Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Survivor brings back the champs, plus the stars of Cherish The Day on meet-cutes

Denise Stapley; Xosha Roquemore, Alano Miller
Denise Stapley; Xosha Roquemore, Alano Miller
Photo: Robert Voets (The CW), OWN

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Wednesday, February 12. All times are Eastern. 

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Top picks

Survivor: Winners At War (CBS, 8 p.m., two-hour 40th-season premiere): We cannot stress this enough: This is Survivor’s 40th season. Forty. Forty seasons. That’s something else, and CBS understandably chose to make a big stinkin’ deal about this milestone. Behold, Winners At War:

Just as these winners return to the competition, so, too, will Myles McNutt to the recap beat, dropping in on this premiere to get the lay of the land.

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Cherish The Day (OWN, 8 p.m., time-slot premiere): You’ve got some time to watch the first hour of OWN’s latest drama, which, like Queen Sugar, comes from creator and executive producer Ava DuVernay. Cherish The Day made its bow yesterday, but tonight is its first night in its regular time slot. The first season of this anthology series follows Gently (Xosha Roquemore) and Evan (Alano Miller), from their meeting in line at the library through the next five years, each episode covering one day in their relationship with big time jumps between installments. The first episode is pretty arresting, and the second, which airs tonight, is even better.

The A.V. Club spoke with Roquemore and Miller about meet-cutes, how they approached the script’s many time jumps, and working with the legendary Cicely Tyson.

The A.V. Club: Are meet-cutes a myth?

Xosha Roquemore: I have never had a romance-level meet-cute.

Alano Miller: I won’t say that they’re myth. I think that they’re fleeting. They’re rare, but they’re real.

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XR: Theirs was the audition scene, so we had done that scene many times.

AM: It’s just about the nuance of it, right? It’s all about the point of view, the intentions. And Evan is the kind of character who’s a Mr. Fix -It so he tries to save the day, but in actuality, it’s really more of a way to get connected to her. That’s really cool to play—to say one thing, but really do the other.

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XR: And [Gently’s] like, “Oh no, man, I don’t need you. I don’t need anyone.”

AVC: How did you go about filling in the blanks between episodes?

XR: We talked to each other, we talked to all of our amazing directors, talked to Ava. It was a real collaboration for us. And it was stuff that no one will see, but obviously it’s living inside of us, and the questions we asked ourselves created that nuance.

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AM: Whenever you get a script, you don’t know what’s happening in between scenes. You always have to kind of answer these questions. This was just like a heightened version of what we always do when we get a [script].

AVC: Is that what attracted you to the script initially?

XR: Ava attracted me to the script initially [Both laugh]. And the character! I’d never seen a character like this, especially in a romance. Gently felt much more real, closer to me and the women I know.

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AVC: What’s it like to find out that you’re going to be making something with Cicely Tyson?

XR: Oh, my gosh. I remember the day when they were like, “I think, I think Ms. Tyson is going to be playing Ms. Luma.” I’m just like, “What?! For real?”

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AM: “Yeah, right. She’s not gonna do it, no way, not happening.”

XR: “She ain’t.” Then she’s confirmed. I was shook, in a good way. I’m trying to find an eloquent way of saying this: It’s like bridging the gap from one generation to the next. I stand on her shoulders, so to get to work with her... gosh.

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AM: You mentioned myth earlier. She, to me, is a myth. You hear about this phenomenal human being who did all these things, who paved the way, who made room for so many people of color, for women, and then all of a sudden she’s sitting right in front of you, all five feet of her, vibrant, alive. And she is ready to go, and she’s up for the challenge and she’s present, and I just think, “Please, god, please let me get to that place.” Watch her work, watch her flirt, watch her do anything. It’s a masterclass.

XR: She’s worked with so many people. James Baldwin. She’s just showing us pictures of her with James Baldwin. I’m like, “So now I know somebody who knew James Baldwin, socially, like just chilling with him and Maya Angelou.”

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AM: It’s just one of those moments where you think, “I am in the presence of greatness, I’m humbled to be in that space,” and she’s so gracious and giving to us as artists that we never felt like we weren’t great ourselves.

XR: It was like the warm Black woman hug from Hollywood that I didn’t even know I needed, but I needed it. Ava, Oprah, Ms. Tyson. It was like generational hugs from our powerhouse sisters. I was like, “Man, I’m up in here with them? Cool. Yeah. Believe it.”

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Regular coverage

Riverdale (The CW, 8 p.m.)
Modern Family (ABC, 9 p.m.)

Wild card

The Soup (E!, 10 p.m., 13th-season premiere): So, The Soup is back.

No, you have not just emerged from the TARDIS in 2015. It is still 2020, and comedian and actress Jade Catta-Preta has taken up the baton (ladle?) from Joel McHale. Social media now seems to do what The Soup once did, so it’ll be interesting to see how this new version fits in our instantly GIF-able world.

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