'Friday Night Lights' pep rally and 'Hacks': What to see at ATX Televison Festival 2021
Admit it. World’s opening up, and you kind of aren’t ready to leave the couch.
ATX Television Festival might be your perfect Austin fest, then. This year’s edition of all things on the small screen is staying virtual for the second year in a row. It runs June 11-20.
Festival founders Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson told the American-Statesman last year that they hoped things would be back to normal for a physical 2021 event, but McFarland said it “would be tone deaf and naive to not consider it not happening.” At the time, they left open the possibility of a hybrid of physical and virtual spaces for 2021.
Once you have access to the fest, you can tune in at watch.atxfestival.com. Some programming is live and must be viewed at the scheduled time. Other events are designated as “limited run” (premiering at the published start time and available until 2 a.m. the following day) or “festival run” (available for the duration of the fest after its premiere).
Here are our picks for what to watch this year. Find the full schedule and buy virtual badges, day passes and single-event tickets at atxfestival.com.
ATX TV + “Friday Night Lights” Pep Rally: Ten Festivals Later: It’s been “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” since the beginning for the TV fest. Year One kicked off as the now-classic TV show was wrapping up its run, and the fest had a "Friday Night Lights” event that year and in several years since. This year’s virtual version promises surprise guests and favorite moments from the show. (What! the whole show is a favorite.) Hosted by fest founders Emily Gipson and Caitlin McFarland. (5:30 p.m. June 11, live). (Fest badge-holders will have access to daily, on demand one-on-one retrospectives about the show, too.) — S.C.
"Degrassi: The Next Generation” 20th anniversary reunion: OK, so Drake will not be there. Nevertheless! This Canadian teen soap has a legion of fans, and the 12-person panel promises plenty of nostalgia. (7 p.m. June 11, limited run) — E.W.
“Hacks”: This is Jean Smart’s world, and we’re all just the designing women living in it. If you’re not watching “Hacks” — one of the veteran character actress’ several recent showcases on HBO, along with “Mare of Easttown” and “Watchmen” — then I am not sure I could trust you to watch my laptop at a coffee shop. Smart won’t be on this panel, but stars Paul W. Downs (also a co-creator), Hannah Einbinder, Carl Clemons-Hopkins and others will be. (12:45 p.m. June 12, limited run) — E.W.
“Ziwe”: We think this will be an iconic conversation. Comedian Ziwe, the internet’s leading artist in the uncomfortable interview form, will talk about her self-titled Showtime variety show. It’s OK to squirm — everyone does. (7:15 p.m. June 12, limited run) — E.W.
“Guess Who’s Laughing Now”: GLAAD and ATX Television Festival team up to celebrate the transgender creators, writers and performers in the comedy world. The panel includes Nava Mau from HBO Max’s “Genera+ion” and Rain Valdez of “Razor Tongue,” among others. (3:15 p.m. June 13, festival run) — E.W.
“Selena: The Series”: Please, we know what the people want. And it’s Selena. The cast and creatives of the Netflix series about the queen of Tejano, including star Christian Serratos, sit down to talk about the legacy of the “Como la Flor” singer. (6:15 p.m. June 13, festival run) — E.W.
“Faking It” reunion: I don’t know if y’all watched this MTV comedy, which ran from 2013-16, but I sure did dig its surprisingly complex portrayal of unrequited teen lesbian love. The cast and showrunner reunite to celebrate not-that-old times. (8:30 p.m. June 13, limited run) — E.W.
“TV Mixtape: Original Songs”: This panel on creating original songs promises Loren Bouchard of “Bob’s Burgers” and Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider of “The Other Two” — which are among the funniest TV shows currently streaming, in large part due to their musical chops — among others. (7:15 p.m. June 14, limited run) — E.W.
“In Treatment”: This panel is a festival first, an official Emmy Awards “for your consideration” conversation about the new season of the HBO series, which now stars Uzo Aduba ("Orange is the New Black") as the therapist at the center of the show. It’s open to Academy members and fest-goers. Aduba will be joined by her castmates Anthony Ramos, Quintessa Swindell, John Benjamin Hickey and Liza Colón-Zayas, with showrunners and producers Jennifer Schuur and Joshua Allen and moderator Dr. Siri Sat Nam. (7:15 p.m. June 15, festival run) — S.C.
Michael J. Fox: He became a superstar on the small screen first, as young Republican Alex P. Keaton on “Family Ties,” and on the big screen in the “Back to the Future” series (see also “Spin City,” “The Good Wife” and many other movie roles). That’s just part of his resume, which also includes health advocate and activist; he revealed in 1998 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. And he’s a best-selling author. His recent memoir, “No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality,” was released in 2020. He’ll receive the ATX Award in Television eXellence. (5:30 p.m. June 16, festival run) — S.C.
Angelica Ross: Anyone who loves ballroom drama “Pose,” despite the Ryan Murphy-produced show’s best efforts to make you give up on it, knows that Ross played one of the show’s best characters. "Pose” would have benefited from more screen time for Candy, her acerbic, hammer-wielding, catwalk-strutting firecracker. So, it’s a good thing that Ross secured the bag and broke boundaries by co-starring on Murphy’s “American Horror Story,” thus becoming the first transgender actress playing a series regular on two TV shows. She'll accept the festival’s inaugural Breakthrough Award. (6:15 p.m. June 16, limited run) — E.W.
“Showrunner State of the Union”: Some of TV’s most creative bosses, like Robin Thede (“A Black Lady Sketch show on HBO), Steven Canals (“Pose” on FX) and Michael Waldron (“Loki” on Disney+) join a virtual panel to discuss what exactly is happening with the small screen these days. They should know! (1 p.m. June 18, live) — E.W.
“The Amazing Race: 20th Anniversary Panel”: There’s something both soothing and invigorating about this show that pits teams of two in a race around the world (with various variations through the years). I have laughed and cried and jumped off my couch and cheered more than once. Part of the fun is imagining who you could partner with for the race — and wondering what it would do to your relationship. The show’s anniversary will be celebrated with longtime host Phil Keoghan; Season 1 winners Rob Frisbee and Brennan Swain; Season 12 winners Tamara (Tien-Jan) "Tammy" Jih and Victor Jih; three-time competitors Leo Temory and Jamal Zadran; and Season 25 winners Amy DeJong and Maya Warren. (2:30 p.m. June 18, festival run) — S.C.
“The Good Fight”: Not even gonna lie to you. This is the main reason I want to tune in to this year’s festival. I binged “The Good Wife,” and then I was sad that I ran out of episodes, and then Christine Baranski answered my prayers by starring in this spin-off. The Blessed Baranski is joined by show creators Robert and Michelle King and co-stars Audra McDonald, Mandy Patinkin and Charmaine Bingwa to talk about Season 5 of the heady, darkly comic legal show. The festival will screen the season premiere, too. (8:30 p.m. June 18, limited run) — E.W.
“Kevin Can F**k Himself”: “Schitt’s Creek” is over. That’s sad. Emmy winner Annie Murphy, aka Alexis Rose, has a new prestige project all lined up. That’s the opposite of sad. (Happy seems an inadequate descriptor.) The AMC show looks like a meta mindbender. (2:15 p.m. June 20, limited run) — E.W.
“Walker” music showcase: Details are scant so far, but we’re promised live performances by artists featured in the show and “a celebration of filming in Austin.” Sounds like a fun way to wrap this year's fest. With series stars Odette Annable and Lindsey Morgan. (3:45 p.m. June 20, live) — S.C.