What’s on TV Thursday: ‘The Story of Roy Cohn’ and ‘Taste the Nation’


BULLY. COWARD. VICTIM. THE STORY OF ROY COHN 9 p.m. on HBO. Directed by Ivy Meeropol, this documentary airs a day before the anniversary of the execution of her grandparents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, at Sing Sing prison for espionage in 1953. A prosecutor in their case was a young Roy Cohn, whose involvement quickly led Senator Joseph McCarthy — a staunch anti-communist Republican — to appoint Cohn to his chief counsel. There, Cohn played a major role in expelling government officials thought to be communists or gay, and shortly thereafter he became a personal lawyer to then-businessman Donald J. Trump. Though Cohn played many prominent roles, much of his personal life was veiled from public view. He was thought to be gay, despite his opposition to homosexuality, and he died from AIDS in 1986. With newly discovered material from Cohn’s career as a power broker, this film aims to expose the life and death of this menacing public figure.

THE GREAT DEBATE 11 p.m. on Syfy. Celebrity nerds like Jonah Ray, Orlando Jones, Amber Nash and Adam Savage are here to argue about pop culture’s most pressing debates in this new series, hosted by the comedian Baron Vaughn. Do you want to know the truth about zombies? Or whether Darth Vader would be a good boss? These questions — and many more — will be answered in the first season of this show, which started as a panel at last year’s New York Comic Con. Final verdicts on the debates will be reached by Vaughn and his trusty robot sidekick, DB-8.

TASTE THE NATION Stream on Hulu. “The gateway to another culture often happens first through food,” the cookbook author Padma Lakshmi says in the trailer for this new series, which she hosts and produces. In 10 episodes, Lakshmi travels from Texas to Wisconsin, South Carolina, New York City and beyond, sharing food and learning about the cultures behind it. In doing so, Lakshmi tells the stories of Native American and immigrant groups through their cuisines, showcasing the melting pot of cultures responsible for the American food landscape.

CRAWL (2019) Stream on Amazon, Hulu and Sling TV; rent on Google Play, Vudu and YouTube. At the onset of this thriller, a Category 5 hurricane is approaching Florida, mandating widespread evacuation, and Haley’s (Kaya Scodelario) estranged father, Dave (Barry Pepper), isn’t answering his phone. When Haley tries to find him, she discovers him in the crawl space of his home, unconscious and bearing a massive wound on his shoulder. It isn’t long before Haley learns what caused the wound: massive alligators brought in by rising floodwater, trapping her and Dave in his home until they can be rescued. They’re believable villains, Jeannette Catsoulis wrote in her review for The New York Times, making the film — and its protagonists’ predicament — all the more terrifying. Catsoulis added that the director, Alexandre Aja, “delivers a smoothly efficient popcorn picture.”

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