Watching: If You Need a Pick-Me-Up …

Try a dog show.

Author Headshot

By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

The Metropolitan Opera announced today that it’s canceling its entire 2020-21 season. While screen-mediated broadcasts can’t replace live performances, I’m curious to see the new ways TV and streaming outlets might attempt to fill at least some of that void, at least for a bit.

Be safe, be rad, and we’ll see you Friday.


You know what, I want to give my dog a haircut

Hello, Bianca!John P. Johnson

‘Haute Dog’

When to watch: Arrives Thursday, on HBO Max.

The next time you have a day when you find yourself texting things like “hope they make a true-crime documentary about how it’s only 2 p.m. lol,” when you cite the “It Only Tuesday” Onion classic or when you have to reset more than two passwords, watch “Haute Dog,” the new HBO Max dog-grooming competition series. It is the fun kind of dumb, and there are six dogs per episode, all getting funky dog haircuts. Hooray!


“Haute Dog” is a good distillation of the current moment for unscripted shows. It has half-hour episodes and “Nailed It!”-inspired jokey commentary from the judges — the comedian Robin Thede and the groomer Jess Rona — and the host, the comedian Matt Rogers. The show includes both human and canine drag queens, it has a strong social media angle thanks to Rona’s popular and glorious Instagram, and while it’s not hokey-hokey feel good, it is peppy. It’s also on a streaming platform that a lot of people don’t have and some can’t access even if they want to. (HBO Max isn’t available through Roku or Amazon Fire.) That’s a 2020 show if ever there were.

There are six episodes of “Haute Dog,” and you should limit yourself to two per sitting. Otherwise, it becomes a little brittle and you start thinking: “Wait, is it morally neutral to bejewel a dog’s haunch, or is that an instance of grotesque waste? Or actually, is it an instance of joyful creativity and expression that harms no one? But that assumes the people who fabricate dog-butt-bedazzling materials work in just conditions … Is this what’s wrong with society or what’s right with it?” And on and on.

Anyway, again: a real 2020 show.

For other dog materials, consider “Well Groomed,” a documentary about over-the-top creative dog grooming, which is available on HBO. The 2008 competition series “Groomer Has It” is not available to stream, but a bonkers 2011 episode of “Tabatha Takes Over,” in which Tabatha takes over a doggy day care and grooming facility called Barkingham Palace, is on YouTube. And here are all the “Dog Show” sketches from “Saturday Night Live.”


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