HBO’s documentary series includes Ganja Queen and Hard Times at Douglas High

All summer long, HBO is debuting a new documentary film every Monday. This Monday, for example, HBO debuted Ganja Queen, the story of Schapelle Corby, an Australian woman who’s in a prison in Indonesia until 2024 for marijuana found in her luggage that she says doesn’t belong to her. The film was directed by Janine Hosking, and it airs throughout this month. (Its trailer–which is compelling by itself–is below.)

Last Monday’s debut was noteworthy for its subject matter, and because it was directed by Alan and Susan Raymond, the people essentially responsible for the world’s first reality TV show. They produced An American Family in the early 1970s, a narrative, episodic documentary that directly inspired The Real World 20 years later, and that gave way to Survivor, and so forth.

The Raymonds’ new film is called Hard Times at Douglas High, and like their Oscar-winning 1993 film I Am a Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary School, it follows students and teachers at a school, in this case, Baltimore’s Frederick Douglass High over one year. HBO says the new documentary “provides a context for the national debate over the controversial No Child Left Behind Act, focusing on the brutal inequalities of American minority education.”

It repeats Wednesday night and airs throughout July, and will also be released on DVD next week.

Here are the trailers for the two films:

HBO Documentaries: Documentary Films Series, Hard Times at Douglas High, and Ganja Queen [HBO]

The Sing-Off loses its star

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NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


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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.