MTV follows Sean Combs at Fashion Week, PBS examines Zora Neale Hurston’s life

Tonight, two documentaries explore two very different personalities in culture: author Zora Neale Hurston and music mogul and reality star Sean Combs.

First, at 9 p.m. ET, PBS’ American Masters series examines the life of Zora Neale Hurston, perhaps best known as the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, although she wrote both fiction and nonfiction. The profile, titled “Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun,” is narrated by S. Epatha Merkerson and includes interviews with authors and scholars such as Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

In its review, The New York Times says that “[t]he real goal in any examination of Hurston’s life, though, has to be to capture her character and contradictions” and “[t]he film doesn’t completely succeed at this, partly, it seems, because there isn’t much documentary evidence of Hurston herself outside of her writings.” The Boston Globe says that it “clearly does some skipping and jumping around to fit such an extraordinary life into a brisk 90 minutes” but is “more than enough to pique further interest in a writer who was strong, opinionated, and unwilling to be quieted.”

At 10 p.m., MTV follows its reality star Sean “P Diddy” Combs as he creates a line for fall Fashion Week. The documentary, If I Were King, is “an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at Diddy, the hands-on designer who runs a half-billion-dollar empire, yet still pins dresses on the workroom floor,” MTV says.

Diddy told the New York Daily News that he was unused to such an intimate look at his life. “This type of access is new for me and it wasn’t always comfortable, but after a while, I forgot the cameras were there and you get to just see the truth. And as far as my background, not coming from design school and some people not even knowing that I do the actual designing, I thought it would be an interesting story and I thought it would be inspiring and educational for other upcoming designers,” he said.

Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun [PBS]
If I Were King [MTV]
Sean Combs is the ‘King’ of design [New York Daily News]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.