TV Aug. 1-4: John Ware Reclaimed, Small Town News: KPVM Pahrump, Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street, Pray Away, Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union

Sunday Aug. 1

John Ware Reclaimed (documentary premiere CBC Gem) “follows filmmaker Cheryl Foggo (Kicking Up A Fuss: The Charles Daniels Story), on her quest to re-examine the mythology surrounding John Ware, the Black cowboy who settled in Alberta before the turn of the 20th century. Foggo’s research uncovers who this iconic figure might have been, and what his legacy means in terms of anti-Black racism, both past and present.”

Monday, Aug. 2

Small Town News: KPVM Pahrump (doc series premieres 8pmCT/9ET HBO, Crave app) You can look at Facebook or Twitter to see the begging-for-your-clicks demeanour that characterizes so many newsrooms across Canada and the U.S. This six-part doc series gives a view of an outlier, a privately owned small-town TV station with the kind of community spirit and warmth that puts me in mind of a certain bi-weekly, Quebec’s 1019 Report, for which I am a regular contributor for love, not money. True story.

Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street (documentary premiere 8pmCT/9ET Crave, Crave app) “The new documentary from Marilyn Agrelo (Mad Hot Ballroom), STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET, takes audiences inside the minds and hearts of the artists, writers, and educators who created one of the most influential and enduring children’s programs in television history. Inspired by the New York Times bestselling book Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, the film focuses on the first two decades of Sesame Street — an experimental and groundbreaking period for the show. Its original creators, Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett, tell viewers in their own words about how “the gang” came together, how they stayed committed to their original mission — fighting educational gaps caused by racism and poverty — through eras of political and social change, and how they approached each obstacle with a wicked sense of humour and joy.”

Tuesday Aug. 3

Pray Away (premiere Netflix) “In the 1970s, five men struggling with being gay in their Evangelical church started a bible study to help each other leave the “homosexual lifestyle.” They quickly received over 25,000 letters from people asking for help and formalized as Exodus International, the largest and most controversial conversion therapy organization in the world. But leaders struggled with a secret: their own “same-sex attractions” never went away. After years as Christian superstars in the religious right, many of these men and women have come out as LGBTQ, disavowing the very movement they helped start. Focusing on the dramatic journeys of former conversion therapy leaders, current members, and a survivor, PRAY AWAY chronicles the “ex gay” movement’s rise to power, persistent influence, and the profound harm it causes.”

Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union (limited doc series premiere 8pmCT/9ET on HBO, Crave app) “Directed by Peter Kunhardt (True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight For Equality, 2019) the multi-part documentary, OBAMA: IN PURSUIT OF A MORE PERFECT UNION, is a comprehensive study of Barack Obama’s journey from Illinois State Senator to the 44th U.S. President, against the cultural and historical moments that defined his political rise. Archival interviews and speeches from Obama’s career frame insights from a who’s who of political experts including Jelani Cobb, David Remnick, Cornel West, Sherrilyn Ifill, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson, as they analyze how race and politics intertwined to lead to the election of the country’s first Black president.”

See you Thursday.

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