What’s on TV This Week: An Obama Documentary and ‘Shiva Baby’


Between network, cable and streaming, the modern television landscape is a vast one. Here are some of the shows, specials and movies coming to TV this week, Aug. 2-8. All times are Eastern, unless otherwise noted, and details and times are subject to change.

SHIVA BABY (2021) 12:55 a.m. on HBO. A funerary gathering becomes a pressure cooker in “Shiva Baby,” a claustrophobic comedy from Emma Seligman that blends sexual tension, small talk and brined fish. Rachel Sennott plays Danielle, a college student who goes to the shiva of a family friend with her parents (played by Fred Melamed and Polly Draper). Danielle finds more than grief there: The ostensibly bereaved include both her sugar daddy (Danny Deferrari) and her ex-girlfriend (Molly Gordon). The result, Jason Bailey wrote in his review for The New York Times, is a comedy that’s “as tense as any thriller.” It’s rare, Bailey added, for a movie “to simultaneously balance such wildly divergent tones, to interweave big laughs with gut-wrenching discomfort, but Seligman pulls it off.”

POV: PIER KIDS (2019) 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). The filmmaker Elegance Bratton follows three young queer and transgender New Yorkers of color who frequent the Christopher Street Piers in Manhattan in this documentary. Shot over the course of five years, “Pier Kids” is informed by Bratton’s own life experience — as a teenager, he was thrown out of his mother’s home for his sexuality. He found solace in the community that has formed at the piers, and which he documents in this film. “Home is where one is most deeply understood,” Bratton said in a 2018 interview with The Times, “and the pier on Christopher Street is home for me.”

OBAMA: IN PURSUIT OF A MORE PERFECT UNION 9 p.m. on HBO. The director Peter Kunhardt, whose work includes the Martin Luther King Jr. documentary “King in the Wilderness,” delves into the life and legacy of President Barack Obama in this three-part docuseries. Interview subjects include Representative John Lewis, the speechwriter and podcast host Jon Favreau, the New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb and the former senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett. The first part of the series, which will air Tuesday night, covers Obama’s early life; the second two episodes will air at the same time on Wednesday and Thursday.

A MAN CALLED ADAM (1966) 6 p.m. on TCM. Sammy Davis Jr. and Cicely Tyson star in this musical drama, which tells the story of a fictional jazz player (Davis) who gets back on his feet with the help of a Civil Rights activist (Tyson) and her grandfather, who is played by Louis Armstrong. TCM is showing this work of fiction alongside several other films that feature Armstrong, including the documentary SATCHMO: THE LIFE OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG (1989), which airs at 8 p.m.; HIGH SOCIETY (1956), which airs at midnight and places Armstrong alongside Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra; and JAZZ ON A SUMMER’S DAY (1959), airing at 3 p.m., a classic concert film whose performers include Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson and Thelonious Monk.

GET OUT (2017) 5:20 p.m. and 11:20 p.m. on FXM. The writer-director Jordan Peele caused a stir about a week and a half ago when he shared a poster revealing a mysterious new movie called “Nope.” That film is slated to come out next year. In the meantime, consider revisiting “Get Out,” the movie that turned Peele into a horror-movie auteur. Daniel Kaluuya plays Chris, a Black photographer whose trip to meet the family of his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), turns into both an entertaining horror show and an allegory about racist violence. It’s an “exhilaratingly smart and scary freakout,” Manohla Dargis wrote in her review for The Times.

FALLING (2020) 9 p.m. on Showtime. Viggo Mortensen plumbed his own memories of caring for family members with dementia in “Falling,” his debut as a writer-director. Mortensen acts here, too: He plays John, a middle-aged man whose sharp-edged, bigoted father, Willis (Lance Henriksen), is in cognitive decline. Willis travels to live temporarily with John, Eric, John’s husband (Terry Chen), and Monica, the couple’s daughter (Gabby Velis). The experience is sometimes warm and sometimes scalding. “Some scenes scrape your senses like sandpaper, while others are so tender they’re almost destabilizing,” Jeannette Catsoulis wrote in her review for The Times. Henriksen, she continued, is “the incendiary heart of a movie that ultimately proves more involving — and rather more complicated — than we expect.”

JAWS (1975) 6:30 p.m. on AMC. When this original “Jaws” film was released in 1975, the Times critic Vincent Canby called it “a noisy, busy movie that has less on its mind than any child on a beach might have.” Naturally, it was a hit. “Jaws” helped define the blockbuster era, alongside “Star Wars” movies including THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980), which will air at 8:30 p.m. on TNT. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the figureheads of those two franchises, then collaborated on the Indiana Jones movie RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), which, coincidentally, will air at 8:50 p.m. on Paramount Network.

UFO 9 p.m. on Showtime. About a month after a Pentagon report brought renewed interest to the subject of unidentified aerial phenomena, Showtime will debut this four-part docuseries about our longstanding fascination with potential sightings of extraterrestrials, and the state of conversations about that subject. Fittingly, the series’ executive producers include the director J.J. Abrams (“Star Wars” and “Star Trek”).



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