Our Staff Picks: TV Shows to Watch the Week of Jan. 15, 2018

Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV.

Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Black Lightning” and “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” make their debuts.

Black Lightning,” The CW, Tuesday, 9 p.m.

The new DC superhero adaptation will debut this week. The series follows Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams), a high school principal and father of two who previously fought injustice as the superhero Black Lightning. Gifted with the ability to control electricity, he was forced to give up his crimefighting ways. But when the vicious street gang The One Hundred threatens his newfound peace, he is pressed back into action.

“American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” FX, Wednesday, 10 p.m.

The second installment of Ryan Murphy’s acclaimed anthology series explores the events leading up to the death of famed fashion designer Gianni Versace at the hands of spree killer Andrew Cunanan in 1997. The series is based in part on the non-fiction book “Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History” by Maureen Orth.

“Portlandia,” IFC, 10 p.m.

The critically-acclaimed sketch comedy series from Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, and Jonathan Krisel returns for its eighth and final season this week. The final season will feature appearances by former guest stars like Ed Begley Jr., Jeff Goldblum, and Kyle MacLachlan along with new guest stars Rachel Bloom, Terry Crews, Rashida Jones, and Tracee Ellis Ross.

Grace and Frankie,” Netflix, Friday

The Netflix series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin debuts its fourth season this week. In the new season, Friends” alum and Emmy winner Lisa Kudrow will join the show in a guest-starring arc as Sheree, Grace’s longtime manicurist whose newfound friendship with Grace irks Frankie and threatens to drive a wedge between the titular ladies.

“Counterpart,” Starz, Sunday, 9 p.m. (CRITICS’ PICK)

This smart and stylish drama is likely to please anyone who enjoys spy thrillers, the work of J.K. Simmons and Olivia Williams, or the sequence of celebrated dual-universe “Fringe” episodes that aired several years ago. “Counterpart” leans much more on espionage and thriller conventions than science fiction tropes, but it does use the idea of the existence of a parallel universe to explore ideas about identity, possibility and connection. It’s an efficient and entertaining show, and it’s a terrific showcase for its entire cast, especially the versatile and brilliant Simmons. 

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