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What to Watch on TV and Streaming This Week

Celebrate July Fourth with our critics’ handpicked patriotic shows and movies

Happy Independence Day weekend, America! While we all reconfigure our celebrations to stay on the safe side of COVID-19, your small screen has stepped up with a star-spangled cluster of great TV specials and more. Check out what’s on offer, and pass the cherry pie.

Critic’s Pick of the Week

A Capitol Fourth

(PBS, July 4, 8 p.m. ET)

Want to feel good about America? Join hosts John Stamos and Vanessa Williams and performers Patti LaBelle, John Fogerty, Renée Fleming, Yolanda Adams, the Temptations, Chrissy Metz (This Is Us), Kelli O’Hara and Mandy Gonzalez of Hamilton (which, by the way, debuts July 3 on the Disney+ channel) and way more stars for the 40th annual PBS patriotic bash in D.C. This year, it’s pretaped for COVID-19 safety precautions, with tributes to pandemic frontline workers, African American heroes, and America’s wounded warriors and their families. Plus fireworks!

Watch it here: PBS

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3 More Ways to Get Patriotic This Weekend 

The front of the National Archives building

Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Love our nation’s revolutionary history? Register in advance and tune into the National Archives first-ever virtual July Fourth celebration on July 4. Soledad O’Brien will serve as host and narrator for the free event, sponsored by AARP and the John Hancock company. Among other online programs, the National Archives will present a reading of the Declaration of Independence, the famous founding document that resides at its building along with the original U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

How to join: Read all about it and join in the patriotic fun

Will Smith as Captain Steven Hiller in Independence Day and Chris Evans as Captain America

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Meanwhile, in honor of our nation’s birthday, our critics have rounded up 18 incredibly star-spangled patriotic movies to watch this weekend (and beyond!). From Steven Spielberg’s inspiring Lincoln biopic and the quiet heroism of Hidden Figures to Will Smith’s blockbuster turn defending the White House from aliens in Independence Day and Chris Evans as Captain America, we’ve got the movies that will put your hand over your heart. All you need are some sparklers and strawberry shortcake!

Get the list: Star-Spangled Patriotic Movies to Watch on July Fourth Weekend

RELATED: How much do you know about the Fourth of July? Take our quiz to test your Independence Day IQ!

What to Watch Right Now on Amazon

Suits, Season 9

Don’t miss the slam-bang finale of one of TV’s best legal (and plot-knottiest) dramas.

Watch it here: Amazon Prime Video

Love Amazon? Amazon just rolled out a whole new bunch of exciting movies and series this weekend, but it might feel overwhelming trying to catch the best things to watch. Relax! Our critics have handpicked the 15 no-miss films and series arriving in July, and the list is right here: 15 Great Things Coming to Amazon Prime Video in July

The One Thing Not to Miss on Netflix This Week

#Anne Frank: Parallel Stories

In a replica of Anne Frank’s secret hideaway in her family’s Amsterdam home, Helen Mirren, 74, reads from the young author’s famed diary in this moving documentary. Historians and Holocaust survivors fill in the Shoah story.

Watch it here: Netflix

Addicted to Netflix? If it’s the first week of the month, that means a whole new and exciting batch of shows and films to stream on Netflix! Don’t feel overwhelmed, though: We’ve got your critic-approved short list of what you can’t afford to miss. Get the brand-new list right here: The 16 Best Things Coming to Netflix in July

Best New Show for Food Lovers

Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi


The Top Chef star and best-selling author steps into the world of culinary culture and travel so defined by the tragically departed Anthony Bourdain with her own new travel show about diverse cuisines in the United States: Chinese, Mexican, African American and more.

Watch it here: Hulu

RELATED: Padma Lakshmi discusses filling Anthony Bourdain’s shoes and her personal recipe for happiness. Read AARP’s interview, here.

If You Love Carol Burnett (and Who Doesn’t?), You Need to Know This

Carol Burnett speaking to the audience on The Carol Burnett Show

CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Was The Carol Burnett Show a highlight of your weekly TV life? Remember her Q&A’s with the audience, her hilarious sketch comedy and the cavalcade of stars who appeared with her over 11 laughter- and song-filled years? Then you’ll be thrilled that Shout! Factory TV just released all 11 seasons on streaming platforms (find out more here). We caught up with Burnett recently to chat about her favorite guests over the years, how she’s handled quarantine and her plans for the future.

Read it all here: Carol Burnett, 87, on Her Classic Show and the People She Loves

Stay Current on Coronavirus

An illustration that reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses

Courtesy of Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS; Center for Disease Control

Nova: Decoding COVID-19

(PBS, check local listings)

Meet one of the first COVID victims and the scientists racing for a cure.

Watch it here: PBS

Coronavirus, Explained


In a new documentary series, Bill Gates and other sensible experts clarify the coronavirus pandemic, efforts to beat it and ways to manage its mental health impact.

Watch it here: Netflix

The Virus: What Went Wrong?

(PBS and YouTube)

Frontline investigates how COVID-19 spread, and how leaders around the world struggled to cope with it.

Watch it here: PBS, YouTube

Jerome Flynn as Detective Inspector Bennet Drake, Matthew Macfadyen as Inspector Edmund Reid and Adam Rothenberg as Captain Homer Jackson in Ripper Street

Bernard Walsh/BBC AMERICA

Catch Up on Crime

Need to escape into some classic TV mysteries? Pick a favorite from our 9 Mysteries to Binge Watch Now and solve crimes on VeraRipper Street, and Agatha Christie’s Poirot, among others.

AARP Talks With …

Get behind the scenes of the biggest shows on TV right now with interviews with Killing Eve’s Sandra Oh, Mrs. America’s Margo Martindale, Making the Cut’s Tim Gunn, and Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi.

Also Catch Up With ...

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark


Michelle McNamara’s best-selling book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, was a riveting read. Now, director Liz Garbus (What Happened, Miss Simone?) 50, has adapted the book into the year’s most fascinating murder documentary series. The film doesn’t just focus on Joseph DeAngelo, the empty soul who evidently raped more than 50 women (murdering at least 10) and was nabbed while the doc was in production, but it also plumbs the soul of crime writer McNamara, who died of a heart defect before DeAngelo was caught. If you liked Serial or Making a Murderer or the Robert Durst doc The Jinx, this six-episode series is for you.

Watch it here: HBO

RELATED: 3 Seriously Scary Must-Reads for True-Crime Junkies

The Twilight Zone, Season 2

(CBS All Access)

The second season of this reboot of Rod Serling’s creepy classic, by Oscar winner Jordan Peele (Get Out), is fetching better reviews than the wobbly first season. The intriguing debut episode, “Meet in the Middle” is a Double Indemnity-like thriller about a guy who finds the love of his life, an unhappily married woman who appears as a telepathic voice in his head. But since you can binge all 10 episodes or watch them in any order, many critics recommend starting with the third episode, ”The Who of You,” wherein a desperate actor with a more successful wife robs a bank — but his mind keeps swapping bodies with the cashier, then a cop. And then you’ll enter … the Twilight Zone.

Watch it here: CBS All Access

The Sommerdahl Murders

(Acorn TV)

Get your crime fix in the gorgeous Danish beach town Helsingor, where a headstrong detective finds a young woman’s cadaver in the sand and hunts the killer, assisted by his best-friend gumshoe and his forensic expert — who happens to be his neglected wife. And his best friend’s in a love triangle with her. The love subplot of this four-episode series is meh, but the sleuthing is good Scandinavian noir.

Watch it here: Acorn TV

RELATED: Love crime shows? Have you checked out the new Perry Mason reboot yet? Read our interview with stars John Lithgow and Matthew Rhys here: Perry Mason Comes Back to TV With a Raymond Chandler Twist

Netflix’s Black Lives Matter Collection

Netflix unveils a useful, intelligently curated menu of 48 or so top titles including When They See Us, Moonlight, Malcolm X and the current must-see, Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods (which could win star Delroy Lindo the Oscar he’s deserved for some time, and maybe the Emmy, too).

Watch it here: Netflix

Perry Mason

(HBO, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)

The great John Lithgow plays the legal mentor to Matthew Rhys’ Perry Mason in a reboot of the wildly popular long-ago TV series starring Raymond Burr, now set in 1932 Los Angeles. Don’t expect a weekly witness breakdown on the stand, however. This version is more Raymond Chandler than Burr, and the atmospherics are a whole new world.

Watch it here: HBO

Yellowstone, Season 3

(Paramount Network, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)

Kevin Costner rides increasingly high in the saddle in this steadily improving melodrama about Montana’s top rancher who’s beset by ruthless developers, neighbors in a national park and a Native American reservation, his own quarrelsome clan, and a newcomer: a smiling, ominously ambitious hedge fund manager (Lost’s Josh Holloway).

Watch it here: Paramount Network

Great Performances: Ann

( and the PBS Video app)

Was there ever a more dramatically promising character than the late, great and always outspoken Texas governor Ann Richards? Or a more talented actor to play her than Emmy winner Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men, The Practice)? On a career roll at 77, Taylor scored a Tony nomination for her work in the play, filmed for PBS on stage in Austin (the state capital where Richards ruled the roost from 1991 to 1995).

Watch it here: PBS

RELATED: AARP talks with Holland Taylor about Ann Richards, women in politics and how she’s handled life during quarantine. Read the whole story, here.

Billions, Season 5

(Showtime, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET)

How could the hit about the battle between a kinky U.S. attorney (Paul Giamatti, 52) and his hedge fund manager enemy (Damian Lewis, 49) get better? Add The Good Wife’s Julianna Margulies, 53, as Yale professor Cat Brant, author of The O Gap, a best seller about orgasms, as Giamatti’s pal, as well as House of Cards’ Corey Stoll as Lewis’ new enemy.

Watch it here: Showtime


(Amazon, Season 6. Seasons 1-5 also available)   

The cantankerous L.A. homicide detective Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver, 58) is back for a sixth season. Stephen King tweeted this week, “There’s nothing better than BOSCH…The story is engrossing, the cast—led my Titus Welliver—is superb, and nobody is phoning it in. One of the best shows now on TV.”

Watch it here: Amazon

BBC Television Shakespeare Collection


For the first time, you can binge-watch all 37 of the BBC’s legendary Shakespeare adaptations. Helen Mirren in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and As You Like It, John Cleese in The Taming of the Shrew, Patrick Stewart in Hamlet, Roger Daltrey in The Comedy of Errors, Judy Davis in The Merry Wives of Windsor? We’re there. Free with a trial subscription (There’s a 7-day free trial, followed by $6.99/month or $69.99/year).

Watch it here: BritBox

How to Get Away With Murder, Season 6

The triumphant final season of TV’s intense legal thriller shows why star Viola Davis, as law prof Annalise Keating, became the first black woman to win the lead actress Emmy. Can Annalise survive her high-drama lifestyle? Tune in and see.

Watch it here: Netflix

Grey’s Anatomy, Season 16


Now you can binge-watch the latest season of the longest-running prime-time medical drama (more seasons than ER, Scrubs, or M*A*S*H), and all 15 previous seasons, too. And if you like the lively style of Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes, 50, who made Ellen Pompeo and Sandra Oh famous, binge her other Netflix shows, How to Get Away With Murder, Seasons 1 to 5, and Scandal, Seasons 1 to 7.

Watch it here: Netflix

Video Globetrotter

(Lifetime TV)

Beat the quarantine blues with a vicarious video vacation led by travel maven Scott Eddy, who explores Trinidad, Antigua and Grenada in the first episode. Discover sugar-sand beaches, pungent street food, ziplining, Carnival, ultra-luxury resorts and Caribbean characters having more fun than you. Best enjoyed with a rum punch.

Watch it here: Video Globetrotter

Mrs. America


Cate Blanchett, 50, is sensational as homemaker advocate and Phyllis Schlafly, who torpedoed the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, despite the frantic efforts of feminists Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne), Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman, 60), Rep. Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale, 68) and Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first black female presidential candidate (Uzo Aduba).

Watch it here: Hulu

RELATED: Cate Blanchett and Tracey Ullman Hail Mrs. America and Margo Martindale on Success at 68 and Life at Home

Making the Cut


Tim Gunn, 66, and Heidi Klum (who calls him her “TV husband”), 46, didn’t get to do much together on Project Runway. But they sure do on their new show, on which a dozen designers vie for $1 million and their own Amazon fashion line.

Watch it here: Amazon

RELATED: Tim Gunn's Fashion Advice for Folks Over 50

FBI: Most Wanted

(CBS, Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET)

Producer Dick Wolf's Law & Order spin-off Law & Order: SVU spawned the spin-off FBI — and now that's got a new spin-off, about a grownup investigator (FBI's Julian McMahon, 51) whose Fugitive Task Force hunts the worst bad guys on the FBI's top 10 criminals list. It's got a better cast than some Dick Wolf shows, whose spin-offs tend to become hits.

Watch it here: CBS

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