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TV: Five shows worth watching tonight: May 22

Your select viewing guide for Tuesday, May 22

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REALITY My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding TLC, 7 p.m.- 2 a.m. ET; 4 p.m. - 11 p.m. Not to be confused with the popular series My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding – which documents the spirited gypsy lifestyle in England, Ireland and elsewhere in Europe – this sequel series focuses on their U.S. counterparts. So where are the American gypsies? In accordance with the supposedly secretive gypsy lifestyle, the show is filmed in secret locations throughout Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and West Virginia, where the families reside in campers, trailers and occasionally rental homes. As per the U.K. edition, the series concentrates primarily on young women, most of whom are actively looking for a husband by the age of 13. Tonight's eight-hour viewing kicks off with the series opener in which one young woman gets remarried in a fantastically lavish wedding, while another infuriates her parents by rebelling against gypsy tradition.

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HISTORY Civilization: The West and the Rest with Niall Ferguson PBS, 8 p.m. ET/PT Scottish-born historian and author Niall Ferguson documents the rise – and inevitable fall – of Western civilization in this new documentary series. Airing tonight and next Tuesday, the four-hour historical treatise is the TV version of Ferguson's book of the same name, wherein he identifies six “killer apps” that enabled the West to rise to global dominance. His six principles of prosperity: competition, science, modern medicine, democracy, consumerism and work ethic. To drive home his point, Ferguson repeatedly compares civilizations modern and ancient during visits to sprawling city centres. On respective trips to the Yangtze and Thames rivers, he recounts the events that turned the tide of power flowing from East to West; while touring Dakar and Paris, he explains how the advent of medicine revolutionized Europe's colonial control in Africa.

Dewald Aukema

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DRAMA Glee Fox, Global, 9 p.m. ET/PT Well, the glee club had to finish high school eventually, right? Tonight's third-season finale brings graduation day at McKinley High and we should expect that several cast regulars won't be around when Glee returns for its fourth season next September. Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes, has already confirmed she's not coming back. Spunky regular Dianna Agron (Quinn) has also hinted at new opportunities. And it's a safe bet Canadian-born Cory Monteith, who plays Finn, won't be back, considering he recently turned 30. In a recent interview with E! Online, series regular Lea Michele, who plays Rachel, confirmed the show will follow several characters as they enroll at the fictional New York Academy of Dramatic Arts next season (so long, Kurt) and tonight's finale will feature a “big cliffhanger” for her character and sweetheart Finn.


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DOCUMENTARY Frontline PBS, 10 p.m. ET/PT The constant consumer push for faster and better cell-phone service comes with a shocking human cost. Tonight's joint investigation by Frontline correspondents and reporters from the non-profit newsroom ProPublica delivers a startling profile of the independent contractors responsible for building and maintaining America's massive cellular infrastructure. According to one recent study, cellular workers are ten times more likely to die on the job than the average construction worker. Incredibly, most of the major companies are protected from accountability in the deaths of workers due to the layers upon layers of subcontracting in the industry. Besides driving down costs, the subcontracting makes it nearly impossible for the government to prosecute negligent cell carriers.

Courtesy Bridget Pierce Guilford

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MOVIE Wings of Desire TCM, 10:15 p.m. ET; 7:15 p.m. PT This flighty fantasy story earned the best director award for German film auteur Wim Wenders at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. Set in eighties-era West Berlin, when the city was still enclosed by the Berlin Wall, the story follows two ethereal angels, Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander), as they float above the crowded city in search of troubled souls. Defying all the rules, Damiel takes human form after meeting the lonely trapeze artist Marion (Solveig Dommartin) and for the first time he experiences the human traits of lust and longing. In an odd subplot, the late Peter Falk, aka Columbo, shows up to play himself, and it turns out he was formerly an angel, too. Weird, yet hauntingly beautiful.


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Dateline NBC: 20th Anniversary Special NBC, 10 p.m. ET/PT Happy birthday, Dateline! Launched in early 1992, the sturdy newsmagazine marks its 20th year on the air with this retro-special helmed by current host Lester Holt. The program is scheduled to feature clips of the most memorable interviews conducted by Dateline correspondents from over the years. Among them: Jane Pauley’s 2003 sit-down with Canada’s Michael J. Fox, in which he talked about his struggles with Parkinson’s disease; Tom Brokaw’s 2005 interview with Aron Ralston, the hiker who became trapped in a Utah canyon and was forced to amputate his own arm; and Ann Curry’s 1997 profile of the McCaughey septuplets, who today are happy and healthy teenagers.

Peter Kramer/© NBCUniversal, Inc.

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