What to Watch in May

Dan Soles
The National Memorial Day concert. Photo: Capital Concerts
The National Memorial Day Concert. Photo: Capital Concerts

There’s a huge amount of worthwhile TV out there nowadays, so it can be hard to choose what to watch. But who better to recommend shows than the person who programs them? Dan Soles, Senior Vice President and Chief Television Officer at WTTW, constructs the WTTW schedule by searching through offerings from many different sources which include the national PBS network, the BBC, and independent filmmakers to put together a varied and engaging broadcast schedule. Each month, he’ll recommend a few shows that he thinks you should watch.

Emilio and Gloria Estefan: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Friday, May 3 at 9:00 pm


The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song awards ceremony is always a delight. This year, it goes to Emilio and Gloria Estefan, and they’ll be celebrated by some fantastic performers in a ceremony hosted by Andy Garcia and Rita Moreno (you can’t go wrong with Rita Moreno!). Cyndi Lauper, Jose Feliciano, Il Volo, and others will perform, while luminaries such as Quincy Jones will also take part in this musical spectacle.


Dangerous Borders: A Journey Across India & Pakistan

Fridays beginning May 10 at 10:00 pm

Babita Sharma in Dangerous Borders: A Journey Across India & PakistanBabita Sharma in Dangerous Borders: A Journey Across India & Pakistan

In this fascinating three-part series, two British journalists travel in parallel on opposite sides of the volatile India-Pakistan border, seventy years after the partition of the two countries. Babita Sharma, who is of Indian descent, explores the lives of people in India, while Adnan Sarwar, who is of Pakistani descent, does the same in Pakistan. It’s a close-up look at an area of tension that is still continually in the news, and will help deepen your understanding of these two wondrous countries and their relationship.


Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story

Monday, May 20 at 9:00 pm

Norman Mineta speaks in honor of Asian Pacific Heritage Month in 2014. Photo: James Tourtellotte/WikicommonsNorman Mineta speaks in honor of Asian Pacific Heritage Month in 2014. Photo: James Tourtellotte/Wikicommons

Norman Mineta was the first Asian American to serve in a Presidential Cabinet, having served under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. His life story is both inspiring and worth knowing, containing as it does a dark episode in America’s history: when Mineta was a boy, he was imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp. Learn about Mineta’s incredible rise in this documentary.


Leaps of Faiths

Thursday, May 23 at 9:00 pm

Leaps of Faiths

This is a local film about five children of marriages between Jews and Catholics, and how their parents and families navigate the complicated dynamics of an interfaith marriage. At a time of increasing tribalization of different groups, religious or otherwise, in America, it is revealing to understand how people can transcend difference and division.

It’s also the subject of our monthly free screening and discussion at the Chicago Cultural Center, on Saturday, May 18 at 2:00 pm.


National Memorial Day Concert

Sunday, May 26 at 7:00 and 8:30 pm

Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise. Photo: Capitol ConcertsThe National Memorial Day Concert hosts Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise. Photo: Capitol Concerts

This concert is a beloved PBS tradition, now in its 30th anniversary year, and it’s once again hosted by two Chicagoans, Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna. With the U.S. Capitol Building as a backdrop, the National Symphony Orchestra performs patriotic music in honor of our men and women in uniform. And don’t worry: if you miss the first broadcast, we repeat it directly after!

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