We’re now firmly in the holiday doldrums when it comes to new television, but that will change immediately after the New Year – in fact, we’re going to see some new programming on the first day of 2013. Here’s a quick look at some of the new reality to watch for in the coming weeks, along with a look at several familiar series that will soon be returning. They are listed here in the order of their premiere dates.
Dance Moms (Lifetime): The series that made child abuse into entertainment is back for a third season. Will anyone from Abby Lee Miller’s recent competition show be signing on to this one?
The Sisterhood (TLC): Such a good idea, you wonder why no one thought of it before now: a series about the wives of preachers in Atlanta. “Tensions will run high as their faith and relationships are challenged through a dramatic season of disagreements, betrayal, criticism, and exploring inner demons,” TLC promises. Oh, I’ll bet.
Storage Wars: New York (A&E): Have we had enough yet? A&E is betting we haven’t.
Buckwild (MTV): It sounds like a cross between Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Jersey Shore, and like Jersey Shore, it’s been the target of pre-premiere criticism for its cultural stereotyping, which likely ensures a hit. Centered on a group of friends in West Virginia with their own unique ways of partying, this will no doubt be a tasteful anthropological study.
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (TLC): This isn’t quite the Season 2 premiere date: we’re getting three specials this winter timed to Halloween, Thanskgiving, and Christmas. What I want to know is, how do these people even celebrate Halloween, given what they eat typically? Do they just jam a sugar-filled IV into their vein?
Making Mr. Right (VH1): This premise sounds excessively complex: women pose as matchmakers for men who think they’re being filmed for a dating show, when in fact the women are attempting to change them into what they think would be the perfect man for themselves. So these guys are supposed to fall for their “matchmaker” after they realize they’ve been snookered? Clearly, there’s something here I’m not getting.
Mob Wives (VH1): There’s a new wife in Season 3, Love Majewski. Neither of those names are usually associated with mob life, but I suppose this will all be explained in time.
The Biggest Loser (NBC): Jillian Michaels is back for Season 14, which is subtitled “Challenge America.” OK, that’s all I need after failing at my New Year’s resolutions: a challenge from this show.
The Bachelor (ABC): Watching a nice young Christian man named Sean Lowe driven insane by two dozen single women could be the biggest horror show of January, worse than even that new 3-D take on Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Vanderpump Rules (Bravo): It’s a cliché that every waiter in Hollywood is a famewhore waiting to happen, which explains why we’re now getting a series about the staff at Housewife Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurant. One of these charmers, Scheana Marie, popped up on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills a few weeks back after Brandi Glanville recognized her as yet another woman who had slept with her ex.
Snooki & JWoww (MTV): Season 2, where we get the answer to the timeless question, “Can you really bring a newborn into the club?”
Millionaire Matchmaker (Bravo): It’s time for Season 6, which is about 5 more seasons of Patti Stanger than I ever figured America could tolerate. If it’s true we’re going to be learning more this season about her “personal search for love,” let me know ahead of time so I won’t eat beforehand.
American Idol (Fox): The former 900-pound gorilla of primetime has dropped a little weight, but even after the biggest changes in its history (three new judges), it’s safe to say people will still be watching. The success of Phillip Phillips (so far) can’t hurt.
Big Rich Atlanta (Style): Yes, it’s a franchise now! Those of you who have marveled at/been appalled by Big Rich Texas should likewise enjoy the newbie, set in and around a Georgia country club.
The Taste (ABC): You read that right: this is on ABC, not the Food Network. Four food stars coach teams who then go on to prepare dishes for sampling – though the judges won’t know who prepared what, and whether they might unwittingly be ripping their own team’s creation. Anthony Bourdain is always entertaining, but this really sounds niche-y for something that’s not on cable.
Project Runway (Lifetime): I’m not sure never being off the air is working for Runway, but I’m definitely sure Lifetime isn’t interested in my opinion. Season 11 will have one new judge, Zac Posen; and a major format change, as all designers will have to work in teams.
Built (Style): Five male models double as handymen that work on home renovations, or perhaps I have that backwards. I’m not the target audience for this show, but I know some of you are!
RuPaul’s Drag Race (Logo): The fifth season features a contestant named Penny Tration. I hate to put the jinx on her, but she’s from my home state, and hello! She’s named Penny Tration. She must win.
Southie Rules (A&E): What’s with all the “rules” this winter? A South Boston family deals with wealthy intruders into their neighborhood, and – this is just a guess! – argues a whole lot. Irish New Englanders are sort of my people, so I’m hoping this isn’t as broad as I fear it will be.
Survivor: Caramoan (CBS): The 26th edition is back in the Philippines, and will be the second season played with a “Fans vs. Favorites” format. One of the rumored returning Favorites was a Fan the first time he played. It’s the circle of life!
Freakshow (AMC): No, this isn’t a spinoff of The Walking Dead: it’s about a man named Todd Ray, and the wacked-out spectacle he operates on the Venice Beach Boardwalk.
The Amazing Race (CBS): Little is officially known yet about Season 22, but I’m going to assume we’ll see one boyfriend-girlfriend who can’t stop screaming at each other, and that wacky Phil eyebrow.