Even though the bulk of the content seems to be at HBO Max right now, we still hold out for the works that are featured in its HBO Hub – those entertainment choices that can be found also on the HBO site and on HBO’s channels. HBO changed the day AT&T created WarnerMedia and HBO Max, and further changes will occur with the merger of WarnerMedia & Discovery Networks. But we still eagerly await the content that has stood for high quality since the 1970s, the quality that has an H, B, and O attached. Here is a sampling of what is on for September 2021.
A few quick points:
J. Chastain & O. Issacs will Capture Our Attention
Since we’re dropping names – C. Eastwood and James Wan Horror Also Arrive
New Saturday Night Movies like NEWS OF THE WORLD
Finales from HARD KNOCKS and HARD
And New Cartoon Programming on HBO Max
Original Series: One big, though limited, series arrives on HBO in September. It is the solid adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE. From Hagai Levi (HBO’s IN TREATMENT and OUR BOYS), this five-part limited series will debut SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 12 (9:00-10:00pm). This modern take on Bergman’s classic Swedish series stars Oscar Isaac, of HBO’s SHOW ME A HERO, and Jessica Chastain, Academy Award nominee for Zero Dark Thirty.
A captivating re-examination of the dilemmas probed by the original, the five-episode limited series explores love, hatred, desire, monogamy, marriage, and divorce through the lens of a contemporary American couple. Mira (Jessica Chastain) is a confident, ambitious tech executive left unfulfilled by her marriage, and Jonathan (Oscar Isaac) is a cerebral and accommodating philosophy professor desperate to keep their relationship intact. Throughout, the series mines the full complexity of Jonathan and Mira as individuals who ultimately know their marriage isn’t being torn apart by any one event or flaw, resulting in a radically honest series that allows the audience to eavesdrop on private conversations between two people torn between feelings of hate and love.
–Episode 1 “Innocence and Panic” Debut Date: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)
After a tense day of reflection and disclosure, Mira (Jessica Chastain) and her husband Jonathan (Oscar Isaac) navigate the consequences of unexpected news. Teleplay by Hagai Levi and Amy Herzog and Directed by Hagai Levi
When Mira (Jessica Chastain) returns from a business trip with a crushing revelation, she and Jonathan (Oscar Isaac) struggle to process the complicated aftershock. Teleplay by and Directed by Hagai Levi
–Episode 3 “The Vale of Tears” Debut Date: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Jonathan (Oscar Isaac) and Mira (Jessica Chastain) share all that they’ve learned since separating, rekindling old connections at the risk of exacerbating dormant wounds. Teleplay by and Directed by Hagai Levi
Our next series is international fare that technically debuted on August 30, but was announced well after our “What’s On” post for that month. It is LAETITIA. HBO has acquired the North American television and streaming rights to the six-episode French limited drama series from France tv distribution and Academy Award-winning director of Murder on a Sunday Morning, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade. The first French series ever to be selected for the Sundance Film Festival in 2019, the limited series debuts MONDAY, AUGUST 30 (10:00-10:50pm) on HBO.
Based on true events, LAETITIA chronicles the disappearance of a teenage girl in western France. Left to reconstruct the teenager’s final hours for answers, investigators (led by Yannick Choirat) begin to uncover deeply troubling details of Laetitia’s (Sophie Breyer) and her twin sister Jessica’s (Marie Colomb) upbringing. As they search to uncover the details behind her final days, this highly polarizing case casts a sharp eye on France’s legal system, police force, social services and how a single act of violence can impact an entire country.
–Episode 1 Debut date: FRIDAY, AUGUST 30 (10:00-10:50 p.m. ET/PT)
2011. After 18-year-old Laetitia’s (Sophie Breyer) family discovers her abandoned scooter, detectives launch an exhaustive search. While local repeat offender Tony Meilhon (Noam Morgensztern) quickly emerges as the prime suspect, he stonewalls the investigation, forcing the police to refocus their efforts on reconstructing Laetitia’s final moments. Back in 1995, the twins’ home life deteriorates. Written by Antoine Lacomblez & Jean-Xavier de Lestrade; Directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
Debut date: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 (10:00-10:50 p.m. ET/PT)
With Meilhon in temporary custody, the detectives intensify their efforts to keep him behind bars permanently, questioning those closest to Laetitia (Sophie Breyer) about her recent state of mind – including her devastated twin sister Jessica (Marie Colomb). In 1996, the twins begin a harrowing journey of displacement after their mother checks herself into a clinic. Written by Antoine Lacomblez & Jean-Xavier de Lestrade; Directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
–Episode 3 Debut date: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 (10:00-10:50 p.m. ET/PT)
As the days continue to pass without any sign of Laetitia (Sophie Breyer), Jessica (Marie Colomb) grows increasingly distraught – prompting Detective Touchais (Yannick Choirat) to throw himself deeper into the victim’s habits. Meanwhile, Laetitia’s case catches the attention of the president, and later, both the twins’ and Meilhon’s (Noam Morgensztern) volatile childhoods are explored. Written by Antoine Lacomblez & Jean-Xavier de Lestrade; Directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
–Episode 4 Debut date: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 (10:00-10:45 p.m. ET/PT)
After a partial break in the case, the highly troubling pathology report drives an irreparable wedge in public opinion of the legal system. Now facing increased pressure to solve the case, Detective Touchais (Yannick Choirat) leans on Béatrice Prieur (Alix Poisson), the twins’ longtime social worker, for more information about their past. In 2005, Laetitia (Sophie Breyer) and Jessica (Marie Colomb) meet the Patrons (Sam Karmann & Clotilde Mollet). Written by Antoine Lacomblez & Jean-Xavier de Lestrade; Directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
–Episode 5 Debut date: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 (10:00-10:50 p.m. ET/PT)
After Jessica (Marie Colomb) reveals a memory about her sister (Sophie Breyer) and Meilhon (Noam Morgensztern) suddenly starts talking, Touchais (Yannick Choirat) scrambles to fill in the outstanding gaps. As crucial pieces of Laetitia’s case begin to take shape, disturbing details come to light about someone close to the teenagers. Written by Antoine Lacomblez & Jean-Xavier de Lestrade; Directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER does its thing in September but only after Labor Day weekend. It continues FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 10 (10:00-11:00pm live ET/tape-delayed PT), with a replay at 12:30am with installment # 576. Maher gives us his usual format with one big change – he’s now sporting glasses. Lately the show has had people such as Martin Short, Steve Martin on and talked about such issues as the California recall Vote and the New York governorship. LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER returns after the holiday as well. Oliver gives us his usual format with one big change – he is now back in the studio having left the ‘white void.’ His show arrives SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 (11:00-11:30pm ET). The show has covered such hot topics as the USA’s departure for Afghanistan, the increase of ransomware attacks and the Delta variant.
All right, all right, some humor then. Note, none of the serious questions here get answered.
Originals Exclusive to HBO Max: The biggest series arrival is the return of these oddballs.
We are talkingDOOM PATROL Season Three. It uploads to HBO Max on THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23. This series has reimagined one of DC’s most beloved groups of superheroes: Robotman aka Cliff Steele (Brendan Fraser), Negative Man aka Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer), Elasti-Woman aka Rita Farr (April Bowlby) and Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), all led by modern-day mad scientist Niles Caulder aka The Chief (Timothy Dalton). Each member of the Doom Patrol suffered a horrible accident that gave them superhuman abilities but also left them scarred and disfigured. Part support group, part Super Hero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of superpowered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them. Season three opens on the culmination of Dorothy’s (Abi Monterey) confrontation with the Candlemaker that leads to a devastating loss. The Doom Patrol is at a difficult crossroads and each member struggles to face who they are and who they want to be. And things get a whole lot more complicated when Madame Rouge (Michelle Gomez) arrives in a time machine with a very specific mission if only she could remember it. They are not the only superhero bunch. We told you last month that TITANS was continuing. It does sure with new episodes uploading every Thursday this month.
Winding down in September is SWEET LIFE: LOS ANGELES. Its finale appears on THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 02, but if that wasn’t enough seek out theSWEET LIFE: LOS ANGELES REUNION SPECIAL on THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 09. The critically acclaimed comedy series THE OTHER TWO, starring Heléne Yorke, Drew Tarver, and Ken Marino uploads THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23. It’s not too late to get into Sweet Life –
HBO Saturday Night Movies: Three new movies pop up on three out of the four Saturday nights in September; SEPTEMBER 11 is the night skipped. The trio we single out are the Oscar-nominated News of the World, the return of Mortal Kombat and one Promising Young Woman. Here is a look at each.
We start with NEWS OF THE WORLD, debuting SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 04 (8:00-10:00pm). Five years after the end of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks), a veteran of three wars, now moves from town to town as a non-fiction storyteller, sharing the news of presidents and queens, glorious feuds, devastating catastrophes, and gripping adventures from the far reaches of the globe. On the plains of Texas, he crosses paths with Johanna (Helena Zengel), a 10-year-old taken in by the Kiowa people six years earlier and raised as one of their own. Johanna, hostile to a world she’s never experienced, is being returned to her biological aunt and uncle against her will. Kidd agrees to deliver the child where the law says she belongs. As they travel hundreds of miles into the unforgiving wilderness, the two will face tremendous challenges of both human and natural forces as they search for a place that either can call home.
We skip the week of 09.11, making out next debut on SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 (8:00-9:50pm). The movie is MORTAL KOMBAT, the 2021 film that already appeared on HBO Max earlier this year as part of the Same-Day Premieres in cinemas. MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan), accustomed to taking a beating for money, is unaware of his heritage-or why Outworld’s Emperor Shang Tsung (Chin Han) has sent his best warrior, Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim), an otherworldly Cryomancer, to hunt Cole down. Fearing for his family’s safety, Cole goes in search of Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) at the direction of Jax (Mehcad Brooks), a Special Forces Major who bears the same strange dragon marking Cole was born with. Soon, he finds himself at the temple of Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), an Elder God and the protector of Earthrealm, who grants sanctuary to those who bear the mark. Here, Cole trains with experienced warriors Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Kung Lao (Max Huang) and rogue mercenary Kano (Josh Lawson), as he prepares to stand with Earth’s greatest champions against the enemies of Outworld. Carey Mulligan takes the lead the last Saturday night. She stars in PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN. Pushing thirty, and defined by a hideous crime involving her bosom friend, Nina, emotionally scarred medical school dropout, Cassie, knows firsthand that some wounds never heal but, Cassie has found the perfect way to deal with the painful past. Dressed to kill, at night, Cassie frequents the local bars and nightclubs, pretending to be dead-drunk, utterly helpless and vulnerable. And, every week, lethally beautiful Cassie is on the prowl for all sorts of nocturnal predators and other wolves in sheep’s clothing, who are unaware that, sometimes, the hunter can become the prey. It debuts SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 (8:00-10:00pm)
Movies Exclusive to HBO Max: I can say the same thing I said here last month – not one, but two big Same-Day Premieres launch in cinemas and on HBO Max in September. The first big date to remember is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 10 when the latest from horror auteur James Wan uploads to the service and hits cinemas. It is called MALIGNANT. The official word offers up very little plot detail; I guess they trust people will seek out James Wan of The Conjuring fame no matter what. The film’s site simply states – “Madison is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities.” Is anyone interested in this new original horror thriller? If not, just wait a week. The other movie drops just one week later on FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 and this one hails from Clint Eastwood. Based on the book of the same name, CRY MACHO stars Mr. Eastwood as a one-time rodeo star and washed-up horse breeder who, in 1978, takes a job from an ex-boss to bring the man’s young son home and away from his alcoholic mom. Crossing rural Mexico on their way back to Texas, the unlikely pair faces an unexpectedly challenging journey, during which the world-weary horseman may find his own sense of redemption through teaching the boy what it means to be a good man.
HBO Documentary Films: First off, bumping a movie out of a Saturday primetime spot is the finale of a Spike Lee project. NYC EPICENTERS 9/11→2021½, which was forced to do a last-minute edit, takes the slot SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 (8:00-10:00pm). On SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 (10:00-11:00pm) the first of three installments of NUCLEAR FAMILY debuts. The work, which will air subsequent Sundays at the same time, follows filmmaker Ry Russo-Young as she turns the camera on her own past to explore the meaning of family. In the late 70s/early 80s, when the concept of a gay family was inconceivable to most, Ry and her sister Cade were born to two lesbian mothers through sperm donors (all pictured at right). Ry’s idyllic childhood was threatened by an unexpected lawsuit that sent shockwaves through her family’s lives and continues to reverberate today. An exploration of love, loyalty, loss and the immutable power of family in all its configurations, the series eloquently examines the dynamics that enrich and complicate the bonds of love.
HBO MAX Original Documentary: The streaming service has a multi-part documentary of its own in September. It is called THE WAY DOWN. This five-part documentary series explores the Tennessee-based Remnant Fellowship Church and its charismatic leader Gwen Shamblin Lara (pictured), author and founder of the Christian weight loss program “The Weigh Down Workshop.” The series explores Lara’s rise to fame and power as a diet guru and church leader, revealing the surprising truth behind her carefully curated image and detailing the controversial practices of the church, including stories of abuse and exploitation as told by former members and others who were personally impacted. Gwen Shamblin Lara recently died in a plane crash along with six other church leaders, including her actor husband, Joe Lara. The first three episodes upload THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30.
HBO MAX Original Special: Last month it was Marlon Wayans, this month it is Ahir Shah. Who, you ask? In his first-ever stand-up comedy special, double Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Ahir Shah discusses culture, politics, cigarettes, depression, adulthood, funerals, religion, children, love, and dead German sociologists. It is considerably funnier than it sounds. Featuring Shah’s signature blend of philosophical inquiry, personal examination, and sweet gags, Dots is his critically acclaimed stand-up show about the necessity, utility, and absence of certainty. It is AHIR SHAH: DOTS, uploading THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23. Though I can’t find an official trailer for this 2019 tour, filmed in London for HBO Max, here is a glimpse at his method.
HBO Kids & Family: There is plenty for the kids this month as HBO Max has created a whole lineup of preschooler’s fare. It is all bundled under programming called CARTOONITO. On HBO Max, Cartoonito programming will be presented as a dedicated page featuring a collection of new preschool shows and old staples.
Uploading MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13is LITTLE ELLEN. It is a brand new 2D animated children’s show that explores the world through the eyes of a hilarious and unpredictable seven-year-old Ellen DeGeneres. On her adventures in her musical hometown of New Orleans, Little Ellen takes big risks and makes big mistakes, but she’s always able to laugh at herself and bounce back when things don’t go as planned. Added onTHURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30is YABBA DABBA DINOSAURSfeaturing critters from the classic town of Bedrock. The new season of THE NOT-TOO-LATE SHOW WITH ELMO premieres that same day and will expand on the last season, promising even more excitement and interactive games, and a whole new look! Decked out in his suit and tie, Elmo returns as the furry red “host with the most,” with Cookie Monster as his cohost and the rest of the Sesame Street Muppets pitching in as cast and crew. Library shows will also join the lineup on HBO Max and include: CARE BEARS: UNLOCK THE MAGIC(Season one),ESME & ROY (Seasons one and two), LOVE MONSTER(Seasons one and two), MO WILLEMS STORYTIME SHORTS! and SESAME STREET. They are mixed in with the return of BEN 10 (Season 4C), TIG N’ SEEK (Season 3 uploading 09.16), APPLE & ONION (Season 2B), TOTAL DRAMARAMA and TEN-YEAR-OLD TOM.
In other family fare seek out ADVENTURE TIME: DISTANT LANDS – WIZARD CITY uploading on THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 02.
HBO Sports: REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL offers another installment on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 (10:00-11:00pm) & BACK ON THE RECORD WITH BOB COSTAS still has a fresh one that just debuted on FRIDAY, AUGUST 27. This last time around Gumbel & Co talked about the booming industry of sports card trading, allegations of rampant sexual abuse within the glitzy world of All-Star cheerleading and the art of jiu-jitsu in police training. Costas has on Bille Jean King, John McEnroe and Payton Manning. HARD KNOCKS: DALLAS COWBOYSconcludes its season on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 07 (10:00-11:00pm).
HBO Latino:We will discover two movies and two series on HBO Latino. Debuting FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 03 (8:00-9:40pm) is our first movie. It is called AMARAICAabout an undocumented immigrant’s effort to become a U.S. citizen, but whose fate is put on hold by the government’s ”zero tolerance” child separation border policy. The dreams of five strangers traveling to Puerto Rico are put on hold when they are confined by a different set of immigration authorities in EL CAURTITO appearing on FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 (8:00-9:40pm). In series, we have HUESPED AMERICANO (The American Guest) beginning MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 (8:00-9:00pm) followed by the other series, ENTRE HOMBRES (Amongst Men), on SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 (10:00-11:00pm). The first one follows the journey of former U.S. president Teddy Roosevelt, played by Aidan Quinn, alongside Brazilian army officer Cândido Rondon, portrayed by Chico Diaz, in a quest to explore unknown regions and come face to face with indigenous inhabitants of the Brazilian Amazon. The second title, set in 1990s Buenos Aires, follows a federal judge, a senator, and an executive after a crazy stag party that was secretly recorded–as well as the police officers who are in charge of recovering the video. Based on the book of the same name, the show combines crime, drama, and black comedy within a sordid world of sex, drugs, prostitution and corruption. The one I feature below holds my interest.
Other Movies & Shows:So, as not to get lost in the shuffle, the following short films are grouped here. The winners of the annual Asian Pacific American Visionaries short films have been chosen and get screen time this fall. Beginning on MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 on HBO 2 you can findUNMOTHERED, LITTLE SKY andNEH. The first one is about an American woman who discovers a serious secret about her funny family when she returns to India; the next one gives us a Chinese American drag sensation named Sky who returns home to confront an estranged father; the last one shows a young Korean-American man’s effort to impress a date by pretending to speak fluent Korean. They are each 15 minutes long. For full-length movies, don’t go anywhere because HBO has them also. Included on HBO are such titles as ARMY IF DARKNESS, BENCHWARMERS, CLOVERFIELD, THE GOOD GERMAN, MY GOLDEN DAYS and VIEW FROM THE TOP, just to name a few. HBO Max has its own set of titles that include MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, ON THE TOWN, LIBERTY KID, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, THE PEOPLE V THE KLAN and NASCITURUS.
Uploading to HBO MAX is also a few series. They are ELLIOT FROM EARTH (Season One), WALKER (Season One – not the Chuck Norris one but the Jared Padelecki version) and SUPERMAN & LOIS (Season One).
Next Month’s Tease: Are you ready for Tom Wambsgans, Leon Black, Taurean Jackson and D.J. Pierce?
Last month’s answer – Johan and Marianne of Scener ur ett äktenskap are the main characters of Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from A Marriage. As you know by now, an English version of those characters and that work are on the September slate.
Final Clip:We squeezed out a few videos from the listing above, but which one to present here on the way out? Well, here is NUCLEAR FAMILY, because we haven’t given a documentary a Final Clip in a long while.
Enjoy the month! Discover HBO.
About The Author
Editor at Large of HBOWatch.com and the internet's foremost HBO expert.