Your TV GPS, Globe critic Matthew Gilbert’s guide to what’s on television, appears at the beginning of each week at BostonGlobe.com. Today’s column covers June 22-28.
HOW TO AWARDS SHOW
This ought to be something. On Sunday at 8, the BET Awards will proceed, but it will be a virtual affair because of the pandemic.
That means that even while there will be a host, as usual, and a roster of performers, as usual, the event will in some ways be the opposite of a usual awards show. There will be little to none of the mingling and interacting that generally turn these back-patting fests into pop cultural happenings, the kind of critical mass that can turn an arena into something powerful for a few hours.
Instead, thanks to a production based on what BET is calling “innovative techniques and artist-generated content,” the night will be a more intimate affair — in the way some of the late-night talk shows have become more intimate because of their home settings and low-tech approaches. There won’t be big applause and standing ovations, I’m assuming; just the glee of the winners, at home, maybe even pantsless. (Here are the nominees.)
Also adding distinction to this year’s show, which is the 20th anniversary of the awards and the 40th anniversary of BET: All of the Black Lives Matter activities that have rocked the country since the killing of George Floyd. It’s a particularly powerful moment for a celebration of Black culture and creativity. This year, the awards will air on BET’s corporate cousin, CBS, too.
Comic Amanda Seales from “Insecure” will host, and the list of the night’s performers include Alicia Keys, DaBaby, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, Lil Wayne, Usher, and Wayne Brady. Also, there will be a preshow — but, I assume, without a red carpet — at 7 p.m. on BET.
I’m also curious about “The 47th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards,” which are also going to be virtual this year, on CBS, Friday at 8 p.m. Will the ceremony be a daze of our lives?
WHAT I’M WATCHING THIS WEEK
1. “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” — clunky title for a movie, yes? I think it’s intentionally so. Going directly to Netflix on Friday because of the pandemic, the mockumentary-styled comedy follows Icelandic singers Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir as they represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest. Directed by David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”) and written by Andrew Steele (“SNL”) and Will Ferrell, it stars Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Pierce Brosnan, Dan Stevens, and Demi Lovato. Oh, and Natasia Demetrious from “What We Do in the Shadows.” I’m there. Here’s the preview.
2. On Tuesday at 8 p.m. on WGBH 2, PBS’s “American Masters” is airing a two-hour documentary called “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” about the legendary Nobel Prize-winning author who died in 2019. Directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, it documents Morrison’s life, including her Ohio childhood and her 1970s-era book tours with Muhammad Ali. Featured interviewees include Hilton Als, Angela Davis, Fran Lebowitz, Walter Mosley, and Oprah Winfrey. Also: In advance of the airing, on Monday at noon, WGBH will host a free virtual event whose guests include Greenfield-Sanders, Howard University’s Dr. Dana Williams, and Harvard’s Dr. David Carrasco. Go to Events on WGBH.com to register.
3. The documentary “Athlete A” chronicles the 2016 USA Gymnastics crisis, when team doctor Larry Nassar was exposed as an abuser who’d been sexually assaulting his athletes for more than two decades. Available Wednesday on Netflix, the movie begins with the IndyStar stories revealing the cover-up that allowed abuse to thrive, the attorney fighting the institutions who failed these girls, and the brave whistleblowers. It’s directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk.
4. When she died in 2016, true-crime author Michelle McNamara was working on a book about the Golden State Killer, a name she helped coin. Almost two years later, with help from two other crime writers and McNamara’s widower, comic Patton Oswalt, the book, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” was finished and released. Shortly after that, the Sacramento police arrested a suspect in the GSK murders and rapes, which occurred from 1974-1986. Now, McNamara’s book has been adapted into a six-part documentary series whose directors include Liz Garbus (“What Happened, Miss Simone?”). Premiering Sunday at 10 p.m., the HBO series is guided by McNamara’s own words, through recordings of her and through excerpts from her book read by actor Amy Ryan. It will also include new interviews with detectives, survivors, and family members of the killer.
5. Sharon Liese’s documentary “Transhood” was filmed over five years in Kansas City, following four transgender kids (beginning at ages 4, 9, 12, and 15), as they negotiate issues such as body dysphoria, hormone treatments, violent threats, and changed family dynamics. It’s on HBO Wednesday at 9 p.m.
“Eric Andre: Legalize Everything” Andre performs stand-up in New Orleans. Netflix, Tuesday
“Search Party” Alia Shawkat’s comedy returns for season 3 on a new channel. HBO Max, Thursday
“Greenleaf” The fifth and final season of the megachurch drama begins. OWN, Tuesday, 9 p.m.
“Celebrity Show-Off” A new competition hosted by Mayim Bialik, where the likes of NeNe Leakes, Jason Mraz, Tori Spelling, and Bella Thorne produce content from their own homes. TBS, Tuesday, 10 p.m.
“The Twilight Zone” Time for season 2 of Jordan Peele’s OK-but-not-great reboot. CBS All Access, Tuesday
“Perry Mason” The legendary attorney, played by Matthew Rhys, gets a backstory in this series, to mixed effect. HBO
“Love, Victor” A sweet, somewhat simplistic coming-out series aimed at young adults. Hulu
“Laurel Canyon” A two-part docu-series about the vibrant L.A. music scene in the ’60s and ’70s. Epix
“Insecure” Season 4 is a powerful look at friendship and change. HBO
“Space Force” Steve Carell’s latest comedy series never gets off the ground. Netflix
“Quiz” About a real-life “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” scandal, Stephen Frears’s three-part miniseries doesn’t try to supply all the answers. AMC
“What We Do in the Shadows” The vampire comedy is still goofy fun in season 2. FX