Everyone loves to see a familiar face on television, even if it’s just a friend getting interviewed on the news (or better yet, a friend getting arrested on Cops). Reality TV has offered more opportunities for non-actor types to get their 15 minutes — there’s lots of buzz surrounding local musician/BMXer Matt Bischoff and his spot on the upcoming season of Survivor. But this week, Cincinnati will see one of our own competing in one of the most fun, outrageous reality competitions on television: RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season Premiere, 9 p.m. Monday, Logo).
Tony Cody, better known around town and beyond as drag entertainer Penny Tration, had applied to be on Drag Race in the past to no avail. Third time was a charm as the public selected Penny as Facebook fan favorite for Season Five.
The show’s format is similar to other competition series, like Project Runway or America’s Next Top Model. Each week, the queens are tested and judged in challenges that require modeling, dancing, singing, costume and makeup design and usually a few crazy surprise elements. It’s absolute campy entertainment, but these dudes in drag are serious performers. And who can resist the queen supreme, host and mentor RuPaul?
On the home front, Penny performs at tons of local club and charity events and hosts at The Cabaret (above Below Zero Lounge) on Saturdays. Cody makes his own costumes and wigs in a Pendleton studio and sells many of these fabulous creations online. In addition to being a drag superstar, Penny is also a social media maven. Follow @PennyTration for tweets during the L.A. premiere and Monday’s show.
WEDNESDAY JAN 23
Modern Family (9 p.m., ABC) – Gloria’s mom and sister visit from Colombia to help with the new baby but end up adding more drama to the mix; Mitch and Cam are on their best behavior in an effort to curb Lily’s bad habits.
American Horror Story: Asylum (Season Finale, 10 p.m., FX) – We’ll go back to the season premiere, watching the modern couple’s romp through the abandoned Briarcliff, only this time from Son of BF’s perspective
Workaholics (10 p.m., Comedy Central) – The guys believe the office is haunted by a former employee, and when that ghost inhabits Adam’s body, Blake and Ders must perform an exorcism. That’s right, it’s “TelAmerican Horror Story.”
Kroll Show (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central) – Sketch comedy shows might be popping up everywhere, but Kroll actually got me laughing out loud with his spot-on spoofs. This week, the dog plastic surgeon from PubLIZity gets his own spinoff; the Rich Dicks go to Mexico.
THURSDAY JAN. 24
30 Rock (8 p.m., NBC) – Liz tries to motivate the crew in order to save TGS from cancellation; Liz and Criss get unexpected family news; Tracy and Jenna focus on life after TGS; Jack looks for a new NBC prez.
Project Runway Teams (Season Premiere, 9 p.m., Lifetime) – Group projects suck — from grade school science experiments to college assignments to corporate projects. Group challenges on this show exist pretty much only to make designers bump heads and bring the drama. The evil PR overlords, in what’s surely a ratings stunt, decided to make every design challenge a team effort this season. For shame. At least we still have Tim Gunn. (Tune in early for “Road to the Runway Season 11” at 8 p.m.)
FRIDAY JAN. 25
Portlandia (10 p.m., IFC) – The mayor steps down after an environmental scandal; Battle of the Gentle Bands; Peter and Nance’s B&B gets an inspection; Gutterpunks look for a lost cat.
SATURDAY JAN. 26
Saturday Night Live (11:30 p.m., NBC) – Maroon 5’s Adam Levine hosts (I just don’t see this Pop singer’s SNL debut working out Timberlake-style) and Kendrick Lamar performs.
SUNDAY JAN. 27
Girls (9 p.m., HBO) – Hannah decides to write a freelance piece based on cocaine adventures with the help of a junkie neighbor (Jon Glaser). Who’s been anticipating Booth Jonathan’s (Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone) return? Wait no longer. Marnie runs into him at her new job.
Shameless (9 p.m., Showtime) – Lip rounds up the neighborhood crew to track down a convicted child molester who turns out to be a non-threatening Mary Kay Letourneau-type. Veronica snaps when she realizes Kev may have fathered a kid with his ex (to whom he’s still technically married). While Frank scams a cancer foundation for cash, Fiona isn’t willing to go to dirty lengths when presented with an unsavory offer in exchange for a grocery cashier gig.
CONTACT JAC KERN: email@example.com or @jackern