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

On this inauguration weekend, the only man on America’s mind… is Aziz Ansari

(Photo: KC Bailey/Universal Television)
(Photo: KC Bailey/Universal Television)

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, January 20, and Saturday, January 21. All times are Eastern.


Top picks

Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m., Saturday): Leading America’s way into a new year—hell, a new era—great American Aziz Ansari becomes the first Saturday Night Live host of South Asian descent. Sure, some might say that it’s shocking for a venerable and influential institution like SNL to take 42 years to elect to have someone from a people who make up nearly a quarter of Earth’s population in charge, but that’s not the sort of negativity the Ansari administration stands for. The distinguished gentleman from South Carolina has waged a particularly good-natured and hilarious, yet insightful and inclusive campaign to finally reach the hallowed halls of Studio 8H, where he is expected to receive an enthusiastic welcome from a sold-out house for his SNL debut. Ansari’s running mate and musical guest Big Sean will be onstage alongside the man to whom America turns its eyes and hopes in this momentous weekend where nothing else is happening whatsoever.

Take The 10 (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., Friday): Josh Peck and The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Tony Revolori star in this buddy road movie comedy from the “fourth Beatle” of The Lonely Island, Chester Tam. Some stoners steal music festival tickets and drugs from a guy who does not appreciate that, and things go from there. Look for lots of funny people in small roles, like Fred Armisen, Kevin Corrigan, and Tam’s buddy Andy Samberg.

Great Performances: Alicia Keyes—Landmarks Live In Concert (PBS, 9 p.m., Saturday): Filmed all over Keyes’ native New York over the past year, this special sees the singer perform at various notable city locations, finishing up with her NYC anthem ”Empire State Of Mind.”

Beaches (Lifetime, 8 p.m., Saturday): “You are the something beneath my something…” C’mon, you all know it! Anyway, Idina Menzel and Nia Long elbow aside Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey in this made-for-TV remake of the 1988 friendship weep-a-thon from late director Garry Marshall. Two women’s lifelong bond really kicks in when one of them starts not feeling well. Then, look out—song and hanky time. Lifetime is even giving us an hour-long cool-down session with Beaches: The After-Show at 10 p.m. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served in front of a cozy fire. Bring your own comfy lounge-around sweater.

U.S. Figure Skating Championships (NBC, 8 p.m., Saturday): Strap in for three solid hours of the best skaters in the world always, always twirling, twirling, twirling toward freedom!


Premieres and finales

Frontier (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., Friday): Former Khal Drogo, future Aquaman, and all-around burly cool guy Jason Momoa stars in this Canadian period adventure drama about the founding of the North American fur trade. Look for Mr. Momoa in various buckskin-and-furs ensembles with axe and musket accessories this time out.

Girl Meets World (Disney, 6 p.m., Friday): This is it for the beloved-of-some tween comedy, as Disney’s pulling the plug after three seasons. Fans are doing the “save our show” thing (Netflix is playing coy, like they do), so big ratings for this finale would be doing them a solid.


Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO, 10 p.m., Friday): Maher returns for a 15th season of vaguely condescending bickering and hectoring.

Regular coverage

The Vampire Diaries (CW, 8 p.m., Friday)

Grimm (NBC, 8 p.m., Friday)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW, 9 p.m., Friday)

Star Wars Rebels (Disney XD, 8:30 p.m., Saturday)

Streaming pick

Freedom Riders (PBS.org), Before Stonewall (Amazon, Epix), Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (Netflix), An Inconvenient Truth (Netflix), The Central Park Five (Amazon), Citizen Koch (Netflix), Love-A-Thon (Facebook Live, 12:30 p.m., Friday): While that Facebook post going around about how to ensure terrible ratings for today’s Inauguration Of Donald Trump (noon, everywhere, dear God) turns out to be mostly futile nonsense, a fine alternative to celebrating that… event is to counter-program your own block of docs. Some examples above, including the celebrity-studded Facebook Live event airing during the inauguration, where people like Judd Apatow, Jane Fonda, Jamie Lee Curtis, Patricia Arquette, Christopher Guest, Tim Robbins, and Jeff Tweedy entertain you while urging you to give money to civil rights and environmental causes likely to be more necessary in/threatened by the incoming administration (like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and Earthjustice). But these are just some ideas—use the comments to provide your own favorite examples of films (fictional or otherwise) that angry up the blood and get you ready to stand up for a lot of people who are going to need it after today more than ever.