It's the week of Labor Day, so the kids are back in school, except they're still at home. The summer is finally over, except it never really began. You can no longer wear white pants after Labor Day, but it doesn't really matter if you wear any pants at all as long as your Zoom web cam is pointed above your waist. All rules are thrown out the window in the pandemic! Except for one: TV will always be there for you.
Our picks for the best things to watch this week cover several important things — poverty, a woman's choice, being Black in America — and some much less important topics, like a boy band made up of ghosts and overpaid millionaires shoving each other around the grass while chasing a ball. That makes it the perfect week to find that balance in life of staying educated on social issues while also taking a little “me” time to turn off the ol' noggin and reset your mental health.
If this isn't enough and you're looking for even more hand-picked recommendations, sign up for our free, daily, spam-free Watch This Now newsletter that delivers the best TV show picks straight to your inbox, or check out the best shows and movies this month on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
Monday at 9/8c on PBS
Perspective is a major key to the equality that all humans deserve. You think Paris Hilton has any inkling what it's like to be poor? Without seeing what it's like to live in another's shoes, empathy and understanding with the plight of those less fortunate are harder to grow. That's why watching this episode of Frontline is so important for so many. Growing Up Poor in America looks at poverty through the eyes of children whose education and finances have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Yeah, it's going to be a hard watch, but it's also a necessary watch.
Wednesday on Hulu
Inspired by the life and work of artist (and series co-creator) Keith Knight, who is known for his cartoons about political, social, and racial issues, Woke stars New Girl‘s Lamorne Morris as Keef, an apolitical Black cartoonist who's about to hit it big when he has his first-ever encounter with racist police officers. It proves to be a wake up call for Keef, who finds himself confronted about racial inequality by animated inanimate objects shortly afterward. Like, his mailbox is yelling at him. With a new outlook on life and the world around him, Keef attempts to navigate the new voices and ideas that challenge him without destroying everything that has led him to where he is. This series couldn't be coming at a better time. -Kaitlin Thomas [TV Guide review]
Thursday on Netflix
Netflix's new musical series Julie and the Phantoms admittedly feels a bit dated at first, because it has shades of a Disney Channel Original Movie and is executive-produced by Kenny Ortega, who helmed the popular High School Musical films. But the series, which is based on the Brazilian show of the same name and features all original music written for the show, grows on you with each passing episode. Julie and the Phantoms follows Julie (Madison Reyes), a teen who lost her passion for music after her mom died but who suddenly finds herself inspired to sing and write music again after meeting three ghostly musicians (Charlie Gillespie, Owen Patrick Joyner, Jeremy Shada) in her mom's old music studio. The trio were part of a band on the verge of making it big before they died in 1995; now they can only appear to the rest of the world while playing music with Julie. So while they help her find her voice once more, she helps them find purpose in the afterlife. As cheesy as it sounds, you should give this one a shot. –Kaitlin Thomas
Thursday on Peacock
Peacock is coming in hot this week with Black Boys, a new documentary film written and directed by Sonia Lowman that celebrates the humanity of Black men and boys in America at a time in our nation's history in which we all must contend with a legacy of racism and hate. The film, which is executive-produced by Super Bowl champion Malcolm Jenkins, utilizes discussions about education, sports, and criminal justice to explore our current cultural landscape while allowing viewers to reimagine a world in which young Black men experience unlimited possibilities instead of systemic racism. The film features interviews with athletes Carmelo Anthony, Greg Scruggs, and Cris Carter, as well as sports journalist Jemele Hill and former Secretary of Education Dr. John King Jr. to reveal the tenderness and resilience of Black men and boys. If you have Peacock, or are thinking of subscribing to Peacock, this one is bound to start a conversation, and we should all be part of it. –Kaitlin Thomas
Thursday at 8:20 p.m. ET/5:20 p.m. PT on NBC
Are you ready for some sports-related coronavirus outbreaks? And, safety permitting, football? The NFL season kicks off this week with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans, because there's no way the NFL was going to delay its season despite having the advantage of witnessing what a sh–show baseball has become while trying to maintain a sports season during a full-blown viral outbreak. Games will not be played in any bubbles, and certain teams will be allowed to have fans while others will not (the Miami Dolphins will allow 13,000 fans to attend their home opener). But all you'll care about is whether your fantasy football team does well. Forget looking at combine stats; draft guys with strong immune systems.
Thursday on HBO Max
A high school senior in Missouri discovers she's pregnant, and also discovers that in Missouri, it's illegal to get an abortion without a parent's consent. You know what that means. Road trip! The buddy comedy sees her team up with her former best friend on a trek to Albuquerque to have the procedure done, and while it will touch on ideas of a woman's choice, the heartwarming, zany, and funny movie really looks like it's about the central friendship and the adventures the two go through.
Saturday at 8/7c on BBC America
Animals. Who are babies. Take a break from the doom and gloom of cable news and catch some cute, fluffy stuff. Episode 1 focuses on animal babies of the Savannah.
Stop searching, start watching! TV Guide's Watch This Now! page has even more TV recommendations.