Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Margaret offers hyper-specific viewing recommendations in our Watching newsletter. Read her latest picks below, and sign up for the Watching newsletter here.
This weekend I have … 80 minutes, and I care about late-night
When to watch: Now, on Peacock.
This new documentary is about the week in 1968 when Harry Belafonte hosted “The Tonight Show,” sitting in for Johnny Carson. His guests included entertainers like Aretha Franklin, Lena Horne, Nipsey Russell and Buffy Sainte-Marie, and also political leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. Sadly, not all of the footage has survived. But in a moment when the mutual feedback loop of TV, politics and racism continues to engulf us all, it’s worth examining instances when pop culture breaks out of its worst ruts — and why some of those instances are largely forgotten.
… 2 hours, and they never felt this way I bet
‘Romeo and Juliet’
When to watch: Friday at 9 p.m., on PBS. (Check local listings.)
As our pandemic isolation continues, performing arts programming has been both a vital joy and also a quiet heartbreaker. Watching a recording of a live show sometimes feels like it’s just rubbing its now-alien live qualities in your face: You know that tiny thrill of being able to tell exactly who clapped the last clap at the end of a round of applause? Well, who knows when you’ll experience that again? Enjoy this video of an opera! This terrific adaptation of the ballet “Romeo and Juliet” — directed by Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, set to Sergei Prokofiev’s score, choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan, and starring William Bracewell and Francesca Hayward — is a bright relief, then. It’s a movie that was always meant to be a movie; dreamy, intimate and expressive.
… many, many hours, and change is possible
When to watch: Now, on Hulu.
Season 7 of this CBS sitcom is now streaming, and even though the jokes aren’t very good, the stories are. Because this is a show about sobriety, its themes involving self-acceptance, meaningful friendship and the ability to endure and contextualize pain are often telling a grander tale than the sitcom mugging would suggest. Anna Faris recently announced that she is leaving the show, but the show has reinvented itself a few times already. As long as Allison Janney is still on board, “Mom” will be fine.