful to see our No. 1 boy show Succession pick up some wins.

In any case, now it’s time to look to the future, or rather the more-near-past, which is to say, last week, and power rank the notable shows on TV and streaming. As always, this is not just a list of the shows I want to talk about, but it’s also not not that.


Fish in a Barrel, Roanoke (Episode 1 and 2), HBO


I am going to quote my own review here, partially because I’m lazy and partially because my thoughts and feelings have not changed:

The simplest review of The Outsider […]is that the HBO series entirely delivers on the promise of its teasers and conceit. If you think the trailer looks good, if a True Detective adaptation of Stephen King story (or a Stephen King take on True Detective) sounds like your thing, then without a doubt, tune in. If you need more convincing, read on.

There are better, more exciting episodes of The Outsider than the two episode premiere, episodes that will likely make my list, but for now, I rest my case.

P.S. There is a Very Big Development in the second episode so if you care about spoilers, have not read the book and have half an interest in The Outsider, watch it ASAP.


Season 1, Netflix


Everyone I know watched Cheer this past weekend and if I hadn’t spent the entire weekend powering through neglected screeners (this is not a brag, this is a complaint), I would have watched it too.

Cheer is a docuseries from the Last Chance U crew that highlights the under-appreciated attributes of cheerleading — namely, the intensity, aggression and astounding physicality of the athletes’ stunt work and routines. The six-episode series, streaming on Netflix, follows the Navarro College cheer squad, one of the most competitive and popular teams in the country, as they try to win a 14th title at Nationals. It has inspired multiple gushing group chats and made multiple friends cry.


Surrender at Discretion (Episode 3), USA


If Cheer has sparked a newfound interest in cheerleading but you’re looking for something a little more…Riverdale meets Sharp Objects, something a little more Tonya Harding, every critic I trust is recommending Dare Me. Based on the Meg Abbott novel of the same name, it’s a pulpy teen drama about two high school cheerleaders and best friends who get thrown into a death spiral (wrong sport, I don’t care) when the arrival of a new coach — magnetic to one, anathema to the other — upends the careful balance of their already volatile world.

I can’t vouch for it personally, but for more convincing, I direct you to the Caroline Framke review that sold me.


Smoke Signals (season 6 episode 1), PopTV


Practically speaking, no one watches Schitt’s Creek on PopTV, no one really knows how. I think you need HuluTV or your parents’ cable log-in.

But for those so dedicated to watching TV’s most delightful, heartwarming family-centered sitcom in real time, the Roses returned last week with a season 6 premiere that included multiple classic anecdotes about Alexis’ past (of course, she smuggled her high school best friend across the border in a suitcase), heartwarming David and Patrick moments and bizarre Moira pronunciations. You know, the Schitt’s Creek special.


Episode 2, ABC


Okay, yes, I am absolutely over-ranking this week’s The Bachelor, a decidedly fine episode of reality dating competition television, but I am excited. I have never watched a full season of The Bachelor before, mostly because I’ve never been professionally obliged to watch a full season of The Bachelor before, but like all the contestants on the show, I am ready to go on this journey with Pete and countless other women.

Pete is a sweetheart, what a likable dude — I want nothing but the best for him.

I kind of love Hannah Ann, our potential villain, even though I feel ultimately she is not The One For Peter. (But also: I don’t know any of these people!) I definitely love Victoria P., a sweetie for whom I have I decided to root. I also maybe love Hannah Brown?? Her extremely extended presence at the start of episode 2 was bad TV but I still want the best for her.

Anyways, there are no doubt better (and more dramatic!) episodes of The Bachelor to come, which will perhaps earn the show the No. 1 spot on stronger merits, but for better or worse, this feels like the right way to start the 2020 rankings.

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