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Summer 2023 documentaries and specials that are streaming and on TV

Summer 2023 documentaries and specials that are streaming and on TV
Stephen Curry on Holey Moley season 1. He'll be back as the show's golf pro—and an executive producer—for season two. (Photo by Eric McCandless/ABC)

This summer, alongside all of the tentpole reality TV, there will be plenty of other nonfiction television: profiles of celebrities (Gabrielle Union, Stephan Curry), deep dives into culture (American Gladiators, Ashley Madison), and investigations of trends (fundamentalist, evangelical Christian moms breaking with their communities to support their kids).

The guide below includes those documentaries and nonfiction specials that are premiering on broadcast, cable, premium, and streaming TV services, including PBS, HBO, Max, Netflix, Hulu, and BET+. Some premieres are theatrical films making their television debuts, while others are original to television.

For documentaries that premiered before June 1, 2023, and may still be streaming, refer to the spring 2023 documentary premiere guide.

While I occasionally include multi-part documentaries here, this list generally does not include documentary series. My admittedly arbitrary and imperfect definition of a doc series includes multiple episodes airing over multiple weeks, mirroring episodic television. Those kinds of documentary series will be listed on my reality TV schedule and guide.

In this guide, all times listed are in ET/PT, and are accurate at the time of publication. I update this list frequently, but since networks and streaming services often change their schedules, sometimes at the last minute, please check your guide or other TV listings.

Program descriptions in quotation marks indicate text that has come directly from network press releases, the show’s website, or other official materials.

I always welcome updates, additions, and corrections to this list, so I can make it as comprehensive, accurate, and useful as possible. Just e-mail me. Thank you!

Summer 2023 documentary premieres on TV

June | July | August

June 2023

The Scripps National Spelling Bee (ION and Bounce, Thursday, June 1, at 8). The finals of “the nation’s largest and longest-running educational program, having launched in 1925”; semifinals will stream online and elsewhere in the days preceding

Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets (Amazon Prime Video, June 2). “the truth beneath the wholesome Americana surface of reality TV’s favorite mega-family, The Duggars, and the radically controversial organization behind them: The Institute in Basic Life Principles”

American Masters: Little Richard: King and Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll (PBS, Friday, June 2, at 9). “Featuring on-camera interviews with Keith Richards and Ringo Starr as well as transgender activist Sir Lady Java, and nonbinary rapper Big Freedia, among many other luminaries, […] illuminates the rock royal’s story through exclusive rare audio recordings made by his authorized biographer, Charles White (aka Dr. Rock). This indelible portrait explores Little Richard’s far-reaching influence—which is still deeply felt in pop culture today—as well as his tireless advocacy for the rights of Black artists in the music industry.”

TLC Forever (Lifetime and A&E, Saturday, June 3, at 8). “chronicles the journey of the female group who led the way with their music, their message, and their style. For the first time, T-Boz and Chilli and other music industry colleagues detail their story and lives in how they broke boundaries, influenced an entire generation and survived against all odds”

Week of June 4, 2023

Ancient Armageddon (Science Channel, Sunday, June 4, at 9). “explores the mysterious and catastrophic collapse of ancient civilizations during the late Bronze Age, revealing the tumultuous events that brought an end to a thriving era of human history”

Burden of Proof (Max, June 6; HBO, Tuesday and Wednesday, June 6 and 7, at 9). “When 15-year-old Jennifer Pandos went missing in 1987, her parents told everyone she ran away. Decades later, her brother Stephen begins a relentless odyssey in search of the truth. His investigation into the case threatens to destroy his family as he becomes strongly convinced that his parents are both implicated in the crime. As time passes, more threads unravel and new evidence comes to light, Stephen starts to question everything he has come to believe.”

El Show. Crónica de un asesinato (ViX, June 7). “traces the judicial process and television coverage of the murder of one of the most popular communicators and comedians on Mexican television,” Stanley Albaitero

The Playing Card Killer (Netflix, June 9). “A playing card left at a murder scene connects a string of killings in this docuseries tracking a notorious serial killer who terrorized Spain in 2003”

Week of June 11, 2023

Jurassic Ghost Town: A Mass Murder Mystery (Science Channel, Sunday, June 11, at 9). “An international team of paleontologists investigates a 150 million year old cold case. Fifteen giant dinosaur skeletons lie buried in a remote corner of Wyoming’s badlands. The team’s mission is to discover why they were here and what killed them.”

Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts (PBS, Monday, June 12, at 10; World Channel, Monday, June 19, at 9). “Explore the complex history of Black soldiers in the UnitedStates military. Director and producer Dru Holley weaves together the testimony of historians, experts, and descendants of Buffalo Soldiers with archival photographs, reenactments, and animation to tell the story of how newly free Black Americans enlisted in the U.S. Army. For the Buffalo Soldiers, their service was a reliable path to income and greater respect, and in the process, they helped to both fulfill America’s Manifest Destiny and disrupt the lives of Indigenous peoples.”

Frontline: America’s Dangerous Trucks (PBS, Tuesday, June 13, at 10). “investigates one particularly gruesome kind of truck accident — underride crashes — and why they keep happening. Drawing on more than a year of reporting — including leaked documents and interviews with former government insiders, trucking industry representatives, and families of underride crash victims — the documentary reveals how, for decades, federal regulators proposed new rules to try to prevent underride crashes. Over and over, pushback from trucking industry lobbyists won the day, leaving drivers of smaller vehicles vulnerable.”

How Do You Measure a Year (HBO, Wednesday, June 14, at 9). “For 17 years, filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt filmed his daughter Ella on her birthday in the same spot, asking her the same questions. In just 29 minutes, we watch her grow from a toddler to a young woman with all the beautiful and sometimes awkward stages in between. Each phase is captured fleetingly but makes an indelible mark. Her responses to her father’s questions are just a backdrop for a deeper story of parental love, acceptance, and ultimately, independence.”

Gabrielle Union: My Journey To 50 (BET+, June 15). “captures Union’s transformative and inspiring experience of rediscovering and reconnecting with her own heritage while celebrating the shared experiences, heritage, and culture of the Black community. Viewers will follow Union, her husband Dwyane Wade, their family, and loved ones as they connect with the diaspora and commemorate this milestone birthday”

Loudmouth (Showtime On Demand, June 16; Showtime, Sunday, June 18 at 10). “chronicles Reverend [Al] Sharpton’s path from racial justice firebrand to elder media statesman, and his work for social change from the streets of 1980s Brooklyn to 2020 Minneapolis, with never-before-seen footage on the front lines, in the media and in the corridors of power, to paint an intimate and revealing portrait of this tireless activist”

Exposing Parchman (A&E, Saturday, June 17, at 8). “explores the ongoing efforts to reform the Mississippi correctional system, led by a team of attorneys on behalf of Parchman Prison’s incarcerated population,” who face “inhumane prison conditions that resulted in massive deaths of incarcerated individuals by homicide, hanging, and untreated illness.”

Week of June 18, 2023

Take Care of Maya (Netflix, June 19). “When nine-year-old Maya Kowalski was admitted to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in 2016, nothing could have prepared her or her family for what they were about to go through. As the medical team tried to understand her rare illness, they began to question the basic truths that bound the Kowalskis together. Suddenly, Maya was in state custody—despite two parents who were desperate to bring their daughter home. The story of the Kowalski family—as told in their own words—will change the way you look at children’s healthcare forever.”

You Are Here (AMC, Monday, June 19, and Friday, June 30, at 7). “award-winning actor, writer and director Colman Domingo … takes viewers on intimate tours of the cities, places and hidden spots that hold special meaning in his life story”

Black Pop: Celebrating the Power of Black Culture (E!, Monday, June 19 and 20 at 8). “The special event will cover all genres of pop culture and entertainment – celebrating music from the gospel roots of Mahalia Jackson to the Motown sound, the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, Black culture’s undisputable impact on fashion, television trailblazers from Diahann Carroll to Oprah Winfrey, sports legends like Sugar Ray Leonard and Laila Ali, the evolution of Black films and the pivotal talents that paved the way – all creating a cultural legacy that set the tone.”

Where is Baby Gabriel? (Peacock, June 20). “Gabriel Johnson, a baby missing since 2009, was last seen with his mother Elizabeth; this docuseries delves into the twists and deceit surrounding his disappearance in a search for the truth.”

Independent Lens: Mama Bears (PBS, Tuesday, June 20, 10). “Although they grew up as fundamentalist, evangelical Christians, these moms are now willing to risk losing friends, family, and faith communities to champion their kids — even if it challenges their belief systems and rips apart their worlds.”

The Stroll (HBO, Wednesday, June 21, at 9). “When Director Kristen Lovell moved to New York City in the 1990s and began to transition, she was fired from her job. With so few options to earn money to survive, Kristen, like many transgender women of color during this era, began sex work in an area known as ‘The Stroll’ in the Meatpacking District of lower Manhattan, where trans women congregated and forged a deep camaraderie to protect each other from harassment and violence.”

Below the Belt: The Last Health Taboo (PBS, Wednesday, June 21, 10). “Through the personal and inspiring stories of four patients urgently searching for answers to mysterious symptoms, BELOW THE BELT exposes widespread problems in our healthcare system that disproportionately affect women. From societal taboos and gender bias to misinformed doctors and financial barriers to care, the film shines a light on how millions are effectively silenced. Through its powerful, intimate storytelling, it is a tribute to the strength of women and a stirring message for better care.”

China’s Corporate Spy War (CNBC, Wednesday, June 21, at 10). “delves into the undercover world of economic espionage and details an illicit campaign by China’s government to steal high tech trade secrets from some of the biggest companies in the U.S. While many American executives have long assumed that the main goal of the espionage campaign is simply to compete with American companies, CNBC’s Eamon Javers reveals that U.S. officials believe Beijing’s goal in many cases is much more ambitious—the Chinese government wants to eliminate key American companies altogether”

Liv Ullmann: A Road Less Travelled (Viaplay, June 22). “explores greatness, legacy and longevity in the life of the world-famous artist, actor, author, director, and Honorary Oscar winner Liv Ullmann. This inspiring documentary explores the struggles all women face in their fight for having a career, a voice and the respect they deserve—a fight that Liv Ullmann has been fighting long before modern feminism.”

King of Clones (Netflix, June 23). “From groundbreaking human cloning research to a scandalous downfall, this documentary tells the captivating story of Korea’s most notorious scientist.”

Week of June 25, 2023

POV: After Sherman (Monday, June 26, at 10). “director Jon-Sesrie Goff’s feature debut about inheritance and the tension that defines our collective American history. The film explores coastal South Carolina as a site of pride and racial trauma through Gullah cultural retention and land preservation.”

American Experience: Casa Susanna (PBS, Tuesday, June 27, at 9). “In the 1950s and 60s, an underground network of transgender women and cross-dressing men found refuge at a modest house in the Catskills region of New York. Known as Casa Susanna, the house provided a safe place to express their true selves and live for a few days as they had always dreamed — dressed as women without fear of being incarcerated or institutionalized for their self-expression. Told through the memories of those whose visits to the house would change their lives, the film provides a moving look back at a secret world where the persecuted and frightened found freedom, acceptance and, often, the courage to live their lives out of the shadows.”

Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music (HBO, Tuesday, June 27, at 9). “In 2016, Taylor Mac performed a one-time-only, 24-hour immersive theatrical experience in front of a live audience at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. The concert offered an alternative take on U.S. history, narrated through music that was popular from the nation’s founding to the present, with Mac transforming hourly by changing into elaborate, decade-specific costumes by Mac’s longtime collaborator Machine Dazzle. The documentary […] captures Mac’s marathon performance in New York, alongside footage from other shows on the tour, which played throughout the world”

Anthem (Hulu, June 28). “follows acclaimed composer Kris Bowers (Bridgerton, When They See Us, King Richard) and GRAMMY-winning music producer Dahi (Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, Drake) as they take a musical journey traveling across America to create a new sound, inspired by what our country’s national anthem might be if written in today’s time”

Muscles & Mayhem: An Unauthorized Story of American Gladiators (Netflix, June 28). “chronicles the meteoric rise, dramatic fall, and gripping behind-the-scenes stories of one of the biggest spectacles on television during the height of the ’90s. Told first hand from the stars who lived through it, this five part series reveals untold stories of the iconic American Gladiators’ triumph, turmoil, and ultimate price of fame”

Eldorado: Everything the Nazis Hate (Netflix, June 28). “A glittery nightclub in 1920s Berlin becomes a haven for the queer community in this documentary exploring the freedoms lost amid Hitler’s rise to power”

Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed (HBO, Tuesday, June 28, at 9). “an intimate portrait of actor Rock Hudson, one of Hollywood’s most celebrated leading men of the 1950’s and ‘60’s and an icon of Hollywood’s Golden Age, whose diagnosis and eventual death from AIDS in 1985 shocked the world, subsequently shifting the way the public perceived the AIDS pandemic. Born Roy Fitzgerald and renamed “Rock Hudson” by his agent, with his 6’5” frame, strong physique and chiseled good looks, Hudson was the embodiment of romantic masculinity and heterosexuality. The film explores the story of a man living a double life, one whose public persona was carefully manufactured by his handlers and orchestrated by the studio system, while fearing a potentially career-ending discovery that he was privately living as a gay man.”

July 2023

Week of July 2, 2023

Unknown: The Lost Pyramid (Netflix, July 3). “In the desert sands of Saqqara, the latest hotspot of Egyptian archaeology, two of the world’s most famous Egyptologists seek to unearth ancient treasures. The legendary Dr. Zahi Hawass hunts for the long-lost pyramid of a forgotten Egyptian king while his protege and rival, Dr. Mostafa Waziri, searches for an unlooted tomb in an ancient necropolis. Both teams race against the clock to see who will make the bigger discovery and make their mark in history”

POV: A Story of Bones (PBS, Monday, July 3, at 10). “As Chief Environmental Officer for St. Helena’s troubled airport project, Annina van Neel learns about an unmarked mass burial ground of an estimated 9,000 formerly enslaved Africans. Haunted by this historical injustice, she and African American preservationist Peggy King Jorde fight for the proper memorialization of these forgotten victims, exposing the UK’s disturbing colonial past and present.”

The King Who Never Was (Netflix, July 4). “sheds light on the killing of a German teenager in ’78 through the accounts of his sister and the royal family involved in the case”

Wham! (Netflix, July 5). “Through archival interviews and footage, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley relive the arc of their Wham! career, from 70s best buds to 80s pop icons”

CMA Fest: 50 Years of Fan Fair (Hulu, July 5). “Told through exclusive interviews with Country Music’s most notable artists and never-before-seen performances, … celebrates the festival’s humble beginnings to the four-day event that now draws over 90,000 fans daily”

Shaun White: The Last Run (Max, Thursday, July 6). “a revealing portrait of three-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the greatest athletes in two separate sports, snowboarding and skateboarding, Shaun White. It is a story that includes childhood struggles with a congenital heart condition, the development of his unbeatable talent, sacrifices made by his unconventional but remarkably supportive parents, the move into pro-snowboarding at a young age, and of course, his exploits at the Olympics, where he holds the record for most gold medals by a snowboarder”

The Ashley Madison Affair (Hulu, July 7). “chronicles the rise, fall, and improbable resurgence of Ashley Madison, the dating website aimed at marriage cheats”

Week of July 9, 2023

Siegfried & Roy: The Original Tiger Kings (Reelz, Sunday, July 9, at 9). “the ultra-exotic world of Siegfried and Roy may not have always been what it seemed as the magicians lived by the art of illusion off stage as well painstakingly crafting myths about their relationships with their tigers and even with each other. Then after building that empire based on smoke, mirrors and giant cats Siegfried and Roy’s longstanding world of illusions was destroyed by one fateful onstage encounter with a rogue tiger in front of a sold-out audience.”

Unknown: Killer Robots (Netflix, July 10). “What happens when a machine makes life-or-death decisions? This documentary explores the dangers of artificial intelligence in military application.”

POV: Liquor Store Dreams (PBS, Monday, July 10, at 10). “two Korean American children of liquor store owners reconcile their own dreams with those of their immigrant parents. Along the way, they confront the complex legacies of LA’s racial landscape, including the 1991 murder of Latasha Harlins and the 1992 uprisings sparked by the police beating of Rodney King, while engaged in current struggles for racial and economic justice.”

Secrets of Miss America (A&E, Monday, July 10, at 10). “delves into the long-kept secrets of America’s oldest beauty pageant, exposing the shocking scandals at its core. A cultural event once viewed by 80 million people a year, the pageant now struggles to stay relevant to a new generation of Americans whose views on beauty and sexual politics have changed drastically over the past few decades. The special analyzes whistle blower leaked emails in 2017 exposing misogyny within the Board of Directors, claims of racism in the pageant’s history, the topic of mental health surrounding the competition and the banning of the controversial swimsuit competition. Told by pageant insiders including more than 20 former Miss Americas telling their stories in one documentary for the first time, whistleblowers, contemporary contestants, executives and critics, viewers get a glimpse at the cost of wearing the crown and sash and how pageant culture perpetuated racism, bullying, body shaming, and much more.”

Myth of the Zodiac Killer (Peacock, July 11). “sheds light on America’s most famous cold case by asking a question that no one else has ever dared ask: what if the reason the Zodiac has never been caught…is because he never existed in the first place?”

Betrayal: The Perfect Husband (Hulu, July 11). “a love story gone terribly wrong. Jen Faison says she thought she had found her happy ending with her college sweetheart, a beloved high school teacher named Spencer Herron. However, their seemingly perfect life implodes one spring afternoon when Faison discovers that behind her fairytale romance was a web of lies, affairs and criminal sexual assault”

Philosopher of the Sea (Viaplay, July 11). “At the ripe age of 83, Swedish sailor Sven Yrvind has become a renowned figure around the world for his solo voyages across the oceans. For the last five years, we have had the privilege to observe closely as Yrvind puts together his boat and readies himself for the difficulty of being alone on the open sea – a journey spanning almost 15,000 miles from Ireland to New Zealand, estimated to take 300 days. Although many view Yrvind’s project as a reckless venture, he himself believes that he is one of the few sane people in the world. However, the real exploration behind this journey is of a much deeper nature; an exploration into how we choose to live our lives.”

Frontline: Putin’s Crisis (PBS, Tuesday, July 11, at 9). “draws on both new interviews and FRONTLINE’s rich archive of reporting on the Russian leader, telling the inside story of Putin’s rise, his clashes at home and abroad, and how his war on Ukraine led to unexpected new challenges to his power.”

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (Bravo, Thursday, July 13, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.). “Bravo celebrates the 20-year anniversary of its iconic Emmy Award-winning series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy with a supersized marathon … [that] will feature fan-favorite episodes from the beginning and culminate with its 10-year reunion special”

The Jewel Thief (Hulu, July 13). “an unbelievable firsthand account of Gerald Blanchard, one of the most creative, calculating, and accomplished criminal masterminds in modern history” that follows “two unlikely Winnipeg detectives who track Blanchard across the globe as he perpetrates a series of increasingly elaborate heists in a quest for fame and notoriety through a life of crime”

Imagine Dragons Live in Vegas (Hulu, July 14). “Far from the days of playing in dive bars and casinos across the Las Vegas Strip, Imagine Dragons returns home to perform at the city’s largest stage, Allegiant Stadium, in a triumphant concert film that showcases the band’s rise to fame and the city that helped shape their sound”

Week of July 16, 2023

Goliath (Paramount+ with Showtime, July 14; Showtime, Sunday, July 16, 23, and 30, at 10). “Utilizing groundbreaking artificial intelligence to recreate Chamberlain’s voice to narrate his own words and archival footage provided by the Wilt Chamberlain Estate, GOLIATH tells the complete story of Chamberlain’s remarkable life and how it fits into the fabric of American history. Beginning with his emergence on the national scene as a high schooler in the 1950’s and following the arc of his life through his death in 1999, each episode of GOLIATH highlights a specific element of Chamberlain’s cultural impact, focusing on the areas of power, money, race, sex, politics and celebrity.”

Unknown: Cave of Bones (Netflix, July 17). “Scientists examine underground clues from over 250,000 years ago that raise questions about our early relatives — and what it truly means to be human”

Uphill Climb: The Women Who Conquered The Impossible Race (Peacock, July 17). “chronicles the struggle of riders who fought for equality in cycling when then odds were stacked against them,” the women who ” navigated the same courses as their male counterparts, defying immense odds and shattering stereotypes of female athletes”

Below Deck Sailing Yacht Reunion (Bravo, Monday, July 17, at 9, and Tuesday, July 18, at 9). “Andy Cohen virtually catches up with Captain Glenn Shephard, Chef Ileisha Dell, Lucy Edmunds, Mads Herrera, Daisy Kelliher, Gary King, Chase Lemacks, Colin MacRae and Alex Propson to discuss the season”

POV: A House Made of Splinters (PBS, Monday, July 17, at 10). “In a war-worn and impoverished corner of Eastern Ukraine where addiction casts a long shadow, is a safe haven for children temporarily removed from their parents. The Oscar-nominated documentary from director Simon Lereng Wilmont follows three children awaiting their fate while a group of dedicated social workers create small moments of joy and respite from childhood’s all but lost.”

I Wanna Rock: The ’80s Metal Dream (Paramount+, July 18). “follows five young dreamers chasing stardom in the cutthroat world of ’80s metal” — “John Corabi (Mötley Crüe), Janet Gardner (Vixen), Vicky Hamilton, Dave ‘Snake’ Sabo (Van Halen) and Kip Winger (Winger)”

Little Island (All Arts, Tuesday, July 18, at 8). “takes viewers behind the scenes of the unique public space in Manhattan’s Hudson River Park to showcase the thought behind its innovative design, including the curation of its landscape, performance spaces and distinctive New York City vistas”

The Deepest Breath (Netflix, July 19). “The story of a champion freediver and expert safety diver, whose lives seemed fated to converge at the height of their careers. A look at the thrilling rewards — and inescapable risks — of chasing dreams through the depths of the ocean”

Superpowered: the DC Story (Max, July 20). “an unprecedented look at the enduring and influential legacy of DC, allowing fans to rediscover the universe of characters, as well as the iconic comic book company’s origins, its evolution and its nearly nine-decade cultural impact across every artistic medium. Featuring a wealth of interviews with the industry’s most prolific creators and the actors who bring their iconic characters from the page to the screen”

Stephan Curry: Underrated (Apple TV+, July 21). “The remarkable coming-of-age story of one of the most influential, dynamic and unexpected players in the history of basketball: Stephen Curry. This feature documentary — blending intimate cinéma vérité, archival footage and on camera interviews — documents Curry’s rise from an undersized college player at a small town Division I college to a four-time NBA champion, building one of the most dominant sports dynasties in the world”

Week of July 23, 2023

The Gilgo Beach Killer (CNN, Sunday, July 23, at 8). “a deep dive from CNN Correspondent Brynn Gingras into the 13-year investigation into multiple murders of young women along Gilgo Beach and the man, Rex Heuermann, who has now been charged with these crimes”

Crossings (World Channel, Sunday, July 23, at 10). “a group of international women peacemakers sets out on a risky journey across the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, calling for a peace agreement that would bring a formal end to this conflict. … Their groundbreaking action, as well as the extreme reactions they face in both South Korea and the United States, is captured in an intimate cinema vérité style framed by historic newsreels of the Korean War and dramatic contemporary news coverage. From threats of annihilation to promises of peace, the rollercoaster ride of U.S.-North Korea relations provides key moments of drama throughout the story.”

Unknown: Cosmic Time Machine (Netflix, July 24). “The James Webb Telescope stirs imaginations with vivid photos of distant galaxies. This documentary tracks its historic journey from inception to launch.”

POV: Eat Your Catfish (PBS, Monday, July 24, at 10). “Paralyzed by late-stage ALS and reliant on round-the-clock care, Kathryn clings to a mordant wit as she yearns to witness her daughter’s wedding. Drawn from 930 hours of footage shot from her fixed point of view, Eat Your Catfish delivers a brutally frank and darkly humorous portrait of a family teetering on the brink, grappling with the daily demands of disability and in-home caregiving.”

The Golden Boy (HBO, Monday and Tuesday, July 24 and 25, at 9). “By the age of 19, Oscar De La Hoya was an Olympic boxing gold medalist, a multi-world title-winning professional boxer, a hometown hero and a role model to his Mexican-American community in East Los Angeles. Nicknamed ‘The Golden Boy,’ De La Hoya—with his good looks, electric charisma, and heartfelt story of winning Olympic gold for his dying mother—rocketed to national prominence as a superstar both in and outside the ring. But all was not what it appeared to be behind that polished facade. Told in De La Hoya’s own words through a series of candid interviews with him and those closest to him, and featuring rare archival footage, THE GOLDEN BOY peels back the layers of this celebrated yet complicated figure, exploring his triumphs and turmoil to reveal a man struggling to come to terms with lifelong demons and the impossible burden of a nickname he couldn’t live up to.”

Missing: The Lucie Blackman Case (Netflix, July 26). “July 1, 2000. British 21-year-old Lucie Blackman goes missing in Tokyo, sparking an international investigation — and a years-long quest for justice”

Big Brother 25th Anniversary Celebration (CBS, Wednesday, July 26, at 9). ET’s Nischelle Turner hosts a “special [that] features 24 seasons of archival footage from the ET vault and exclusive interviews” and “highlights over the years, including the showmances, biggest feuds and rivalries, shocking twists, historic houseguests and groundbreaking moments in reality TV history”

After the Bite (HBO, Wednesday, July 26, at 10). “a deep dive into how one coastal community is renegotiating their relationship with our rapidly changing environment. The changes are numerous: warmer waters, species interacting where they never had before, along with the rapidly increasing numbers of the shark’s favorite prey, the North Atlantic gray seal, whose population has rebounded since seals were protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972”

Mother Undercover (Hulu, July 27). “tells the tales of four courageous mothers on a mission to save or get justice for their children. Across four captivating episodes, audiences will witness the extraordinary lengths mothers will go to protect their children. In incidents of murder, international kidnapping, mass suicide and judicial corruption, these four mothers transform into undercover detectives, mounting covert operations and taking matters into their own hands”

The Heiress and the Heist (Sundance Now and AMC+, July 27). “the story of Rose Dugdale, the English heiress who abandoned her life of privilege to join the IRA and was the mastermind behind some of the most audacious and radical schemes of 1974”

The Lady of Silence: The Mataviejitas Murders (Netflix, July 27). “Between 1998 and 2005, nearly 50 elderly women were killed in Mexico City, triggering the hunt for — and capture — of a most unlikely suspect”

How to Become a Cult Leader (Netflix, July 28). “Disguised as a guidebook for capturing a devoted cult following, this docuseries takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the rise of six famed flock leaders”

Week of July 30, 2023

Metal Monsters: The Righteous Redeemer (Max, July 30). “a behind-the-scenes look at the hilarious, wickedly talented Rick Disharoon and his small-town, family-owned business, The Metal Shop, as the team gets the chance of a lifetime: to build an epic monster truck for Danny McBride and one of Hollywood’s biggest television shows, The Righteous Gemstones”

American Nightmare: Cody Rhodes (Peacock, July 31). “follows Cody’s journey away from the WWE, and his return at WrestleMania 38 last year, as he chases the dream of winning the WWE championship, the one title his father was never able to claim. Through never-before-seen footage and unprecedented access, this Peacock Original illustrates the transformation of a man who is blazing a new trail in sports entertainment.”

POV: Children of the Mist (PBS, Monday, July 31, at 10). “delves into the tradition of ‘bride kidnapping’ practiced by the Hmong, one of Vietnam’s largest ethnic groups. Hà Lệ Diễm’s directorial feature-length debut is a tender portrait of a community on the cusp of tradition and modernity and one girl tragically stuck in the middle”

August 2023

Mixtape (Paramount+, Aug. 1). “the story of hip hop refusing to take no for an answer. Before radio play, the internet, and social media, there were mixtapes. DJs were tastemakers, trendsetters and creators of the sound that became the biggest musical genre on the planet. The importance of mixtapes goes well beyond the tapes themselves. Mixtapes were a form of currency and a signifier that someone was “in the know” and had their ear to the streets. The culture was too strong to be stopped, and the artists were too talented to be ignored—so they turned the sub-culture into the mainstream, and made hip hop what it is today”

Untold: Jake Paul the Problem Child (Netflix, Aug. 1). “an unflinching deep dive into how a wide-eyed kid from Ohio morphed from Internet sensation to most polarizing man in sports”

Mark Cavendish: Never Enough (Netflix, Aug. 2). “Intimate and captivating, this documentary charts the meteoric rise, tragic downfall and unbelievable comeback of professional cyclist Mark Cavendish”

Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food (Netflix, Aug. 2). “Through revealing interviews with experts and victims’ families, this gripping documentary examines the problem of deadly foodborne illness in the US”

Demons and Saviors (Hulu, Aug. 3). “tells the remarkable story of Christina Boyer– once infamously known as the “poltergeist girl,” now a woman convicted of murdering her three-year-old daughter. Thirty years into a life sentence, Christina still proclaims her innocence. The series follows a group of amateur sleuths who have become consumed by their obsession to exonerate her”

The Last Hours of Mario Biondo (Netflix, Aug. 3). “Questions persist about the last night of Mario Biondo, the husband of Spanish TV host Raquel Sánchez Silva”

The Wild Sides (AMC+, Aug. 5; BBC America, Aug. 5, 12, and 19 at 8). “showcases that in an extreme landscape all animal families’ path cross; each one’s plot is affected by the next and everyone has their side of the story. Mashatu in Botswana is their home through drought, flood and abundance. Elephant, cheetah, leopard, jackal and baboons’ live side by side as their sagas collide.”

Week of Aug. 6, 2023

Untold: Johnny Football (Netflix, Aug. 8). Johnny “Manziel – along with his family, coaches, his former best friend, and his agent – details what happened behind the scenes as scandals piled up in the glare of paparazzi flashbulbs. He fumbled his shot at NFL success  after the Cleveland Browns picked him in the first round of the NFL draft in 2014, but Manziel went on to search for  something even greater: inner peace and happiness with a quieter life that he reveals here.”

Destination NBA: A G League Odyssey (Amazon Prime Video, Aug. 8). “follows some of the most intriguing prospects in the NBA’s developmental league, the NBA G League, as they compete to earn the ultimate reward of an NBA roster spot”

Frontline: Inside the Iranian Uprising (PBS, Tuesday, Aug. 8, at 10). “features the harrowing stories of protestors, some of whom are still in the country and are speaking out despite the risks, and it sheds new light on the lengths to which the regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has gone to put down the uprising”

Ladies First: A Story of Women in Hip-Hop (Netflix, Aug. 9). “recontextualizes the irrepressible women of hip hop and their role in the genre’s 50 years by reinserting them into the canon where they belong: at the center, from day one to present day”

Temptation Island: Secrets Revealed (Peacock, Aug. 10, then on USA Network Wednesday, Aug. 16, at 9). “Host Mark L. Walberg will bring fans behind the scenes of Temptation Island’s juicy fifth season in a one-hour special featuring never-before-seen footage from cast bonfires, bloopers and much more.”

All Up in the Biz (Showtime, Friday, Aug. 11, at 9). “the definitive story of late, great rapper Biz Markie, who is best known for his mega hit ‘Just a Friend.’ Featuring never before seen footage, musical interludes, animation, puppetry, and interviews with Biz Markie and other prominent figures in hip hop – from Fat Joe to Nick Cannon to Tracy Morgan – All Up In the Biz is a heartwarming portrait of how one underdog’s dreams – fortified by an unwavering determination and a wicked sense of humor – would  come true inside the world of hip hop and far beyond”

Beyond the Headlines: The Elizabeth Thomas Story with Elizabeth Smart (Lifetime, Saturday, Aug. 12, at 10). “In the one-hour special executive produced by Elizabeth Smart, Elizabeth Thomas sits down for her first interview in five years, providing intimate and revealing details about her ordeal which has been extremely isolating and confusing. The topic of grooming continues to be widely misunderstood and Elizabeth Thomas’ revelations provide rare insight into the experience of survivors. Elizabeth Smart, who intimately understands the personal trauma and fallout experienced by survivors travels to Tennessee to meet Elizabeth Thomas, hear her story and share their common experiences.”

Week of Aug. 13, 2023

Untold: Hall of Shame (Netflix, Aug. 15). “Victor Conte’s name is synonymous with the biggest doping scandal ever to rock the sports community, ensnaring top athletes such as baseball great Barry Bonds and track-and-field legends Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery. For 16 years, Conte swears BALCO Laboratories, his supplement and nutrition company based in the Bay Area, never dabbled in illegal, performance-enhancing drugs. But by 2000, he went to the dark side and became the go-to guy for athletes in search of steroids, fame, and world records.”

Reinventing Elvis: The ’68 Comeback (Paramount+, Aug. 15). “When it aired on the night of Dec. 3, 1968, the special became the most-watched television event of the year, and nearly half of the entire TV-watching audience tuned in to see Elvis Presley, clad in an iconic black leather suit, deliver some of the greatest performances of his life, reinvigorating his career and changing the pop-culture landscape forever.” The special “features interviews with Elvis experts and recollections from those who attended the special in-person, as well as all-new versions of iconic Elvis hits interpreted by contemporary musicians”

Depp V Heard (Netflix, Aug. 16). “Showing both testimonies side-by-side for the first time, this series explores this global media event, questioning the nature of truth and the role it plays in our modern society”

Every Body (Peacock, Aug. 18). “tells the stories of three intersex individuals who have moved from childhoods marked by shame, secrecy, and non-consensual surgeries to thriving adulthoods. Actor and screenwriter River Gallo (they/them), political consultant Alicia Roth Weigel (she/they), and Ph.D. student Sean Saifa Wall (he/him) are now leaders in a fast-growing global movement advocating for greater understanding of the intersex community and an end to unnecessary surgeries”

Week of Aug. 20, 2023

761st Tank Battalion: The Original Black Panthers (History Channel, Sunday, Aug. 20, at 8). “the powerful documentary will tell the true story of the 761st Tank Battalion, the first Black tank unit to serve in combat during WWII, and explore in-depth the major battles they faced both overseas while in combat and back home in the United States”

Secrets of Prince Andrew (A&E, Monday, August 21 at 8). “tells the inside story of Andrew’s scandal-plagued life, including the disastrous BBC Newsnight interview in November 2019 that shook the monarchy to its core. This definitive Prince Andrew biography features the twists and turns of Palace intrigue, secret conversations, and looks at the Queen’s involvement in the repercussions following the BBC Newsnight revelations. With exclusive interviews and unprecedented access, the program provides a unique perspective on the Prince’s life, offering an in-depth look at the chain of events that led to his downfall” 

Untold: Swamp Kings (Netflix, Aug. 22). “After a blazing run in the 1990s under Coach Steve Spurrier, the University of Florida’s winning streak had dried up by 2005. Enter Urban Meyer, the Gators’ demanding new head coach whose take-no-prisoners style breeds not only a string of legendary victories, but also unrelenting drama that rippled well beyond the locker room. In their own words through extensive sit-down interviews paired with archival footage, Meyer and the titans he coached (Brandon Siler, Tim Tebow, Brandon Spikes, Major Wright, and Ahmad Black, among many others) give viewers a bird’s-eye view of how they catapulted the Florida Gators from underdogs to winners of two BCS National Championships.”

BS High (Max, Aug. 23). “explores the lucrative and cut-throat world of football prep programs, where careers and reputations can be made and the dreams and well being of young athletes hang in the balance. When a nationally televised high school football game between top-ranked IMG Academy and unknown Bishop Sycamore High School ended with multiple injuries on the field and a 58-0 blowout win for IMG Academy, the fiasco caused fans and audiences to question the legitimacy of the Bishop Sycamore program and its head coach, Roy Johnson. The film is a revealing exploration of one of the most intriguing sagas to cross the world of sports in years.”

Trap Jazz (Hulu, Aug. 23). “Chris Moten, Cassius Jay, and Devon ‘Stixx’ Taylor are three best friends from Atlanta that share one incredible gift — they are all classically trained jazz players working with some of the world’s top Trap and Hip Hop artists. Each of them feels that Jazz is slowly losing its ‘identity’ and their mission is to bring it back to the mainstream through the musical vehicle of Trap”

Endless Summer Vacation: Continued (Backyard Sessions) (ABC, Thursday, Aug. 24, at 10; Hulu, Aug. 25). Miley Cyrus “shares stories and insights from the many chapters of her life … Reimagined from the version which originally aired on Disney+, the special now features a brand-new interview as well as music from her latest release ‘Endless Summer Vacation,’ including her hit single ‘Flowers,’ plus one of her chart-topping classic hits.”

Explorer: Lost in the Arctic (NatGeo, Thursday, Aug. 24, at 10; Disney+, Aug. 25). “Sir John Franklin set off from England in 1845 with two ships and 129 men to be the first to navigate the Northwest Passage, a new trade route over the top of the world. Franklin’s ships vanished without a trace. Now, a team of explorers attempts to solve the mystery by retracing Franklin’s route in search of his long-lost tomb”

Wanted: The Escape Of Carlos Ghosn (Apple TV+, Aug. 25). “the riveting story of CEO-turned-fugitive Carlos Ghosn and his relentless climb to the top of the corporate ladder, shocking arrest, and unbelievable escape that stunned the world”

Week of Aug. 27, 2023

Attenborough: Behind the Lens (BBC America, Saturday, Aug. 26, at 8). “With the culmination of his epic series about the planet, the world expected Sir David Attenborough to call an end to his extraordinary 65 career, but the lure of innovative technology led him to the most prolific period of his career; with classic clips, new footage and interviews, the documentary looks at the man behind the screen, and reveals Sir David Attenborough as he has never been seen before.”

Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones (Netflix, Aug. 30). “Travel around the world with author Dan Buettner to discover five unique communities where people live extraordinarily long and vibrant lives”

The Price Is Right: A Tribute to Bob Barker (CBS, Thursday, Aug. 31, at 8). “Drew Carey, who succeeded Bob Barker as The Price is Right host—and is a longtime fan and friend of Barker’s—celebrates Barker’s life and legacy as host of the tribute”

For premieres on and after Sept. 1, 2023, see the fall 2023 documentary schedule

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

Discussion: your turn

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Happy discussing!


Friday 2nd of June 2023

Since her very recent death, just want to recommend “Tina” on HBO. Also, a new one about Mary Tyler Moore as well.


Friday 2nd of June 2023

This list and the one you compiled for reality TV were invaluable to me. I've discovered new shows I'm anxious to see and made a note as to when my old favorites are coming back. Thank you.

Bad Mitten

Friday 2nd of June 2023

Is Holey Moley coming back for a season 5? That image had me thinking there might be an announcement :(

Andy Dehnart

Sunday 4th of June 2023

I've been trying to get official word; no luck so far. They did cast for season five last year, and it seemed like they might be filming in Australia on the set built there, yet no word in about a year isn't a great sign.