Worth Watching: ‘Drunk History’ and ‘Alternatino’ on Comedy Central, Patti LuPone Strikes a ‘Pose,’ OWN’s ‘Ambitions’
A selective critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
Drunk History (10/9c, Comedy Central): The perpetually tipsy comedy series is back with a summer season of eight new episodes, starting with a Believe It or Not parody in which series creator Derek Walters takes on the Ripley role. Among the tall tales: Doug Jones narrating the high-flying journey of lawnchair man Larry Walters (Colin Hanks) and his helium-filled balloons. Sara Rue and Taran Killam enact other stories.
Followed at 10:30/9:30c by the premiere of the very promising sketch series Alternatino with Arturo Castro, a worthy successor to breakouts like Key & Peele, starring the appealing Castro (Broad City, Narcos), who challenges and sends up stereotypes of his Guatemalan heritage. In the opener, he questions his Latino machismo on a series of unsatisfying dates and plays a robot with low esteem. I laughed loudest at an HGTV parody about a combative couple participating in Broken Home Hunters. Check it out.
Pose (10/9c, FX): Blanca (Mj Rodriguez), the heroic house mother, has survived a blow-out with the formidable Elektra (Dominique Jackson), but she faces what could be an even more fearsome diva when Broadway legend Patti LuPone begins a recurring role as real-estate magnate Frederica Norman. This queen of mean (think Leona Helmsley) strikes a tough bargain when Blanca sets up shop with a nail salon — which is child’s play considering what Elektra is doing to raise extra money. This week’s category: an Eros ball, where hearts will be broken.
Ambitions (10/9c, OWN): If ABC’s Grand Hotel didn’t already slake your appetite for prime-time soaps, you could check out this steamy Atlanta-set saga from producer Will Packer (Girls Trip). Robin Givens stars as Stephanie Lancaster, a glamorous lawyer who’s also the local First Lady, married to a mayor (Brian White) who dreams of becoming Georgia’s first African-American governor. While Stephanie plots to take control of her family’s law firm, she clashes with newly arrived prosecutor Amara Hughes (Essence Atkins), her former college BFF turned rival.
Pride Month Stories: Glenn Close narrates the PBS documentary The Lavender Scare (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), recently featured on CBS’s Sunday Morning, which tells of the decades-long persecution by the U.S. government of LGBTQ federal workers, considered security risks. Thousands of employees were investigated, hounded, fired and in some cases driven to suicide because of their sexual orientation. It’s also the story of Frank Kameny (interviewed for the film before his death in 2011), a gay astronomer working with the U.S. Army’s Map Service who is believed to be the first person who openly fought back against his dismissal.
HBO’s more celebratory Wig (10/9c) traces the history of New York City’s raucous Wigstock festival, which brought drag culture into the spotlight for nearly 20 years, starting in 1984. The special follows drag icon Lady Bunny and a new generation of gender-fluid performers as they resurrect the festival in the summer of 2018, with Neil Patrick Harris and husband David Burtka as co-producers.
Inside Tuesday TV: In the Netflix stand-up comedy special Adam Devine: Best Time of Our Lives, the Workaholics star (and Modern Family favorite) returns to his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, for a set that finds humor in the growing pains of puberty and turning 21… Science Channel’s docuseries Hurricane Man (10/9c) follows veteran storm chaser Josh Morgerman as he studies the destructive track of hurricanes from the Philippine jungles to the coastal waters of the Deep South and beyond… TBS’s The Detour (10:30/9:30c) goes back on the road for a fourth season of harrowingly slapstick misadventures for the Parker family, who now find themselves going to extremes — and the mountains of Tibet — in search of runaway daughter Delilah (Ashley Gerasimovich)… The newly ubiquitous Jonas Brothers are the latest pop sensations to drop by NBC’s Songland (10/9c) to hear pitches from fledgling songwriters, one of whose songs they’ll adapt to record and release as a single.