A ‘Marriage’ Drama, 9/11 Remembrances, MTV’s VMAs, ‘American Rust’

America and the world will pause to remember the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, 20 years later, including on TV. Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain bring star power to HBO’s adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage. Doja Cat hosts MTV’s Video Music Awards. Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney star in Showtime’s American Rust, about a murder that rocks a dying steel town.

Scenes From a Marriage Jessica Chastain Oscar Isaac

Scenes from a Marriage

Series Premiere

SUNDAY: Unfolding like a series of one-act plays, writer-director Hagai Levi’s (In Treatment, The Affair) five-part adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s seminal 1970s miniseries dissects the dissolution of a marriage in painful, psychologically acute detail. Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain are at the soul-baring top of their game as Jonathan and Mira, who cling to each other even as they draw apart in confrontations that shift from tenderness and sorrow to sensuality, cruelty and even violent rage. It’s an acting tour-de-force in a drama that’s sometimes almost too difficult to watch. (See the full review.)

Dave Grohl

MTV Video Music Awards

SUNDAY: Doja Cat hosts the weekend’s biggest music event as the VMAs return to New York with a live show from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Among the highlights: Foo Fighters receive the inaugural US Global Icon Award and perform at the VMAs for the first time since 2007. Also making a comeback: Justin Bieber, who leads the nominations with seven, performing his first VMA set in six years. Kacey Musgraves makes her VMAs debut as part of a roster that includes Shawn Mendes, Twenty One Pilots, Chlöe, Travis Barker with Machine Gun Kelly, and Jack Harlow with Lil Nas X for their first live performance of “Industry Baby.”

American Rust - Jeff Daniels
Dennis Mong/SHOWTIME

American Rust

Series Premiere

SUNDAY: Showtime veterans Jeff Daniels (The Comey Rule) and Maura Tierney (The Affair, Your Honor) return to the network in a small-town murder drama so downbeat it makes Mare of Easttown look like a Marx Brothers comedy. Daniels is the chief of police in a dead-end Pennsylvania steel town, who becomes personally and compromised when the angsty son of his lover (Tierney) is implicated in a murder. Authentic, yes, but compelling? Remains to be seen.


9/11: Four Flights

Documentary Premiere

SATURDAY: After a day of extensive coverage of 20-year remembrances on all of the major broadcast and cable news channels, History weighs in with two powerful two-hour documentaries. In Four Flights, family and friends reflect on those who perished aboard the four hijacked airliners—American 11, United 175, American 77 and United 93. 9/11 I Was There (10/9c) is an immersive, intimate account of the tragic day as it happened, seen through video diaries of eyewitnesses who recorded events on their cameras.

More on 9/11:

  • Extra Innings from 9/11: 20 Years Later (Saturday, streaming on HBO Max): Former Yankees and Mets players and bosses are among those looking back at how baseball helped New York and the nation heal in the aftermath of the attacks.
  • Front Row to History: The 9/11 Classroom (Saturday, 7/6c and 11/10c/8 PT, CNN): CNN’s prime-time lineup of special programming begins with Victor Blackwell’s report that revisits the moment when President George W. Bush first learned of the attacks while attending a Florida classroom. Those students, now in their late 20s, their teacher and White House aides recall those events. Followed by Shine a Light (8/7c), an hourlong remembrance hosted by Jake Tapper, featuring performances by H.E.R., Brad Paisley, Common and Maroon 5. At 9/8c, CNN Films presents an encore of 9/11, the 2002 documentary from Gédéon and Jules Naudet that depicts the calamity at the World Trade Center as it happens.
  • Verdi’s Requiem: The Met Remembers 9/11 (Saturday, 8/7c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): To honor those lost on 9/11 through the arts, Great Performances and the Metropolitan Opera present a live performance of Verdi’s Requiem from the site of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Misty Copeland hosts, with conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin leading the Met orchestra, with soloists Ailyn Pérez, Michelle DeYoung, Matthew Polenzani and Eric Owens.
  • 60 Minutes (Sunday, 7:30/6:30c, 7/PT, CBS): The 54th season of TV’s most revered news magazine opens with a special hourlong report, “FDNY: 9/11,” with Scott Pelley interviewing New York City firefighters who were at Ground Zero and survived, recalling the bravery and sacrifice of their 343 colleagues lost when the buildings collapsed.

Inside Weekend TV:

  • US Open Finals (Saturday and Sunday, 4 pm/ET): In the conclusion to what has been a thrilling women’s tennis tournament, two sensation-causing teens face off Saturday in the final match, with 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada taking on Britain’s 18-year-old Emma Raducanu, the first qualifier in the Open era to make the final. The men’s final, with Novak Djokovic gunning for the Grand Slam against Daniil Medvedev, airs Sunday starting at 4 pm/ET.
  • Roadhouse Romance (Saturday, 9/8c, Hallmark Channel): The “Fall Harvest” of seasonal feel-good movies begins with a movie pairing country-music star Lauren Alaina with Tyler Hynes. She’s a military vet who comes home to learn her late grandfather’s BBQ eatery has seen better days.
  • Desert One (Sunday, 8/7c, History Channel): Oscar-winning director Barbara Koppel’s feature documentary about the ill-fated 1980 rescue attempt of the American hostages in Iran makes its TV debut.
  • America’s Longest War: What Went Wrong in Afghanistan (Sunday, 8/7c, CNN): Jake Tapper hosts a two-hour special report, debriefing U.S. veterans, generals and other officials about the two-decade engagement and the chaotic withdrawal, questioning whether it was all worth it.
  • Fantasy Island (Sunday, 8:30/7:30c, Fox): Is there a pool for everyone to fall into? We ask because this week’s Island visitors hail from that campy land of OG Melrose Place, a cast mini-reunion featuring Laura Leighton (Sydney), Josie Bissett (Jane) and Daphne Zuniga (Jo) as best buds celebrating their 50th birthdays.
  • Guilt (Sunday, 9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): In the two-hour conclusion of the darkly comic thriller about the spiraling complications from an ill-advised hit-and-run cover-up, brothers Max (Mark Bonnar) and Jake (Jamie Sives) lose trust in each other and in everyone else. Which seems appropriate, considering.
  • Chapelwaite (Sunday, 9/8c, Epix): In the creepy but slow-burning adaptation of a Stephen King story, Charles (Adrien Brody) worries that he’s losing his mind when he keeps hearing rats—or something—scurrying behind the walls of his inherited estate. When he visits a local asylum to see if his madness might be inherited, he gets an earful about “vermiphobia,” the excessive fear of worms. That can’t be good.
  • The Walking Dead (Sunday, 9/8c, AMC): More bad news for Daryl (Norman Reedus) and his faithful Dog, who end up in the custody of those deadly Reapers.
  • The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City (Sunday, 9/8c, Bravo): For the second season, the inner circle welcomes Jennie Nguyen, a successful entrepreneur who sold her medical spas to become a stay-at-home mom to her three kids. But now her husband wants more, even considering taking a sister wife if she balks.