Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

You are now entering Lovecraft Country

Jurnee Smollett in Lovecraft County
Jurnee Smollett in Lovecraft County
Photo: Elizabeth Morris/HBO

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Sunday, August 16. All times are Eastern.

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Top pick

Lovecraft Country (HBO, 9 p.m., premiere): “To summarize Lovecraft Country as a whole is especially difficult. Yes, there is a through line that involves a secret cabal that underscores the entire series. But what makes this narrative work is its anthological approach to the Black experience. Multiple stories and hypothetical scenarios create a mosaic of horror that keeps the premise fresh and newly terrifying. It’s a fitting format: It’s never just one issue that plagues the Black community’s ability to exist peacefully, because racism doesn’t solely present itself in the form of Klan hoods and burning crosses (though there are instances of the latter, as well). It also comes in the form of job discrimination, basic access to decent housing, police overreach, and small country towns that convert into literal death traps for anyone with brown skin. While that reality is certainly heavy, the audience benefits with imagery that is easy enough for everyone to process—that is, grisly monsters (a visual joy, if you manage to not frightfully look away), thrilling car chases, and soul-arresting ghosts. Lovecraft Country is an utterly imaginative, wild ride, but it isn’t nearly as wild as the nonsensical bigotry that makes the series necessary.” Read the rest of Shannon Miller’s pre-air review.

Recaps from Joelle Monique will run weekly.

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Regular coverage

Wild cards

Lucy Worsley’s Royal Photo Album (PBS, 8 p.m., premiere): Historian and expert costume-wearer Worsley looks at the ways members of the British royal family have honed their public images by peering through the lens (heh) of famous photographs.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO, 11:20 p.m., 200th episode): John Oliver and company has reached a huge milestone, and while he’ll almost certainly still be appearing in his pristine white box, we’re hoping for at least a brief reprise of this gem.

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!

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