Celebrity Gogglebox USA
Ten, Thursday, 7.30pm
As has become something of a TV custom, the term “celebrity” here is loosely applied. Among the participants in this American version who might be familiar to local viewers are chef Curtis Stone and his wife, actress Lindsay Price, model and TV host Tyra Banks, actor Justin Long and the Osbournes.
Some of the others, maybe less so. In accordance with the established format, the participants sit around in their homes, drinking, munching snacks, watching TV and offering their spontaneous and not-always-deeply-considered responses to a range of shows. Here these include Nailed It!, Kings of Pain and the vintage addition, The Joy of Painting, a how-to-paint program hosted by apparent icon Bob Ross. It’s worth persevering to the end to see Apple co-founder Steve Wosniak’s adorable reaction to the Mother’s Day screening of Dirty Dancing.
Escape from the City
Kim and Graham are retirees looking to move from Sydney’s west to the NSW south coast. She’d ideally like a house that’s quirky, cozy and a bit “boho”; he wants something sleek, modern and requiring no renovation. They have different priorities and they seem like nice people; it’s not their fault that they’re trapped in a terrible show.
A thinly veiled excuse for a real-estate commercial, it looks like the kind of advertorial that would be more at home filling space on a commercial channel on a weekend afternoon. Using the kind of language that would be better suited to a real-estate brochure, guff about realising dreams and places that need “a little love”, Simon Marnie guides the couple through four properties that meet some of their differing preferences. Even allowing for Australians’ love of real-estate and renovation programs, this shoddy excuse for a series is an embarrassment that doesn’t deserve a run in prime time on the national broadcaster, let alone two seasons. What were they thinking?
Cults and Extreme Beliefs
SBS Viceland, 8.30pm
Presented by journalist Elizabeth Vargas, this A&E Investigates edition reveals the nightmarish experiences of Sarah Edmondson as a member of the NXIVM cult headed by Keith “The Vanguard” Raniere. Edmondson fled the group after 12 years as a devoted member and skilled recruiter. Then she turned whistleblower, detailing how her search for self-improvement became a brutal prison. The tone of the program is initially sensational. Vargas’ introduction promises an expose of “slaves, masters, a secret sex cult and now a federal indictment”. Yet there is also substantial information about how such groups operate and Edmondson is candid and thoughtful about why she was susceptible to NXIVM’s tactics.