Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Ava DuVernay asserts that slavery in America is still alive in 13th

Newt Gingrich, Ava DuVernay (Photo: Netflix)

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, October 7, and Saturday, October 8. All times are Eastern.

Top picks

13th (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., Friday): Selma director Ava DuVernay’s searing new documentary contends that policies like mandatory minimums, pressure to accept plea-bargaining arrangements, different sentencing guidelines between crack and powder cocaine, programs like three-strikes and stop-and-frisk, for-profit prisons, and others, have systematically imprisoned and disenfranchised the black community in America, turning prison labor essentially into slavery by another name. This important film draws parallels to this especially racially charged presidential campaign and interviews an impressively wide range of subjects, from Angela Davis to Newt Gingrich. A.A. Dowd came away impressed, calling DuVernay’s film “a blitzkrieg of outrage.”

Russell Peters: Almost Famous (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., Friday): New standup special from Canada’s favorite son, Peters. (Suck it, Shatner.)


Lewis Black: Black To The Future (Comedy Central, 10 p.m., Friday): Gee, what could perpetually irascible comedian Black find to get all worked up about in these carefree, harmonious days? Just kidding—Lewis Black’s head is going to explode onstage by the end of his one-man Broadway show.

Day Of Reckoning (Syfy, 9 p.m., Saturday): According the synopsis of this Syfy original movie, it’s 15 years after Earth was clobbered by demons, and “mediocre husband and father David Shepperd (Jackson Hurst) has to try to save his family when the demon creatures return to wreak more havoc.” Man, “mediocre husband and father?” Words can hurt more than a demon claw, Syfy.


Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m., Saturday): If you wanted to see Lin-Manuel Miranda performing live in New York, this might be your only chance. And it’s free, even.

Premieres and finales

The Ranch (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., Friday): Look, it’s not the fault of middling original series fare like this Ashton Kutcher-led show that Netflix isn’t paying for the rights to as many streaming movies as it used to (allegedly). But still, some may be puzzled that there are 10 more episodes of the first season coming out today, and that Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Debra Winger, and Sam Elliott are coming back for 20 more episodes next year as a fractious Colorado rancher family.

“Another year with this kid, huh?” (Photo: Netflix)

Hellevator (GSN, 9 p.m., Friday): First off, we can all agree that the M. Night Shyamalan-penned, elevator-based horror movie Devil would have made more money if it were called Hellevator, right? (Or, Devilvator.) But that’s beside the point, as this marks the second-season premiere of this ghoulish game show, where identical twin horror filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska (aka “The Twisted Twins”) mastermind a house of horrors-type scenario for some theoretically courageous contestants to overcome. There’s $50 grand at stake, tons of fake blood, and that damned Hellevator, taking them down into the bowels of game show hell. Damn you, Hellevator!


My Life Is A Telenovela (WE, 10 p.m., Friday): In this new reality show, a group of aspiring telenovela stars undergo the standard backstabbing, crying, and hooking up (sometimes simultaneously) while chasing their dreams of soap stardom. They’re going to have to step their game up if they ever hope to be the next Rogelio De La Vega, though.

Regular coverage

Z Nation (Syfy, 9 p.m., Friday)

High Maintenance (HBO, 11 p.m., Friday)

Streaming pick

Generalissimo,” 30 Rock (Netflix): In his review of this 30 Rock episode, Nathan Rabin calls Alec Baldwin’s telenovela doppelgänger Jack Donaghy’s “very own Mexican union equivalent in a super-gay Mexican soap actor.” There’s really no way to top that.


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