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Are you equally afraid of vampire bats, Bill O’Reilly’s loofah, and Donald Trump’s hair? Is one of your Three Wishes that Amy Grant would fall into a faith-based wormhole? This week, try something completely different: documentaries that try to make television an agency of the Enlightenment instead of a circle of hell. For instance, under Channel 13’s Independent Lens umbrella, Mirror Dance (November 15, 10:30 p.m.) goes all the way back to the National Ballet of Cuba in 1959, when Fidel Castro sundered the sisterhood of the identical-twin ballerinas Margarita and Ramona de Saá, one of whom embraced the ideology and privations of the revolution, the other of whom left for the fleshpots of North America. Or, on Sundance, a new series called Iconoclasts (starting November 17, 10 p.m.), in which celebrity admirers of celebrity visionaries spend quality time in each other’s company. Stay tuned, if not for such obvious pairings as Robert Redford with Paul Newman (December 22), then for such odd couples as Renée Zellweger and Christiane Amanpour (December 8). Meanwhile, on HBO’s America Undercover series, Gore Vidal escorts us through the ambiguities of “gender-blurring” in Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She (December 6, 9:30 p.m.). Besides chatting up biologists, anthropologists, and psychologists about the complicated family lives of intersexuals, transsexuals, and transvestites, as well as the homophobic rage of middle-American males, he also tracks down and visits with the “third sex” hijras of India, the “lady-boy” kathoey of Thailand, and same-sex senior-citizen couples in Suriname, none of whom seems to be the least bit violent.


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