Your TV GPS, Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s look at the week ahead in television, appears every Monday morning on BostonGlobe.com. Today’s column covers May 31-June 6.
This Thursday night, two long-lived shows, NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” are ending for the season.
At a time when scripted cable and streaming series tend to end after five or six short seasons, it’s remarkable that the networks are still holding onto to these old shows — and, more than holding onto them, they’re still creating spinoffs from them.
“Law & Order: SVU” is finishing up its 22nd season, with its 494th episode. It is the longest-lasting scripted live-action series in the United States (“The Simpsons” is the longest-lasting scripted series, with 32 seasons and 706 episodes). “Grey’s Anatomy” is finishing up its 17th season, with its 380th episode. For comparison, Netflix’s “Ozark” is ending after its next, fourth season (with 44 episodes), and HBO’s “Six Feet Under” and AMC’s “Breaking Bad” lasted for five seasons (63 and 62 episodes, respectively).
In some ways, “Law & Order: SVU” and “Grey’s Anatomy” could be put into the soap opera category. Each has many ongoing plots, most of them laden with melodrama, big cliffhangers, and involved backstories. They are cross-generational narratives, like “General Hospital,” that can go on as long as fans will still watch, with characters who become parents and grandparents over the years.
The story lines ultimately repeat themselves, but no one much cares. They’re comfort shows, peopled with characters that viewers have followed into and out of the same predicaments over the years.
WHAT I’M WATCHING THIS WEEK
1. It’s about time for another Stephen King adaptation, this one screen-written by the master himself. “Lisey’s Story,” which premieres Friday on Apple TV+, stars Julianne Moore as the widow of a famous writer (played by Clive Owen, her costar in “Children of Men”). She looks back over her marriage and her husband’s tendency to get “unstuck to reality,” as Moore’s Lisey puts it in the trailer; meanwhile, a superfan is after some unpublished manuscripts. It also stars Joan Allen, Ron Cephas Jones, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Dane DeHaan.
2. Forget about Girls5eva. “We Are Lady Parts,” Thursday on Peacock, is also about a girl band, but one of the punk persuasion. Called Lady Parts and based in London, the Muslim band hires an anxious, geeky PhD student to be their lead guitarist. Prepare to have your stereotypes gleefully stomped upon.
3. It’s finally time for “The 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors,” Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBS. This year, the recipients include one of my all-time favorites, Dick Van Dyke, whose eponymous series remains one of TV’s best sitcoms. Also getting their due: Garth Brooks, Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, and Midori. Gloria Estefan hosts, and Yo-Yo Ma performs.
4. The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre took place 100 years ago, and a trio of shows revisits it on Monday night. “Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street” is on CNN at 9 p.m. “Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten” is on GBH 2 at 9 p.m. And “Tulsa 1921: An American Tragedy” is on CBS at 10 p.m.
5. Based on Anaïs Nin’s erotic short stories, “Little Birds” follows New York heiress Lucy Savage (Juno Temple) to Tangier, where she marries a poor, closeted gay man. The six-episode British series, which premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. on Starz, is set in 1955, and the cast includes Amy Landecker, David Costabile, Hugh Skinner, and Matt Lauria.
6. “Feel Good” is Canadian comic Mae Martin’s semi-autobiographical story of her history as an addict and being involved with a “straight” woman. The Netflix show returns for a second six-episode season on Friday, as Mae gets back into rehab. A big added plus in this show: Lisa Kudrow costars as Mae’s mother.
“The Jihadist” A “Frontline” look into the fight over the future of Syria. GBH 2, Tuesday, 10 p.m.
“Domina” An eight-part drama about the rise of Emperor Augustus Caesar’s third wife, Livia Drusilla. Epix, Sunday, 10 p.m.
“In Treatment” A decent revival of the classic therapy series, this time starring Uzo Aduba. HBO
“Hacks” Jean Smart shines plays as a legendary comic mentoring a young comedy writer. HBO Max
“Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” The second season is a giddy take on power in the workplace. Apple TV+
“Girls5eva” A lively, goofy comedy in which a late-1990s girl group considers a comeback. Peacock
“Mosquito Coast” A series adaptation of Paul Theroux’s 1981 novel that’s more action-adventure tale than character study. Apple TV+
“Rutherford Falls” Ed Helms stars in this warm comedy about the erased Native American history of a small Northeast town. Peacock