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

Sherman’s Showcase returns with its “Black History Month Spectacular”

Illustration for article titled Sherman’s Showcase returns with its “Black History Month Spectacular”
Photo: AMC/IFC

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Friday, June 19, and Saturday, June 20. All times are Eastern.


Top picks

Sherman’s Showcase: “Black History Month Spectacular” (Friday, 10 p.m. on AMC and 11 p.m. on IFC, one-hour special): Created by and starring South Side’s Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle, the sharp, surreal, and consistently entertaining Sherman’s Showcase is returning on Juneteenth with this one-hour special. The word “timely” is getting trotted out a lot these days, and yes, it applies here as well, even though it’s not officially Black History Month. But this is an unsurprisingly excellent hour, and if you’ve yet to experience this delirious Soul Train parody—though to call it that is to reduce its wildness and complexity down to its admittedly entertaining premise—there’s no time like the present. And as always, there’s a pack of special guests, including John Legend, Questlove, Michael Ealy, Bresha Webb, Jemele Hill, Lil Rel Howery, Black Thought, and others.

Can you binge it? All eight episodes of the show’s terrific first season await you on Hulu; as each episode clocks in at around 22 minutes, you could binge the whole thing in around three hours and be ready when this special pops up on AMC at 10 (or on IFC at 11, take your pick).

Watchmen (Friday, HBO, marathon begins 1 p.m.; also streaming free all weekend on HBO.com and On Demand): HBO has made this increasingly relevant series available for all throughout the weekend. A marathon begins today at 1 but it will remain available through Sunday, June 21. Here’s some of what our own Erik Adams said in his writeup of the show for our Best Of 2019 list:

Watchmen always deserved to be a miniseries. No one expected it to be this miniseries, a continuation untethered from theatrical run times, cinematic tidiness, or fidelity to the source material, arriving at something searing, surreal, and truly in the spirit of Alan Moore’s costumed-vigilantes-as-fascists philosophy—whether Moore likes it or not. Showrunner Damon Lindelof works from the blueprint (emphasis on “blue”) he set for one of the decade’s best shows: Like The Leftovers, Watchmen is a gutting, occasionally gut-busting contemporary parable set in the wake of a global catastrophe. But the psychic wounds inflicted by a Freudian space squid have nothing on the earthbound racism Watchmen exposes by unmasking American history, in sequences like Nicole Kassell’s harrowing re-staging of the Black Wall Street Massacre and scripts like Cord Jefferson’s splashy mindfuck, “This Extraordinary Being.” It’s a superhero show about so much more for a superhero-obsessed, so-much-more era, every episode an “Avengers assemble” roll call of onscreen excellence: Regina King, Jean Smart, Jeremy Irons, Louis Gossett Jr., Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Hong Chau.

Regular coverage

RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars (VH1, Friday, 8 p.m.)

On stage At home

Small Island (National Theatre Live via YouTube, streaming through June 25): The latest in the treasure trove of performances that the storied National Theatre is sharing for free is this adaptation of Levy’s novel of the same name. It’s a rich, complex novel, but broadly, it centers on the experience of the Jamaican diaspora in London after the second world war, and this stage adaptation was warmly received. There’s also an audio-described version for the visually impaired.

Greenwood (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, streaming through June 25): The seminal dance company, like many other arts institutions around the globe, is sharing performances online; this week’s is Greenwood, choreographer Donald Byrd’s 2019 world premiere, which, like Watchmen, directly addresses the 1921 Black Wall Street Massacre in Tulsa.

Wild cards

It’s time for another Wild Card lightning round.

Miss Juneteenth (available VOD beginning Friday): “A film that transports the viewer to a tender and deeply felt place that’s both culturally specific and widely relatable—and right on time for the Juneteenth holiday, which coincides with the film’s release. The in-person parades and pageants may be canceled this year, but with Miss Juneteenth, there’s still plenty to celebrate.” Click here to read the rest of Katie Rife’s film review.

The Politician (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete second season): Ryan Murphy’s first starry Netflix series returns for a second go-round as Ben Platt’s Payton Hobart squares off against Judith Light and Bette Midler, and honestly, it’s worth a look if only for the pantsuits.

Great Performances: Ann (PBS, 9 p.m.): Written by and starring the impossibly good Holland Taylor, this one-woman show offers a glimpse at the life of Ann Richards, the outspoken Democratic governor of Texas.

Dads (Apple TV+, Friday, 3:01 a.m., documentary premiere): Bryce Dallas Howard’s feature directorial debut is about, yes, Dads, and arrives just in time for Father’s Day. It includes interviews with Judd Apatow, Neil Patrick Harris, Hasan Minhaj, Conan O’Brien, Patton Oswalt, Will Smith, and others, as well as her own dad, Ron Howard.

Floor Is Lava (Netflix, Friday, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): Exactly what it says on the tin.

Barefoot Contessa (Food Network, Saturday, 12:30 p.m.): We feel it is our civic duty to inform you that this episode of Barefoot Contessa is called “Liquor Store Secrets.” We know a lot of us could use some of those right now, and figured a lot of you could too. No trailer for this one, so here’s Ina making a giant, giant cocktail.

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!