Here is a guide to the Juneteenth programming available on television and streaming platforms.
HBO is lifting the paywall on ‘Watchmen’
Those who haven’t yet seen Damon Lindelof’s Peabody-winning take on “Watchmen” have the chance to do so Friday through Sunday, when it streams free on HBO’s website and on-demand. The network will also carry a marathon of the nine-episode series on HBO and HBO Latino beginning Friday at 1 p.m.
“Watchmen,” set in an alternative reality roughly 35 years after the events of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s graphic novel, explores how systemic racism persists in American society — and within the criminal justice system in particular, which might feel even more relevant today. Regina King stars as Angela Abar, a former Tulsa police officer who is a masked vigilante by night. The Washington Post’s David Betancourt referred to the show as “the boldest, blackest superhero story ever told on-screen.”
Warner Bros. continues to offer ‘Just Mercy’ free
Warner Bros. began the year with “Just Mercy,” which stars Michael B. Jordan as Bryan Stevenson, a real-life lawyer who, as in the events depicted, defended Walter “Johnny D.” McMillian (Jamie Foxx), a man imprisoned in Alabama for a murder he didn’t commit. The studio made the film free to rent on multiple platforms — including Amazon, YouTube and Google Play — through the end of June.
“Just Mercy” follows Stevenson, who went on to become a major figure in criminal justice reform, as he embeds himself in Monroeville, Ala., to better understand the system that entrapped Johnny D. It also offers a nuanced depiction of Johnny D.’s community, as well as the lives of other prisoners. The Post’s Ann Hornaday stated in her 3.5-star review that the film, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (“Short Term 12”), “keeps its emotions on a low simmer, its absorbing, tautly designed drama finally coming to a climax that is satisfying on one level, and absolutely shattering on another.”
“From its smooth visuals and warm, swinging sounds to its magnificent performances,” she wrote, “ ‘Just Mercy’ is masterfully constructed to keep us inside a story that otherwise would be too brutal to bear.”
FX is airing a ‘special collection’ of movies and television episodes
FX Networks will fill the Friday schedules of three networks — FX, FXX and FXM — with identical programming. It will begin with Theodore Melfi’s “Hidden Figures” at 7 a.m., with Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” at 10, then transition at 1 p.m. into a seven-hour block of select episodes from “Blackish.” The last of those 14 episodes, “Juneteenth,” is a musical special that opened the fourth season and, according to The Post’s Bethonie Butler, “sought to clear up misconceptions about slavery and American history.”
Beginning at 8 p.m., FX will air eight episodes of the Donald Glover-created series “Atlanta,” including its own “Juneteenth.” Jordan Peele’s film “Get Out” will then play twice, beginning at 12:47 a.m.
AMC networks are showing a ‘Black History Month Spectacular’
The variety series “Sherman’s Showcase,” which was just renewed for a second season, will first return as the one-hour “Black History Month Spectacular.” The special, which will air Friday on AMC at 10 p.m. and on IFC at 11, comes from series creators Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle and will, per a release, honor “historic African-American icons both past and present, alongside superheroes, period dramas, vampires, and a very special re-imagining of the cult film The Last Dragon.”
In a review of the special, the New York Times described the irreverent series as “clever, sometimes stinging and encyclopedically well-informed … but at the end of the day it wants you to smile, however ruefully.”
Netflix and Hulu are highlighting black storytelling
While it is not specific to Juneteenth, Netflix users might notice a new “Black Lives Matter” genre appearing on the website. The company created this section as its peers began to issue statements on ongoing protests. The official account tweeted, “When we say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ we also mean ‘Black storytelling matters.’ With an understanding that our commitment to true, systemic change will take time — we’re starting by highlighting powerful and complex narratives about the Black experience.”
Hulu has similarly added a “Black Stories” genre to the platform.