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What to watch: 10 shows premiering in January

Forest Whitaker attends a photo call at the 75th Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2022. The multi-award-winning actor stars as Bumpy Johnson in the third season of "Godfather of Harlem" for MGM+. File Photo by Rune Hellestad/UPI
1 of 5 | Forest Whitaker attends a photo call at the 75th Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2022. The multi-award-winning actor stars as Bumpy Johnson in the third season of "Godfather of Harlem" for MGM+. File Photo by Rune Hellestad/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- It's a new year and that means TV premieres. While movies premiering in January are considered less prestigious -- the window is usually the dumping ground for films with low expectations or ones viewed as people-pleasing, but not awards-worthy -- the same isn't true for TV.

There is an array of diverse shows in the first month of the year; everything from popular reality shows to new show premieres to documentaries, to returning favorites. And, January kicks off Hollywood's award season. Here are 10 shows to watch.

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'RuPaul's Drag Race' -- MTV, Jan. 6

The perennial award-winning RuPaul's Drag Race returns to MTV for its 15th season where drag contestants compete for the $200K top prize. For the first time, twins join the competition. This season, special guest judges are Maren Morris, Janelle Monaé, Orville Peck, Hayley Kiyoko, Amandla Stenberg, Julia Garner, Ali Wong and Megan Stalter.

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Ariana Grande makes her return in the two-episode premiere. And of course, host RuPaul, along with judges Carson Kressley, Michelle Visage and Ross Mathews will preside over the popular competition that separates the contenders from the pretenders. The series premieres on Jan. 6 at 8 p.m. EST.

'BMF'-- Starz, Jan. 6

If you could imagine that an infamous drug dealer's legacy would be his son convincingly playing him in a series about his escapades, well, that's the very definition of truth being stranger than fiction. It's the basis of BMF, the Starz series about Detroit's Flenory brothers, who formed the Black Mafia Family, one of the most successful drug operations in American history.

That's until Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory and Terry "Southwest T" Flenory were arrested and jailed for their crimes. In 2020, Terry was given compassionate release due to falling health, but Demetrius remains incarcerated. His son, Demetrius Flenory, Jr. portrays him on the 50-Cent-produced show, which airs its second season on Starz on Jan. 6.

'A Year on Planet Earth' -- Fox Nation, Jan. 8

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Nature documentaries are nothing new, but as A Year On Planet Earth shows, there's always something fresh you can learn from them. This six-episode series takes a deeper view of the planet we all share. Per the synopsis: "A Year on Planet Earth was filmed over 3 years in more than 60 locations across the world.

Making a series on this scale would be impossible without the collaboration of scientists, conservationists, and community members. They uncover new behavior, use pioneering and inventive techniques, and even put their lives on the line to protect the animals who share our fragile home. These are their stories."

'The Golden Globes' -- NBC, Jan. 10

The Golden Globes hopes to regain respectability after making its return to broadcast TV post-scandal. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association responded to accusations about their finances and lack of diversity by making changes in their membership to include more journalists of color.

This year, they are giving the Cecil B. DeMille award to Eddie Murphy. Among their top nominees are Abbott Elementary and the Oscar buzzy Banshees of Inisherin. We just hope the Globes haven't changed their open bar policy, which has led to 'interesting' speeches in the past.

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'The Mayfair Witches' -- AMC, BBC America, IFC, SundanceTV, WeTV, AMC+, Jan. 8

Anne Rice's vampire chronicles have become prime adaptation material for AMC, which has committed to bringing the late author's works to the small screen. In a new show, The Mayfair Witches, Alexandra Daddario plays Rowan Fielding, a neurosurgeon who discovers she's descended from a family of witches. AMC is so committed to the series that they are simulcasting it on five channels, including their streamer AMC+.

'The Critics Choice Awards' -- The CW, Jan. 15

Chelsea Handler will host The 28th annual Critics Choice Awards live from the Fairmount Century Plaza in L.A. Abbott Elementary, already an Emmy winner, is the top TV nominee with six, while Better Call Saul is right behind it at five. Everything Everywhere All at Once leads movie nominees with 14, including a Best Actress nod for veteran Michelle Yeoh. Singer/actress Janelle Monae will receive the See Her Award.

'Godfather of Harlem'-- MGM+, Jan. 15

Based on the real-life gangster Bumpy Johnson's bloody rule of Harlem from the '30s to the '60s, Godfather of Harlem debuts its third season on the newly dubbed MGM+ (formerly Epix). Played by actor Forest Whitaker, this season finds the gangster walking a fine line between his affiliations with Black leader Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch) and the Italian mob. Whoopi Goldberg makes a cameo, Giancarlo Esposito plays Harlem congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and Kelvin Harrison, Jr. (The High Note, Waves) is musician Teddy Greene.

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'The Last of Us' -- HBO, Jan.15

Post-apocalyptic dramas were always popular until the pandemic made them seem more like documentaries. But fans of the genre should welcome HBO's new series The Last of Us, which has as dark a dystopian future as its creators could imagine. The series follows Joel (Pedro Pascal of The Mandalorian) who must transport teenager Ellie, (Bella Ramsey) across the United States while avoiding a plague that has turned humans into "zombie-like" creatures. Merle Dandridge, Gabriel Luna, and Anna Torv are also in the series, based on the popular 2013 video game Last of Us.

'That '90s Show' -- Netflix, Jan. 19

Yes, That '70s Show is back, rebooted as That '90s Show. Since the '90s is a decade currently experiencing a nostalgic comeback among millennials, it makes perfect sense. With returning stars Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, who are married with kids, it should hit all those warm and fuzzy spots the original series did. Wilmer Valderrama, Don Stark, and Tommy Chong are returning as well.

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'Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World' -- PBS, PBS.org, Jan. 31

Since 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of hip hop, Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World is a timely showcase of the art form. The four-part series, featuring rap icon Chuck D of Public Enemy, explores the origins of the genre and how it evolved into a global phenomenon.

"The hip hop community has, from the start, been doing what the rest of media is only now catching up to," Chuck D said in a statement. "Long before any conglomerate realized it was time to wake up, hip hop had been speaking out and telling truths. Working with PBS and BBC is an opportunity to deliver these messages through new ways and help explain hip hop's place in history and hopefully inspire us all to take it further."

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