Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Perry Mason solves the mystery of what you’re doing with your Sunday nights

Matthew Rhys in a hat.
Matthew Rhys in a hat.
Photo: Merrick Morton (HBO)

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Sunday, June 21. All times are Eastern. 


Top pick

Perry Mason (HBO, 9 p.m., series premiere): “One of our first views of Perry Mason onscreen is him snapping salacious pictures for a studio head concerned about a Fatty Arbuckle-type character violating the morals clause (boy, is he ever). This Perry can’t even get an egg splotch (or is it mustard?) off of his tie when his old mentor, E.B. Jonathan (John Lithgow), comes calling to draft him for the biggest case in the city, leading him to trawling for dead men’s ties in the morgue instead.

The biggest case of 1932 Los Angeles involves the most tragic of crimes—a child murder—and Perry Mason leads off with a disturbing image around the premiere’s five-minute mark that the viewer may have trouble shaking for the rest of the series. To its credit, the visage is meant to be shocking enough to jar this scruffy Perry Mason into stop wasting his laser-sharp mind and help bring the monsters who did this to justice. Along with some full-frontal nudity that soon follows, it also seems intended to assert right out of the gate that this is not your grandpa’s Perry Mason. [Matthew] Rhys is always a joy to witness, and he’s all in here—if you can look past the six-o’clock stubble, his Mason possesses just enough smarmy charm to make you want to root for him, even as he’s clearly his own worst enemy.” Click here to read the rest of Gwen Ihnat’s pre-air review; Allison Shoemaker will recap weekly.

A quick note about I May Destroy You: Our coverage of Michaela Coel’s excellent new HBO series continues, but beginning this week, it now airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. Look for Ashley Ray-Harris’ recaps on Monday evenings from now on.

Regular coverage

Snowpiercer (TNT, 9 p.m.)

Wild cards

John Legend and Family: A Bigger Love Father’s Day (ABC, 8 p.m., one-hour special): John “I have an EGOT at the ripe old age of 41” Legend hosts this variety special featuring “celebrity dads” Stevie Wonder, Anthony Anderson, Shaquille O’Neal, Common, Scottie Pippen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Patton Oswalt, among others. His kids are extremely cute.

Lucy Worsley’s Royal Myths And Secrets (PBS, 8 p.m, miniseries premiere): Lucy Worsley’s immensely soothing blend of history, cosplay, and re-enactments gets dialed up to 11 in this three-part miniseries, which unpacks some of the great myths in royal history and looks at how those myths have shaped our perception of the world. It’s a crash course in myth vs. reality, with a healthy dose of costumed hijinks.

Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj (Netflix, 3:01 a.m.) and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO, 11:20 p.m.): As has been the case for the last several weeks, it’s probably a good night to catch one or both of these shows.

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!