If you need to escape the heat and unwind this summer, dive into Media Manda’s latest list of TV trends. Her most recent reviews cover everything from the newest dance competition to exclusive interviews with Vladimir Putin. Check out what Media Manda has to say below and see if you think they’re worth the watch!

by Amanda Thornton AKA Media Manda
Development Assistant, Red Arrow Industries

WORLD OF DANCE – NBC, airs Tuesdays at 10pm

A panel of dance superstars, including Jennifer Lopez, Derek Hough, NE-YO and host Jenna Dewan Tatum, judge the performances of dancers of all ages and styles. Competitors must make it past the qualifying rounds for the chance to enter the main competition. Judges score the acts using the following criteria: performance, technique, choreography, creativity, and presentation. The competition consists of five rounds: qualifiers, duels, the cut, divisional finals, and the grand final. In each round, the dancers showcase their talents for the opportunity to win the life-altering prize of $1 million.

See trailer for World of Dance

Review: World of Dance is the newest summer reality series, airing after America’s Got Talent on NBC. After watching one episode I find it to be just okay. It’s reminiscent of an international version of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew series that aired in 2008, even featuring the Jabbawockeez team from that series. Jennifer Lopez pulls double duty, producing and judging on the show. I really think they could have gotten a different judge with more experience in dancing, but I guess since she’s the executive producer, she can do whatever she wants. Another questionable aspect of the show is the scoring system with the show. They need to score an average of 80 to go to the next main competition, but how it all adds up to that seems a little contrived and complicated. All in all, it’s like any other dance series and nothing special. The only interesting thing its got going is that the dancers competing are from all over the world.


THE PUTIN INTERVIEWS – Showtime, 4 part series airing June 12-June 15

Academy Award winning filmmaker Oliver Stone was granted unprecedented access to Russian president Vladimir Putin during more than a dozen interviews over two years, with no topic off-limits. This four-part documentary series provides intimate insight into Putin’s personal and professional lives, from his childhood under communism, to his rise to power, his relations with four U.S. presidents, and his surprising takes on U.S.-Russian relations today. Witness the most detailed portrait of Putin ever granted to a Western interviewer.

See trailer for The Putin Interviews

Review: I’ve seen bits and pieces of the four-part documentary series. Those bits look very interesting. Oliver Stone interviews Putin in film recordings over the course of two years. One critique that’s been thrown at this series is that Stone is not a good interviewer. He doesn’t push Putin on some questions where he should.  One interesting thing from the little bit I’ve seen was when Stone asked Putin why Russia annexed Crimea. Putin’s reasoning was that Crimea wanted to be a part of Russia, because it used to be a part of Russia, so they just took back what should have been theirs anyways. In other answers, Putin’s reasoning is to make Russia the victim in everything. This is a fascinating series to watch if you’re interested in learning more about Russia’s point of view on what’s going on in the world today.


RISK – Showtime, documentary film premiering July 22

In the new world order where a single keystroke can alter history, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is undeterred – even as the legal jeopardy he faces threatens to undermine the organization he leads and fracture the movement he inspired. Capturing this story with unprecedented access, Academy Award winning director of Citizenfour, Laura Poitras finds herself caught between the motives and contradictions of Assange and his inner circle in a documentary portrait of power, betrayal, truth and sacrifice.

See trailer for Risk

Review: I’ve been looking forward to this documentary since seeing the trailer. When the first cut of this movie premiered to critics at 2016’s Film Festival, critics panned it for being too pro-Julian Assange. Now, it seems the director, Laura Poitras has heard the negativity and the final cut has been edited to be more of a first-person geopolitical thriller told from the perspective of the filmmaker. We’ll see if it lives up to the hype but I personally can’t wait.


PROMPOSAL – MTV, airs Mondays at 10:30pm

MTV’s new series Promposal will take the audience on the creative, romantic and outlandish journey of asking someone to prom. From a Zombie themed promposal to a choreographed flash mob, the six-episode, 30-minute series will highlight teens pulling out all the stops to land their dream date.

See trailer for Promposal

Review: MTV must really miss My Super Sweet 16. First they rebooted that show and now they’re airing Promposal. I watched some clips of this show and it is just as cheesy and overly dramatic as My Super Sweet 16. Instead of soon-to-be 16 year olds crying over how their big day isn’t going their way, it’s hormonal teenagers crying over how their big prom-posal isn’t going their way. So, all in all, this is a good guilty pleasure TV show to watch when you can’t find anything on television.


ORPHAN BLACK – BBC America, season 5 premieres June 10

From the moment Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) locked eyes with an unknown identical woman, who jumped to her death, her life has never been the same. She’s found out she’s a clone, that there are multiple clones out there, and multiple factions that sought to hunt, control, betray or kill them. Now, the final showdown with Rachel (Tatiana Maslany) — the one clone at the center of it all who’s sought to destroy her and her sestras from Day One — begins. And as the walls close in on her, Sarah must decide her next move very carefully, for this time, it’s life or death for everyone she loves.

See trailer for Orphan Black, Season 5

Review: In case you’ve been living under a rock the last 5 years and haven’t heard of the Canadian national treasure that is Tatiana Maslany, let me give you the rundown. She rose to fame because of this crazy clone show known as Orphan Black, and plays over 10 different distinct clones on the series. Now that she’s won the Emmy award for Best Actress, we can all rest easy this final season knowing she’s finally been recognized for her outstanding work.


GLOW – Netflix, season one is uploaded in full June 23

Alison Brie stars as Ruth Wilder, an out-of-work actress living in Los Angeles in the ’80s. Wilder finds an unexpected chance at stardom: enter the glitter and spandex-laden world of women’s wrestling, where she must work alongside 12 other Hollywood misfits. Marc Maron plays the role of Sam Sylvia, a washed-up director of “B” movies who tries to lead the group of women to fame.

See trailer for GLOW

Review: I’m really excited for this series mainly because it comes from producer Jenji Kohan (creator of Orange is the New Black and Weeds). I feel like Orange is the New Black has been losing some steam with the newest season 5 and it’s nice to have a fresh series from her and her team of writers. The creator of the series was the show runner for Nurse Jackie as well. I just hope that GLOW doesn’t fall into the trap of Nurse Jackie and Orange is the New Black where the series goes on for too long and drags in the later seasons. What’s not to love about GLOW though? It’s got 1980’s hair, music, clothes, and diverse badass women in a wrestling league! Here’s hoping it’s as good as it looks.


OKJA – Netflix, film premieres June 23

For 10 idyllic years, young Mija has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja – a massive animal and an even bigger friend – at her home in the mountains of South Korea. But that changes when family-owned, multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation takes Okja for themselves and transports her to New York, where an image-obsessed and self-promoting CEO has big plans for Mija’s dearest friend. With no particular plan but single-minded in intent, Mija sets out on a rescue mission.

See trailer for Okja

Review: This film has rave reviews from critics but became part of a larger debate overseas recently where it premiered at multiple film festivals. Cannes Film Festival passed a new rule aimed at streaming services like Netflix where they will not screen any movies at the festival that do not have theatrical releases in French theaters. For example, there’s a law in France where movies cannot be added to streaming services until 36 months after the initial theatrical release. Okja is from the South Korean director of Snowpiercer, Bong Joon-Ho. This is his second English-language film to date, and if you’ve never seen Snowpiercer, do yourself a favor and add it to your list. Okja reminds me of what would happen if someone thought of a cool anime film idea and decided to make it live action instead. Just imagine this done by Spirited Away’s director Hayao Miyazaki. All in all, I look forward to seeing this film because Snowpiercer was amazing.