Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Wednesday, February 17. All times are Eastern.
Amend: The Fight For America (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): “What do you think about when you think of America?” asks Will Smith, the host and an executive producer of the new Netflix docuseries Amend: The Fight For America. In its six-episode journey, the series offers an answer to the question by doing an immersive deep dive into the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Amend is not a redundant history lesson, but a powerful look at the many facets of this Amendment, tracing its importance from the Emancipation Proclamation to the present day. The information presented in Amend from various experts—historians, law professors, lawyers, activists—goes beyond high school books. If anything, the excessive details in each hour-long episode might get overwhelming if binged together. But Amend breaks up its facts and figures with heartfelt stories of changemakers we don’t hear about enough, from Frederick Douglass to Thurgood Marshall, from Harriet Jacobs to Pauli Murray. A slew of celebrities somberly act as these prominent figures, offering yet another break from the routine of information and adding a tinge of pop culture. Smith hosts alongside a rotating list of guests, including co-executive producer Larry Wilmore, Randall Park, and Laverne Cox. The first half offers insight into abolition, the Civil War era, and equal protection rights for the Black community under the 14th Amendment. The next half tracks the fight for equal rights for women, the LGBTQ+ community, and immigrants. The end of the fifth episode, which centers on the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples, is particularly resonant. The power of Amend lies in how it manages to showcase these issues of the past (like the anti-Asian rhetoric of California’s gold rush, the Ku Klux Klan) that are prevalent even today. It’s a long undertaking but a worthwhile one. [Saloni Gajjar]
Riverdale (The CW, 8 p.m.)
Behind Her Eyes (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): Based on Sarah Pinborough’s 2017 novel of the same name, Behind Her Eyes is a twisted psychological thriller. But are the twists worth the time it takes to reveal them? In the London-set miniseries, single mother Louise (Simona Brown) battles night terrors and works part-time as a secretary at a clinic. She begins an affair with her new psychiatrist boss Dr. David Ferguson (Tom Bateman), while also forming a strong yet secret friendship with his wife, Adele (Eve Hewson). It’s clear right away that something is seriously off between the Fergusons, who just moved to London from Scotland. They seem unhappy and are often passive-aggressive with one another. So why in the world are they still together? Flashbacks from 10 years ago—when Adele was in a rehab facility and befriended a man named Rob (Robert Aramayo)—are sprinkled throughout the six episodes, helping fill the blanks about the mystery that binds the pair. Louise ingrains herself further in this marriage, getting caught up in their dark secret. Behind Her Eyes starts off slow, throwing in little clues and hints about what might be at play. While it saves the most shocking reveals for the last episode, leaving not much time to revel in the “a-ha” moments, the series does a decent job of mixing the crime and supernatural genres (to say more would be to spoil things). For regular viewers of such thrillers, Behind Her Eyes might not stand out, but it’s a quick and fun binge, with terrific performances from its two female leads. [Saloni Gajjar]
The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song (PBS, 9 p.m, two-hour docuseries finale): Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a PBS institution, and with this four-hour, two-part docuseries, he’s bringing “the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America, all the way down to its bedrock role as the site of African American survival and grace, organizing and resilience, thriving and testifying, autonomy and freedom, solidarity and speaking truth to power.” You can watch the first episode below.