Arts & Entertainment
Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
$12 for 3 Films on1 Ticket
Online Streaming Program
July 31 – August 9, 2020
The Wild: Mark Titus, Director [62 minutes] Conversation with Mark Titus available
By suddenly dismantling safeguards the EPA had enacted to protect the salmon, water and people of Bristol Bay – the current political regime in the United States has unilaterally revived a mining corporation’s relentless pursuit to build North America’s largest open-pit copper mine – directly in the headwaters of the most prodigious wild sockeye salmon run in the world.
This urgent threat spurs filmmaker, Mark Titus back to the Alaskan wilderness – where the people of Bristol Bay and the world’s largest wild salmon runs face devastation if a massive copper mine is constructed. The Wild is a race against time.
Eye of the Pangolin: Bruce Young, Director [46 minutes + Filmmaker Conversation]
The search for an animal on the edge.
Due to an increasingly insatiable market in Asia, their pangolins have disappeared almost entirely. They are poached and killed for the supposed medicinal value of their scales and as a dining delicacy. Due to an increasingly insatiable market in Asia, their pangolins have disappeared almost entirely. They are poached and killed for the supposed medicinal value of their scales and as a dining delicacy.
Two award-winning South African filmmakers are on a mission to capture the African pangolin on film in the hope that if people come to know it, they will care enough to help end this horrific trade.
L’eau Est La Vie: From Standing Rock To The Swamp: Sam Vinal, Director [24 minutes]
On the banks of Louisiana, fierce Indigenous women are ready to fight—to stop the corporate blacksnake and preserve their way of life. They are risking everything to protect Mother Earth from the predatory fossil fuel companies that seek to poison it. Cherri Foytlin leads us on a no-nonsense journey of Indigenous resistance to the Bayou Bridge Pipeline (BBP) in the swamps of Louisiana.
This struggle is not over a singular pipeline. Rather, the pipeline is one piece of an ongoing legacy of colonization and slow genocide.
This collection of films from SDFF 2020 is part of our online series Docs Make House Calls.
Stay informed about more movies that matter athttps://sebastopolfilmfestival.org/
WarnerMedia has launched an investigation into the working environment on The Ellen DeGeneres Show following claims that the set is “dominated by fear”.
According to Variety, staffers received a memo last week from Warner Bros executives and the production company Telepictures informing them that they have engaged WBTV-owner WarnerMedia’s employee relations group and a third party firm.
This third party will interview current and former staffers about their experiences on set, which some say is rife with racism, fear and intimidation.
Ellen DeGeneres has long been plagued by rumours of “notoriously mean” behaviour behind cameras, seemingly at odds with her famously sunny disposition. The allegations have intensified as several reports of a toxic workplace environment surfaced over the past four months.
In April, as DeGeneres moved her daytime talk show to her Beverly Hills mansion, staffers complained they had been dismissed and ignored for weeks on end amid the pandemic.
With many of DeGeneres’ team facing job insecurity and pay cuts, it emerged that only four core crew members were hired for the remote version of the broadcast, and that an outside, non-union tech company had instead been hired to help the star film from home.
Later in mid-July, BuzzFeed published a report that painted a damning picture of alleged racism and intimidation on the show.
Ellen DeGeneres urged to ‘take responsibility’.
DeGeneres, 62, is said to have fired people for attending family funerals or taking medical leave, while producers joked that they’d mix up two Black employees because they had the same hairstyle.
One Black woman alleged that one of the show’s main writers said they only know the names of white employees, and people just “awkwardly laughed it off” rather than confronting it.
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Others claimed that direct managers instructed lower-ranking employees not to speak to Ellen if they saw her around the office.The Cucumber That Will Poison Your KidsPromoted by CA Dept of Public Health
One staffer was reportedly ordered to take down a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for medical costs not covered by the show’s insurance.
Overall, the former staff blamed senior managers and producers for the toxicity, but stressed that as it’s DeGeneres’ name on the brand “she really needs to take more responsibility”.
“I think the executive producers surround her and tell her, ‘Things are going great, everybody’s happy,’” one staff member suggested. “And she just believes that, but it’s her responsibility to go beyond that.”
“We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience. It’s not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us,” the group said.
“For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realise, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better.”
Revry, the first global queer streaming network, today announced a new partnership with Comcast Xfinity’s Beltway Region to introduce The Beltway Pride Screening Series – a collection of six compelling films that explore life through the lens of the LGBTQ community.
Thought-provoking panel discussions will follow each screening and highlight the unique needs and challenges that LGBTQ members face. Panelists will include filmmakers, cast members and members of local LGBTQ organizations discussing such topics as race, gender, sexual identity, politics and culture.
Each of the six movies in the The Beltway Pride Screening Series can be watched for free online via the Revry.tv network. A new film will be showcased each month through October. The first film VINTAGE – Families of Value is available now through July 30. The impressionistic documentary film, which is in its 25th year, intimately explores three African-American families through the eyes of lesbian and gay male siblings – two or more in the same family. On Thursday, July 30 from 8-8:45 p.m. EDT/5-5:45 p.m. PDT, filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris and other cast members will join Pride Center of Maryland’s LaKesha M. Davis to discuss this groundbreaking documentary, which was partially filmed in Baltimore. “We know that Pride isn’t just a month-long celebration, but a year-long commitment to supporting the LGBTQ community,” said Tabitha Williams, Senior Manager of Events & Multicultural Marketing for Comcast’s Beltway Region. “In a season where Pride and LGBTQ festivals are either canceled or postponed, Comcast’s Xfinity together with Revry hope to drive deeper, authentic engagement with LGBTQ members in our region.” Following the online screenings, Xfinity X1 and Flex customers who subscribe to Revry can access the films directly on the TV. Revry’s programming is accessible to Xfinity customers over the Internet on X1 and Flex and can be found by saying “Revry” into the Xfinity Voice Remote or within Xfinity on Demand’s LGBTQ Film & TV collection—the largest first-of-its-kind collection of LGBTQ content available at home and on-the-go. “As the first LGBTQ+ virtual cable TV network, Revry offers free live TV channels and on-demand viewing of its global library featuring LGBTQ+ movies, shows, music, podcasts, news and exclusive originals all in one place – reaching up to 250+ million people in over 130 countries,” said Alia J. Daniels, COO / Co-Founder of Revry. “In a time where division is easily amplified, we recognize Comcast’s commitment to honor diversity, and are thrilled to partner with the company in sharing this quality programming, especially with the diverse Beltway Region.”
About This Month’s FilmVINTAGE: Families of Value is an essay style film that gives a thoughtful and sometimes painful examination of three African-American families through the eyes of gay and lesbian siblings, including the film director Thomas Allen Harris and his brother, Lyle Ashton Harris. The director confronts the issue by asking his mother to talk about her two sons being gay. This documentary weaves together stories from all three families with impressionistic scenes that express what some are unwilling to say.
Awarded Best Documentary by the 1996 Atlanta International Film Festival and a Golden Gate by the 1996 San Francisco International Film Festival, this lyrical and impressionistic film blends intimate and sometimes painful conversations between family members, with dramatic recreations, improvisations, performance, audio visual collage and archival photos and films to sketch a provocative tableau of three modern families negotiating sexuality and identity.
For more information on The Beltway Pride Screening Series and its upcoming screenings, click here.
About RevryWatch Queer TV 24/7 with the first LGBTQ+ virtual cable TV network. Revry offers free live TV channels and on-demand viewing of its global library featuring LGBTQ+ movies, shows, music, podcasts, news and exclusive originals all in one place. Revry is currently available globally in over 250 million households and devices and on seven OTT, mobile and desktop platforms. Revry also can be viewed on nine live and on-demand channels and connected TVs including: The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, Comcast Xfinity X1, Dell, XUMO TV, Zapping TV, STIRR, TiVo+ and as the first LGBTQ+ virtual reality channel on Littlstar (available on PlayStation devices). Revry – an inaugural member of the Goldman Sachs Black and LatinX Cohort – is headquartered in Los Angeles and led by a diverse founding team who bring decades of experience in the fields of tech, digital media and LGBTQ+ advocacy. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @revrytv or online at revry.tv.
The idea of a short story collection entirely consumed by the topic of women loving women shouldn’t feel groundbreaking, but when I heard about Natalia Borges Polesso’s Amora, (translated by Julia Sanches) I gasped. I’m going to admit that I regularly type the names of book titles, movies, authors, celebrities, etc. into Internet search bars and add the word “gay” to the end like it’s some kind of last name. I don’t think I’m alone in this practice. It’s a form of bluntness real life rarely allows. It’s a desire to tease more queerness out of culture, to see my sexuality represented even if it isn’t obvious. Willa Cather wrote roving novels about women and men falling in love, but Wikipedia allowed me to see something more than heterosexual romance. Maybe Charles Swann isn’t gay, but Google made him so.
Still it can be disheartening to have to go outside the page to find the story you most want to hear. And reading Amora made me aware of just how much gets missed in abstraction. Where have the stories of elderly queer women been? Where are the stories of lesbian blood play, of girl crushes, and one night stands, of dyke pastors, and vapid queer gossip? That’s why Borges Polesso made me gasp. It’s all there in Amora. All of it.
Each story is a new shape. In each of the thirty-three stories (yes truly. Every single one of them!) a woman confronts her feelings for another woman. Sometimes, like in “Dreaming,” the Sapphic desire is the crux on which everything is built. Other times, like in “Bite Your Tongue,” it’s just a fact vaguely audible to the larger plot. But it’s always there. Even if it’s lurking in the background. And sometimes that’s what feels the most ground breaking. A story can be queer, even if the point of it isn’t queerness.
A few of the scenarios I particularly appreciated from Amora were in stories like “Marilia Wakes Up” in which an elderly lesbian couple goes about their Sunday morning ritual, simultaneously tragic in their continued closetedness and touching in their enduring compassion for one another. “Grandma, Are You a Lesbian” has to be one of the best short story titles I’ve ever come across. And, “Aunties” breathes reality into that fantasy of two queer nuns leading a life together. But, don’t get me wrong. Of course Borges Polesso can’t cover every type of lesbian story. There’s still room for so many more stories to be told, so many more perspectives. In a way, the ground she covers in just 223 pages is simply opening the door for more.
Perhaps because so many different types of lesbians are touched upon in this collection, there’s a certain brevity that laces its way through this book. Many stories seemed to end just as they’d begun. In “My Cousin’s In Town” a woman who isn’t out at work invites her colleagues over for dinner when her girlfriend is out of town. As she enters her apartment with the group though, she realizes her girlfriend, Bruna, has returned from her conference earlier than expected and proceeds to introduce her workmates to her “cousin” who is in town for an exam. The story ends shortly after this introduction. The dinner with colleagues lasts only half a paragraph, and everything comes to an end with Bruna chiding her lover, saying “the truth would have been painless” and then questioning this sentiment. As a reader this was jarring because I expected the story to explore this desire to hide, to unpack what it does to the relationship, but all that unpacking happens in no more than three final sentences.
One happy result of all these jolted endings is that the stories feel very much alive. We sense that the characters still have work to do, like they go on living even if it isn’t on the page. For this reason, I have some respect for Borges Polesso refusing to tie each story into a bow. She puts some of the labor onto her readers. There’s so much unpacking left to be done for queer narratives. The answers aren’t obvious, nor should they be.
By Natalia Borges Polesso (Translated by Julia Sanches)
Paperback, 9781542004336, 232 pp.
FRAMELINE44 Festival Happens September 17–27, 2020 11-Day Virtual Event with 35+ Films, Q&A’S, and More
Today, Frameline—the world’s longest-running and largest showcase of queer cinema—announced that the Frameline44 Festival, previously postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held virtually September 17–27, 2020. Following Frameline’s successful Pride Showcase, the Frameline44 Festival will be more than double the size of the June event, featuring 35+ films spanning narratives, documentaries, and shorts. Additional programming highlights of the 11-day event include panels and Q&A’s with filmmakers and celebrity guests, the Frameline Award Night (Saturday, September 26), a silent auction, and more.
“The success of our virtual Pride Showcase showed that we could translate the Frameline Festival experience to a digital format,” said James Woolley, Frameline Executive Director. “We’re thrilled to finally announce the new dates for the full Frameline44 Festival and have the opportunity to celebrate the power of queer cinema with not one, but two virtual events this year.”
“We can’t wait to announce the exciting roster of films that will make up the long-awaited Frameline44 Festival,” said Paul Struthers, Director of Exhibition and Programming. “The lineup will include thirty features and six shorts programs, showcasing the best new queer films from around the world.”
Viewers from across California will be able to attend the virtual event. The full lineup of films will be announced on Tuesday, August 25, and tickets will also be available that day at www.frameline.org.
Frameline44 Festival SponsorsFrameline44 is made possible with generous support from returning Premier Partners GILEAD SCIENCES, INC., SHOWTIME®, BANK OF AMERICA, and MONIKER. Additional funding is provided by THE ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES, WELLS FARGO FOUNDATION, AT&T, WARNERMEDIA, ARNOLD & PORTER, BANK OF THE WEST, BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES, and SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY.
Frameline’s mission is to change the world through the power of queer cinema. As a media arts nonprofit, Frameline’s integrated programs connect filmmakers and audiences in San Francisco and around the globe. Frameline provides critical funding for emerging LGBTQ+ filmmakers, reaches hundreds of thousands with a collection of over 250 films distributed worldwide, inspires thousands of students in schools across the nation with free films and curricula through Youth in Motion, and creates an international stage for the world’s best LGBTQ+ film through the San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival and additional year-round screenings and cinematic events. For more information on Frameline, visit www.frameline.org.
|The World Premiere of the Cotati Accordion Virtual Festival will be taking place this coming August 22nd and 23rd from 11:00am to 3:00pm online for all to view. There will be no fee, donations will be accepted, and the platforms will be forthcoming.|
Internationally acclaimed virtuosos from 9 different countries, such as Cory Pesaturo, Alex Meixner, Pietro Adragna and Gary Blair, will be performing live, along with streaming chats, interviews, The Lady-of-Spain-a-Ring, The Grand Finale, raffles and more.
The World Premiere of the Cotati Accordion Virtual Festival will give the viewers a chance to see the accordion played at artistic levels never imagined by the uninitiated. Whether you are an accordion aficionado or just curious, the performances will be unforgettable.
Broken People follows a lonesome, queer character named Sam in his search for a total transformation of himself. Sam Lansky’s debut novel, a work of autofiction, opens at a dinner party in Los Angeles. Sam overhears guests discussing a shaman who can fix everything that’s wrong with a person in three days. The promise seduces Sam, who, amidst superficial strangers and empty conversation, alights on a disturbing revelation. “It would be better to be dead, he thought… He did not want to die, in a practical sense—the corporeal permanence of death terrified him—but rather, to already be dead, to skip the death process and coast into a static condition of un-being, was something he fantasized about often. Certainly that had to be more bearable than sustained consciousness.” Broken People, full of gorgeous meditations of quiet desperation like this, is a fever-dream account of whether any of us can change, whether our disappointments and discontents might forever disappear.
At 28, Sam experiences palpable loneliness and self-doubt, combined with the unease that modern life reflected “his own inadequacy…back to him.” As an entertainment editor for an unnamed magazine (ostensily Time), Sam feels the life he’s created for himself, or “had stumbled into…through sheer dumb luck,” was an illusion. He’s written a memoir about his addiction as an adolescent growing up in New York, which is ostensibly The Gilded Razor, the acclaimed coming-of-age story Lansky published in 2016. Sam has since recovered, and yet a hole lies at the center of his story. He looks in the mirror at a body he wants to be invisible, but try as he might, he can’t see himself as anything but diminished and undeserving of love.
Would this heap of anxieties, then, warrant seeking out a radical transformation of oneself? Lansky has no choice but to travel deeper into Sam’s mind, sustaining tension by offering prolonged scenes of his thoughts, thoughts Sam believes could be useful for a new memoir. Sam tells his agent it’s “about finding myself in my twenties.” Here, Broken People begins to assume an ouroboric complexity. The novel, which enacts a kind of navel-gazing, becomes a stunning work of self-witnessing. Says Sam, “I have this loud internal narrator who tells me that I’m a piece of shit, that I don’t deserve anything I have, that any day now the whole thing will come crashing down… I don’t know how to be a person.” Perhaps, then, Sam, or Lansky—it’s not clear—can be a character in his own story. The tantalizing risk that some distance between memoir and fiction, between confession and invention, will collapse is what keeps readers reading.
Many novels have taken place in fewer than three days—but surely fixing everything wrong with Sam in such a short time is impossible. Still, he and Buck, a fifty-something architect from the dinner party, enlist the help of a shaman named Jacob to perform “open-soul surgery” on them. Using large, Latinate words like “transdimensional intercession,” and channeling the new-age language of healing, Jacob explains how each night he’ll hold what he calls “ceremony” (no article). Sam and Buck will take ayahuasca to open themselves up to the medicine’s spirit, what Jacob refers to as “she” or “her.”
Sam’s cynicism of the process echoes in some way that of the reader. Lansky’s use of a trip to effect some deeper personal revelation is, while a bit flimsy, a strategy not to forget the body. A work that traces consciousness—brilliant recent examples by Garth Greenwell and Brandon Taylor come to mind—can, if done poorly, start to look like a disembodied head thinking on the page. Lansky places Sam’s body in grave physical danger, and he gets a preview of the terrifying effects the drug will have on him. Sam becomes aware of “a black mass in his belly, sore and tumescent, the color and texture of lava rock.” But the stakes are higher than whatever Sam needs to emit from his core. Jacob asks Sam and Buck not to die during ceremony. Lansky merges the florid, roving language of an unsettled mind with the churning, roaring, “twisting and gawping” sensations within Sam’s organs. This vivid interplay, disconnect, and tension offers readers a beautiful portrait of Sam the inconsolable initiate.
Lansky puts Sam on a path to be shown places within himself from which he’s long hidden. On each night of ceremony, Sam travels deeper into his past, revisiting memories of former lovers and flings, ever doubtful that he’ll be healed. He’s reunited with his 25-year-old self. As a rather hopeful man who, sober and newly recovered from a period of addiction, Sam sees the world with possibility. Dating in New York, Sam asks himself, “When will I be loved?” He gets a chance at an enchanting life with Charles, a dashing, well-dressed risk analyst whose family money and finance job offer Sam comfort, beauty, and freedom. They spend weekends in the Hamptons, vacations in Paris, and thousands at Louis Vuitton. But beyond the veneer, there’s so much, Sam doesn’t wish to remember. “I don’t know why all the little things feel like big things,” Sam tells Charles during a heated exchange. There are tantrums thrown, fits of paralysis threaten the writing of his first memoir, and Sam sees through Charles’ eyes the surprising “capacity for cruelty” he himself possessed. At the heart of Sam’s brokenness lies fear. Except it looks like lashing out to the ones who love him the most.
Throughout the novel, Lansky weaves the story of Sam’s relationship with Noah, a reckless but also hardened man who had a rougher history of addiction than Sam. While his character is less nuanced than Charles, Noah illuminates Sam’s desire for danger, prompting an important facet of the story Sam tells himself about who he is. In a final twist, Lansky delivers an exciting formal flourish while on his last trip. His narrator-self and character-self split in two, two Is that look at one another. It’s a bold aesthetic choice that Lansky pulls off with considerable style. This, as Edmund White says, is the great experience one has in reading fiction, the splitting of a self. Such a disorientation results in re-seeing what we’ve long resisted looking at.
“The great curse of being a person in the world—you only ever get to be yourself,” writes Lansky. Yet Broken People ends on a note of hope. For Sam’s shamanic experience doesn’t fix anything that’s wrong with him, for nothing was wrong—except his perspective. Sam doesn’t get to be different, but he can train himself to see differently. His troubled past wasn’t the problem so much as how he saw his memories, how those memories made him think himself broken. Lansky’s choice to turn the seemingly true events of his life into a work of fiction, through the rather harrowing aide-memoire of an out-of-body trip, creates the distance a work of self-examination requires. Into the space Sam makes for himself, he emerges more generous. His flaws form a fuller self, rather than the sapped one some carry from coast to coast.
Broken PeopleBy Sam Lanksy
Hanover Square Press
Paperback, 9781335013934, 304 pp.
Melissa Bashardoust’s Girl, Serpent, Thorn has the lushness of a fairy tale and the boldness of the best contemporary YA fantasy. This opulent novel, inspired by traditional Persian stories, combines all the romance and intrigue of high fantasy with a deep exploration of the main character’s emotional world and relationship to her own strength. Back matter, including an extensive Author’s Note, provides more context about the fairy tales, myths, traditions, and cultural references that Bashardoust has woven into the novel, as well as suggestions for further reading for those interested in learning more.
Soraya, the shah’s sister, is hidden away from the public eye so that no one will discover the curse a div, or demon, placed upon her as a child: by sending div blood coursing through her veins, the demon ensured any living being Soraya touches will instantly die. When a mysterious, handsome soldier offers to help undo her curse, Soraya is smitten––and quickly embroiled in a political battle that sees her family’s rule upended in a coup d’état. The soldier turns out to be the feared half-man, half-div Shahmar, and he wants Soraya, another human who knows what it’s like to be part-div, to join his side in submitting the humans and divs to his violent rule.
Soraya is successful at undoing her curse, but now she must figure out how to stop the Shahmar from murdering her entire family, while still feigning interest in his romantic advances. To make matters more complicated, Soraya finds herself falling for Parvaneh, a female div who helped turn the Shahmar into the powerful creature he is and has regretted it ever since. Soraya isn’t sure she can trust a div like Parvaneh––especially one who proves so alluring––but with no other allies, she doesn’t have much choice.
The two team up to try to outwit the Shahmar and save Soraya’s family and Parvaneh’s fellow divs before it’s too late. As they sneak around the Shahmar’s heavily-guarded mountain fortress, their attraction deepens, with each touch a heightened sensation for Soraya, who spent so many years unable to even risk brushing up against another person for fear of striking them dead. Soraya describes the spark between her and Parvaneh as a kind of “wanderlust,” with her fingertips yearning “to explore new landscapes, new textures.” As the danger ramps up, these quiet moments between Soraya and Parvaneh become a tender respite, dramatizing Soraya’s longing for intimacy, both physical and emotional.
The story is sexy, bloody, and luxurious, but perhaps the most interesting part is the way Soraya slowly begins to see the things that have always made her different as not a weakness, but a strength. Her curse may have been just that––a curse––but it also gave her a way to defend herself. And when she makes a choice later in the book that means risking becoming cursed again, it is because she understands the div blood that ran through her veins in a new way. Perhaps being different doesn’t mean being shameful. Perhaps it doesn’t have to mean hiding away.
In a story about a protagonist who experiences attraction to more than one gender, this character arc is especially affirming. The Shahmar may be the first one to tell Soraya, “You and I don’t belong fully to either world,” but it is Parvaneh’s gentle love that helps Soraya see maybe she can simply belong to both: “Soraya no longer had to choose between one piece of herself and another. She could be whole.”
Girl, Serpent, Thorn
By Melissa Bashardoust
Hardcover, 9781250764942, 336 pp.
Must-See LGBTQ TV: ‘Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado’ and ‘The Old Guard’ drop on Netflix
Grab the remote, set your DVR or queue up your streaming service of choice! GLAAD is bringing you the LGBTQ highlights on TV this week. Check back every Sunday for up-to-date coverage in LGBTQ-inclusive programming on TV.
Documentary Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado premieres on Wednesday. Every day for decades, Walter Mercado — the iconic, non-conforming TV personality— mesmerized 120 million viewers with his extravagance and positivity. Then he vanished from the public eye. The film takes a look into his life, that mystery, and his enduring legacy. Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado: Wednesday, on Netflix.
A new Netflix film, The Old Guard, will be released on Friday. The film follows a group of mysterious group of immortal mercenaries who have fought to protect the world for centuries. But when their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile to help the group eliminate the threat of those who seek to replicate and monetize their power by any means necessary. The group includes Joe and Nicky, two men deeply in love. The Old Guard: Friday, on Netflix.
Monday: I May Destroy You (9pm, HBO)