HBO documentaries keep us up at night, captivate our imaginations, and make us ask the big questions about what it means to be human. On HBO Docs Club, hosts Brittany Luse (For Colored Nerds) and Ronald Young, Jr. (Solvable) pull back the curtain on a wide variety of HBO Documentary Titles. Through in-depth conversations and interviews with filmmakers and experts, Brittany and Ronald unpack these stories with new context, exploring what they can teach us about the past, find out where these stories stand in the present, and how they may impact our future.
38:21The Apollo is a documentary that explores the historical and cultural significance of Harlem’s landmark theater of the same name. Brittany and Ronald unpack some of the most memorable performances highlighted in the film and discuss the role the Apollo has played in Black culture writ large. They also have an engaging conversation with the film’s director, Roger Ross Williams, and Kamilah Forbes the Apollo Theater’s creative head who directed the stage production of Ta-Nehisi Coates' “Between the World and Me” and is featured in the documentary.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
George Carlin’s American Dream
39:39George Carlin’s American dream is a two-part documentary that follows the life and work of legendary comic George Carlin, dubbed the “dean of counterculture comedians.” Brittany and Ronald talk with co-directors Judd Apatow and Mike Bonfiglio about Carlin’s trajectory from variety show schtick, to incisive social commentator, to nihilistic comic. They unpack why his brand of humor still resonates today and how his bits, like “Seven Dirty Words You Can Never Say on Television,” opened up the world to so many future comics. Brittany and Ronald look at Carlin’s impact on comedy specials and how Jerrod Carmichael and others still take inspiration from him todaySee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
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The Lady and the Dale
46:30The Lady and The Dale is a docuseries about the trans woman who tried to revolutionize the auto industry with a three-wheeled car at the height of the 1970’s gas crisis. Brittany and Ronald discuss the life and story of Liz Carmichael, and how the haunting legacy of transphobia muddied the waters of her fraud trial. The Lady And The Dale co-director Zackary Drucker and historian Susan Stryker join Brittany and Ronald to talk about telling the story of this complicated woman and what the spirit of Liz Carmichael’s past might be trying to tell us today.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Mommy Dead and Dearest
47:40Mommy Dead and Dearest is the 2017 documentary about the toxic dynamic between Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard that ended in murder. In this episode, hosts Brittany and Ronald discuss the provocative documentary that began with a murder and uncovered a lifetime of deception, mental illness, and child abuse. Brittany and Ronald interview director Erin Lee Carr about the making of the film and where Gypsy Rose is today. They also talk with medical child abuse expert Dr. Mary Sanders about the psychology behind Munchhausen by proxy syndrome, and how it affected the dynamic in the Blanchard home.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The Invisible Pilot
51:20In this episode, hosts Brittany and Ronald discuss The Invisible Pilot, a three-part docuseries that begins with a mysterious disappearance and dark family secrets, and ends up inside one of the biggest political scandals of our time: The Iran Contra Affair. After a conversation about the questionable morals of the crop-dusting, drug-running pilot at the center of the series and what his story says about America, Brittany and Ronald interview director Phil Lott and executive producer Todd Schulman about the process of making the series. They also talk to journalist and podcast host Leon Neyfakh (Fiasco, Slow Burn) about the lasting impact of the Iran Contra Affair. The Invisible Pilot premiered on April 4th, 2022 on HBO. This episode contains audio courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
How To Survive a Pandemic
49:30How to Survive a Pandemic documents the global response to the Covid-19 outbreak and the race for a vaccine. In this episode, Brittany and Ronald unpack the unique experience of watching a film about an issue that has consumed our lives since March 2020. They talk with the documentary’s director David France (How to Survive a Plague) about making a film about a pandemic during a pandemic (which he’s done twice). They also interview one of the most compelling people in the movie – pastor and activist Paul Abernathy – who uses his faith and community volunteers to combat misinformation in his Pittsburgh community. How To Survive a Pandemic premiered on March 29th, 2022 on HBO. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Atlanta Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children
51:55HBO Docs Club’s first episode dives into the critically acclaimed five-part docuseries Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children, chronicling the Atlanta Child Murders, which occurred between 1979 and 1981, when at least 30 African-American children and young adults disappeared or were murdered in Atlanta. Hosts Brittany Luse and Ronald Young Jr. interview director Sam Pollard about his filmmaking philosophy, discussing deeply traumatic experiences with subjects, and the impact of the film after its release. They also speak with author and professor Tayari Jones about growing up as a child in Atlanta during the time of these murders, and the way those sinister events linger in the lives of those who were affected.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Introducing HBO Docs Club
2:44Political scandals, psychological thrillers, family secrets. Big cultural moments and public figures who live forever in our imagination. Hosted by Brittany Luse (For Colored Nerds) and Ronald Young Jr. (Solvable), HBO Docs club will pull back the curtain on a different documentary film or series each episode — think DVD bonus features, but with a 2022 podcast twist, and with expert cultural critics as your guides. Get comfy, dim the lights and get ready to learn that sometimes true life is even stranger than fiction.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.