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AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Announces Winter-Spring Season on PBS

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Announces Winter-Spring Season on PBS

The series will return in January 2023.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE returns in January 2023 with a new season of documentaries that explore diverse facets of modern American history through the stories of a unique group of writers, inventors, innovators and iconoclasts.

"This season - our 35th - features a great crop of documentaries that range from deep and heady to light and fun to provocative and surprising. As always, all are smart and as timely as ever," said Cameo George, Executive Producer of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.

"We have fresh takes on some known people, like the Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston, who hasn't gotten her due as an equally groundbreaking anthropologist. And we will introduce you to others, like the cross-dressing men and transgender women of Casa Susanna, who were forced to live their lives in secret. Other films on our exciting slate explore the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction invention of the polygraph machine; the life of a bold and unsung woman who was a pioneer in the field of solar energy; and the twisted story behind the creation of Monopoly, America's favorite board game. Each film reveals something powerful about our shared American experience."

In addition to its broadcast and streaming premieres, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE will continue its series of monthly online events, Past Forward: Conversations with American Experience, in 2023. These events feature discussions with historians, authors and journalists and explore film-inspired themes and issues each month through the lens of the present.

Below is more information on the 2023 Winter-Spring schedule. Fall titles will be announced at a later date.

The Lie Detector - Tuesday, January 3, 9-10 p.m. ET

In the 1920s, as law enforcement began to develop more scientific methods, researchers claimed they could tell whether someone was lying by using a machine called the polygraph. Popularly known as the "lie detector," the device transformed police work, seized headlines and was extolled in movies, TV and comics as an infallible crime-fighting tool. Husbands and wives tested each other's fidelity.

Corporations tested employees' honesty and government workers were tested for loyalty and "morals." But the promise of the polygraph turned dark, and the lie detector became an apparatus to frighten and intimidate millions of Americans. Directed by Rob Rapley, the film is a tale of good intentions, twisted morals and unintended consequences.

Zora Neale Hurston: Claiming a Space - Tues., January 17, 9-11 p.m. ET

Directed by Tracy Heather Strain and produced by Randall MacLowry, this new biography explores the life of the influential author whose groundbreaking anthropological work would challenge assumptions about race, gender and cultural superiority that had long defined the field in the 19th century. Best remembered for her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston was a key figure of the Harlem Renaissance. But even as she gained renown as a writer, she pursued anthropological studies at Barnard College, becoming the college's first Black female graduate.

Throughout her career, she struggled for recognition in two worlds - literary and scientific - writing novels and collecting folklore, drawing on her ethnographic expertise to inform her artistry. Through her trailblazing work, Hurston would reclaim, honor and celebrate Black life on its own terms - an idea that remains radical today.

Ruthless: Monopoly's Secret History ­- Monday, February 20, 9-10 p.m. ET

For generations, Monopoly has been America's favorite board game, a love letter to unbridled capitalism and - for better or worse - the impulses that make our free-market society tick. But behind the myth of the game's creation is an untold tale of theft, obsession and corporate double-dealing.

Part detective story, part sharp social commentary and part pop-culture celebration, Ruthless: Monopoly's Secret History presents the fascinating true story of the game and those who created it. Directed by Stephen Ives.

The Sun Queen - Tuesday, April 4, 9-10 p.m. ET

For nearly 50 years, biophysicist and inventor Mária Telkes applied her prodigious intellect to harnessing the sun's power. She designed and built the first successfully solar-powered house in 1949 but was perplexed by the knotty scientific challenge of developing a reliable and economical way to store captured solar energy.

She was also beset by rampant sexism and fought pitched battles with her boss and colleagues - all men - at MIT's Solar Energy Fund. Despite these obstacles, Telkes persevered, helping to build another experimental solar-powered house in 1971. Upon her death in 1995, she held more than 20 patents. The Sun Queen is directed by Amanda Pollak and Gene Tempest.

Casa Susanna - Tuesday, June 27, 9-10 p.m. ET

In the 1950s and 60s, an underground network of transgender women and cross-dressing men found refuge at a modest house in the Catskills region of New York. Known as Casa Susanna, the house provided a safe place to express their true selves and live for a few days as they had always dreamed - dressed as women without fear of being incarcerated or institutionalized for their self-expression.

Told through the memories of those whose visits to the house would change their lives, the film provides a moving look back at a secret world where the persecuted and frightened found freedom, acceptance and, often, the courage to live their lives out of the shadows.

A co-production with ARTE, Casa Susanna is directed by critically acclaimed French filmmaker Sébastien Lifsz (Wild Side, Little Girl, Bambi). The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2022 and won the Grand Jury Prize at DOC NYC in November 2022.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE films will stream simultaneously with broadcast and be available on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. All titles will also be available for streaming with closed captioning in English and Spanish.

About AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

For 35 years, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE has been television's most-watched history series, bringing to life the incredible characters and epic stories that have shaped America's past and present. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentaries have been honored with every major broadcast award, including 30 Emmy Awards, four duPont-Columbia Awards and 19 George Foster Peabody Awards.

PBS's signature history series also creates original digital content that innovates new forms of storytelling to connect our collective past with the present. Cameo George is the series executive producer. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is produced for PBS by GBH Boston.

Major funding for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance and by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Additional funding provided by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, The Documentary Investment Group, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers.

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