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WHAT TO WATCH 12-18 February

This week's best telly includes a dark reimagining of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, an intimate and revealing portrait of Kanye West, another new drama on Apple TV+ so much more.

Here are 7 TV shows you can't miss this week...

1. Louis Theroux's Forbidden America

Sunday at 9pm on BBC Two

In his first series of completely new material since Altered States in 2018, documentary maker Louis Theroux returns to the USA to explore the impact of the internet and social media on some of the most controversial corners of American society.

Travelling the length and breadth of the United States, Louis meets an assortment of fascinating and sometimes troubling content creators: young streamers who promote far-right views; rappers who commodify their often chaotic lifestyles; and porn performers making their income via subscription-based social media accounts and using their new autonomy to call out bad - and occasionally illegal - behaviour by alleged industry predators.

In this first episode, Louis Theroux meets the young and highly inflammatory figures of the latest incarnation of the American far right: a political movement born out of the internet but making its presence felt in the real world, including some of those who came to the broader public's attention through the notorious Capitol Hill riots.

Louis immerses himself in a growing online community that has navigated the threats of de-platforming to gather a vast audience on phones and laptops around the world, promoting an ideology that is racist, misogynistic, homophobic and anti-Semitic, often packaging the most extreme views as irony.

With the movement’s most prominent voices having an increasing influence away from the digital realm, Louis attempts to understand their recent surge in popularity and challenges the divisive rhetoric that is being streamed to millions of young viewers online.

1/3 Continues weekly

2. Bel-Air

Monday 14th and Friday 18th February on Peacock (available on Sky)

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an iconic nineties television comedy recognised the world over, which launched the screen career of Will Smith, who plays a fictionalised version of himself that famously moves to live in Bel-Air, California with his Auntie and Uncle.

In March 2019, a promising young filmmaker called Morgan Cooper spent $25k to create a 4-minute short called Bel-Air which reimagined the hit sitcom as a dark, gritty drama. That video went viral and caught the attention of Will Smith who was instrumental in Peacock greenlighting the series with a two-season order, of which Will is now one of the executive producers.

Set in modern-day America, this new one-hour drama imagines The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air through a new, dramatic take on Will’s complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air.

As these two worlds collide, Will reckons with the power of second chances while navigating the conflicts, emotions, and biases of a world far different from the only one he’s ever known.

Newcomer Jabari Banks takes on the role of Will alongside Olly Sholotan as Carlton, Coco Jones as Hilary, Akira Akbar as Ashley and Cassandra Freeman as Vivian and Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey.

Read my interview with Jimmy Akingbola here.

1-3,4/10 Continues weekly on Fridays

3. Traces

Tuesday 15th February at 9pm on Alibi

After a successful first series in 2019, which was later repeated in BBC One in 2021, Alibi's six-part drama Traces, starring Martin Compston, Molly Windsor, Laura Fraser, Jennifer Spence and Michael Nardone is back for a second series.

Lab Assistant Emma Hedges is now training to be a forensic chemist and is on the cusp of seeing her mother’s murder case finally resolved in the eyes of the law and Daniel is to give evidence against his father in the High Court. Will Emma and Daniel’s relationship withstand the pressure? Will justice be served?

Meanwhile, Emma’s friends and mentors at The Scottish Institute of Forensic Science and Anatomy are investigating a deadly bombing campaign. A series of homemade devices are going off in and around Dundee, with critical clues hidden inside the bombs themselves. Pressure mounts. The city is on edge. With only bomb fragments surviving each blast, the forensic work is especially exacting and public expectation especially high.

When body parts wash up in a nearby loch, Professors Sarah Gordon and Kathy Torrance need all the tenacity and self-belief they can muster to get to the truth as their work is questioned. Professional and personal allegiances become entangled. When a bomb fails to detonate it must surely offer a forensic gift. Will the team track down the bomber before their identity goes up in smoke?

1/6 Continues weekly. All episodes available at launch

4. jeen-yuhs: a Kanye Trilogy

Wednesday 16th February on Netflix

If you've already devoured the Janet Jackson documentary, then fear not because this week sees the release of a new three-part landmark documentary event, jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy, directed by Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah.

Twenty-one years ago, Clarence 'Coodie' Simmons met Kanye West and saw something so special that he moved from Chicago to New York City to document Ye's journey to become the next great rapper. Neither of them had any idea where just how far that journey would take them.

This intimate and revealing portrait of Kanye West’s experience is presented in three acts, showcasing both his formative days trying to break through and his life today as a global brand and artist.

From his budding producer days to his rise to global icon, this documentary chronicles 21 years of West’s life and legacy. We meet the college dropout who produced for Jay-Z, fought for a record deal, won 22 Grammy Awards and became one of the most controversial figures in pop culture.

The three-part event features hours of legendary footage, including studio sessions, live performances, West’s conversations with his late mother and appearances from top musicians like Jay-Z, Jamie Foxx, Common, Mos Def, Scarface and Beyoncé.


5. Mo Gilligan: There's Mo To Life

Thursday 17th February on Netflix

Man of the moment Mo Gilligan has just hosted The BRIT Awards, has been handed two further series of his Channel 4 show The Lateish Show and now he's back with his second Netflix special, There's Mo To Life.

The hour-long special sees the award-winning comedian follow his 2021 nationwide tour by taking centre stage at the sold-out Hammersmith Apollo, exploring his teenage years, working in retail, relationship dynamics and much more.


6. The Marvelous Mrs Maisel

Friday 18th February on Amazon Prime Video

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, from renowned creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and executive producer Daniel Palladino, is finally back after over two years for its fourth season.

It's 1960 and change is in the air. Looking to hone her act, Midge finds a gig with total creative freedom. But her commitment to her craft and the places it takes her creates a rift between her and the family and friends around her.

The edgy, uncompromising, and hilarious new season includes guest appearances from Kelly Bishop, Milo Ventimiglia, John Waters, and Jason Alexander.

1-2/8 Continues weekly with two new episodes

7. Severance

Friday 18th February on Apple TV+

With one brand new drama launching almost every week between now and the start of May on Apple TV+, their latest, Severance, stars Patricia Arquette and Adam Scott, has been created by Dan Erickson and directed and executive produced by Ben Stiller.

Mark Scout leads a team at Lumon Industries, whose employees have undergone a severance procedure, which surgically divides their memories between their work and personal lives.

This daring experiment in “work-life balance” is called into question as Mark finds himself at the centre of an unravelling mystery that will force him to confront the true nature of his work… and of himself.

1-2/9 Continue weekly


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