Everything coming to PBS in November 2023

Dwayne Tomah and his Passamaquoddy community in Native America.
Providence Pictures

In November, PBS is celebrating Native American Heritage Month with a number of special episodes and documentaries. And it starts with a new series, A People’s History of Native America. The first episode of that show looks at what really happened to Pocahontas, and how her tragic tale was sanitized and turned into a pop culture legend that had little to do with the truth.

Many of last month’s best shows on PBS, including Little Bird and World on Fire, will continue during November. However, for our monthly guide to everything coming to PBS in November, we’re focusing on the new series and specials.

A People’s History of Native America on PBS Origins

New Series Premiere: Wednesday, November 1

Hosted by comedian and actor Tai Leclaire, A People’s History of Native America explores the current social climate in Native America, diving deep into the history of tribal nations and the external factors that have shaped contemporary circumstances.

This episode tells the unabridged true story of Pocahontas and her connection to the contemporary Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit (MMIW2S) movement. Stolen from her home, deprived of her name, her identity erased: the true story of Pocahontas is a grim foreshadowing of the thousands of MMIW2S individuals erased by settler culture over the years. The impact of mainstream media and the cultural devaluation of Indigenous women perpetuates this cycle of violence to this day. Moreover, the jurisdictional overlap between tribal, federal, and state governments invites cases to be forgotten, mismanaged, and even covered up instead of being solved.

Secrets of the Dead ‘Death in Britannia’

Premieres: Wednesday, November 1

Uncover what happens when archaeologists study a skeleton found with an iron nail through its heel bone, suggesting the person was the victim of crucifixion in Roman-occupied Britain. Only one other skeleton with evidence of crucifixion has ever been found in the world. Who was he? What was life in Roman Britain like? And why did he receive such a gruesome punishment?

Far Out ‘The Future of Forests’

Premieres: Thursday, November 2

In 2022, we lost 10 million acres of old-growth rainforest, which is a 10 percent increase from the year before, despite many countries promising to crack down on forest destruction. The vast majority of these losses are happening in the tropics, specifically in Brazil, which accounted for 40% of tree cover loss in 2022. And we should care about these forests a lot – they store the most carbon and host the most biodiversity on the planet. So, can we ever rebuild the forests that we’ve lost? And how do we do it?

Be Smart ‘Can A Billion Oysters Save New York City?’

Premieres: Thursday, November 2

Can you fight climate change with oysters? The Billion Oyster Project in New York says definitely yes.

Serving Up Science ‘Soil: The Dirt on Dirt!’

Premieres: Thursday, November 2

Billions of unseen microorganisms work in harmony, orchestrating vital processes like nutrient cycling, water filtration, and natural pest control. It is a silent but powerful force that sustains life. And it’s all beneath our feet. It’s soil!

The dance company from Great Performances: Message in a Bottle.
Johan Persson

Great Performances ‘Message in a Bottle’

Premieres: Friday, November 3

Experience triple-Olivier Award nominee Kate Prince’s dance and theater show set to the songs of 17-time Grammy winner Sting. Telling the story of a migrant family, the show from London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre features a mix of dance styles.

Annika on Masterpiece

Season 2 Premieres: Sunday, November 5

Annika (Nicola Walker, Unforgotten on Masterpiece) and the team return to solve more murders that wash up from Scotland’s waters. Annika shares her wry insights on
the crimes while raising her teen daughter, Morgan.

Independent Lens ‘Three Chaplains’

Premieres: Monday, November 6

Upholding the First Amendment is not just part of their job description, it is highly personal. Go inside the armed forces to see how Muslim chaplains vow to protect the right of every service member to practice their faith freely.

Two Cents ‘Price Discrimination’

Premieres: Wednesday, November 8

Did you know one person can be legally charged a different amount for a product than another person? It’s called personalized pricing, or discriminatory pricing.

Nova ‘Inside China’s Tech Boom’

Premieres: Wednesday, November 8

In the span of just a few decades, China has transformed into a science and technology superpower. But how did it get here and where is it headed? Take an insider’s tour of high-profile tech companies and labs that are driving China’s meteoric rise to the forefront of global innovation. How does China innovate? What drives its bid for technological supremacy? And what does its rise mean for the future of the global economy?

America Outdoors Understory ‘Mosquitos’

Premieres: Wednesday, November 8

With over a million deaths attributed to them each year, mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on earth. In the hunt to stop the spread of disease, scientists think bacteria could be the key, instead of chemicals.

Reactions ‘Antibiotic Resistance’

Premieres: Wednesday, November 8

In this episode, we find out why Alex Dainis is terrified of antibiotic resistance, and what chemists are doing about it

Rogue History ‘Ninjas’

Premieres: Wednesday, November 9

When the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice hit the big screen in 1967, it introduced a particular version of the ninja to the Western public for the first time. Tropes like all-black uniforms, sword fighting, and throwing stars were cemented into the public consciousness, creating a sneaky warrior archetype that’s inspired countless movies, a reality TV show, and…Chuck Norris? But the full story is more complex, with real ninjas being skilled and multifaceted intelligence operatives rather than mere assassins.

Dead & Buried ‘Digital Footprint’

Premieres: Wednesday, November 9

When we think about what we leave behind when we die, most of us think of our physical possessions. But all of us also have an extensive digital footprint that’s much harder to erase. In fact, our digital personas not only outlive our analog presence on earth but may also take on a life of their own posthumously — a life we rarely control. Could our digital footprint be considered a new kind of immortality? If so, then how can we ever “rest in peace”?

Fate and Fabled ‘Gawain’

Premieres: Wednesday, November 9

This episode explores the legend of Gawain, a noble knight of King Arthur’s Round Table who embarks on a perilous quest where he must confront his fears, uphold his knightly virtues, and face the Green Knight, exploring themes of environmentalism, natural preservation, and mortality relevant to modern audiences.

A Town Called Victoria

Premieres: Monday, November 13

When the local mosque is burned to the ground in an apparent hate crime, the town of Victoria must overcome its age-old political, racial, and economic divides to find a collective way forward. A Town Called Victoria is a Reel South and Independent Focus Original Series.

Deep Look ‘Acorn Weevils’

Premieres: Tuesday, November 14

The acorn weevil has a long, thin snout protruding from its funny-looking face. It uses this hard, yet flexible rostrum to dig straight into the green acorns that grow on California’s oaks every summer. After eating the acorn’s flesh, females turn around and lay their eggs in the tunnels they just dug out.

Sovereign Innovations ‘Indigenous Fashion Innovators’

New Series Premiere: Wednesday, November 15

For more than 400 years, Native and Indigenous peoples have been portrayed as primitive historical relics in order to further settler-colonial endeavors in the United States (and around the world). Traditional teachings, historical records, and contemporary understandings fully recognize that the innovations of Indigenous people have had significant impacts on modern culture. Hosted by Cheyenne Bearfoot (Chiricahua Apache Nation), the series will celebrate the brilliance of Indigenous innovation through the lens of contemporary knowledge and culture.

Indigenous designers reject misconceptions about how Native people “should” look by blending tradition and Indigenous modernism to create a new type of visibility within their communities – and it’s not one size fits all!

Hungry Planet ‘Sweet Potatoes’

Premieres: Wednesday, November 15

Food needs to taste good. If it doesn’t, people aren’t going to eat it. And unfortunately, for a lot of people, that big slice of cheesecake is a lot more appealing than a nutrient-dense bowl of quinoa. So scientists like Modesta Abugu are working to make nutrient-dense foods like sweet potatoes and tomatoes taste even better. And groups like the Sweet Potato Project are using agriculture to teach students not just life skills, but also sustainable business and entrepreneurship lessons.

Serving Up Science ‘Edible Insects’

Premieres: Thursday, November 16

Ever faced that dilemma when your milk is past its ‘sell by’ date but seems perfectly fine? You’re not alone! Get ready for a crash course behind those confusing labels! And learn to decode the ‘best by,’ ‘sell by,’ and ‘use by’ dates before tossing it in the trash.

Great Performances ‘Making Shakespeare: The First Folio’

Premieres: Friday, November 17

Celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio, which saved 18 plays from being lost. Tracing the First Folio’s story, the film also spotlights how New York City’s Public Theater presents Shakespeare’s work for today’s audiences.

Insectarium ‘Dragonflies’

Premieres: Monday, November 20

Before bats, before birds, before pterosaurs, a dragonfly-like insect was probably the first thing to fly on Earth. From nocturnal “shadow dragons” to iridescent species stalking prey during the day, this incredibly diverse group of insects are spectacular aerialists. Our host Dr. Jessica Ware plays air traffic control on the pond to help us discover what makes dragonflies such remarkable fliers.


Premieres: Tuesday, November 21

In June 1972, Title IX, a small 37-word provision in the 1972 Education Amendments, was designed to ensure that all people – regardless of gender – have equal opportunity to federally funded programs. The historic bill opened the floodgates for young girls to participate in sanctioned sports activities. Through the eyes of women athletes who changed the system, the new two-hour documentary Groundbreakers celebrates 50 years of female excellence in sports. Hosted by tennis legend and social activist Billie Jean King, the film weaves together first-hand stories between two seminal female athletes – one from today and one whose achievements helped pave the way, showcasing the emotional and inspiring journeys of women who dared to challenge the system, defied conventional norms and changed the games we love forever.

Frontline ’20 Days in Mariupol’

Premieres: Tuesday, November 21

An extraordinary, one-of-a-kind view of the Russian siege of Mariupol, as seen through the lens of Associated Press video journalist Mstyslav Chernov – who with two other AP colleagues were the last international journalists left in the city at the time. “20 Days in Mariupol” – a Frontline/Associated Press collaboration – is a harrowing and visceral account of Russia’s invasion of the city, including the bombing of a maternity hospital, and of Chernov’s and his colleagues’ eventual escape.

A scene from The Princes in the Tower.
Brinkworth Productions

Secrets of the Dead ‘The Princes in the Tower’

Premieres: Wednesday, November 22

Find out if one of history’s greatest cold cases — the imprisonment of two princes in the Tower of London — can finally be solved. Their disappearance led to centuries of mystery and speculation. Were the boys murdered by their uncle, the notorious King Richard III? Or was it a massive conspiracy to hide the truth?

Untold Earth ‘Grand Prismatic Spring’

Premieres: Wednesday, November 22

Arguably the most stunning site at Yellowstone, the Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the park. But beyond its brilliant colors, what’s happening below its surface offers key insights into understanding the origin of life on Earth. But can the spring’s diverse ecosystem also give us clues to the existence of life on other planets?

America Outdoors Understory ‘Floods’

Premieres: Wednesday, November 22

This has been the summer of smoke, fires, and floods. Experience this year’s epic floods in Vermont on the ground with rescuers in boats, people fighting to save their homes, and scientists explaining the impact of rising temperatures.

Monstrum ‘Creepy Clowns’

Premieres: Thursday, November 23

When did clowns — the characters who filled our childhoods with juggling and balloons — become so creepy? For centuries, clowns have worn two faces: as irreverent entertainers, and tricksters who could break social norms. So when stories of scary clowns pop up all over popular culture, it’s a sign that we’re wondering who clowns really are behind the costume. Do they want to make us laugh? Or scream?

Delishtory ‘Is Pumpkin Pie More American Than Apple Pie?’

Premieres: Thursday, November 23

As American as apple pie? Not anymore! Kae Lani talks about the history of apples and pumpkins in the U.S. and makes the case that the humble pumpkin pie better represents the spirit of America.

Sharks Untold With Jasmin Graham ‘Surfing for eDNA’

Premieres: Monday, November 27

In Southern California, one scientist has developed some pretty unorthodox methods for tracking sharks even when they’re not visible and has engaged her community in the process. This method is called environmental DNA, or eDNA, sampling. eDNA is genetic material that’s released by organisms into their environment. Collecting and analyzing that data is changing how we track marine life and playing a vital role in conservation management. In this episode, see how surfers are pitching in to collect this valuable data.

Brave Spaces “Reclaiming Faith’

Premieres: Tuesday, November 28

Religion has long been a unifying force — bringing people together through shared beliefs as we work to make sense of the world and its challenges. But many organized religions have made Queer people feel unwelcome and rejected, even as their sacred texts teach love and acceptance. But the Toronto-based Queer Muslim Network and the Metropolitan Community Church are working to flip the script. Together with their communities, they’re reclaiming their faith and proving that when it is practiced with love and inclusivity at its center, bravery follows suit.

Weathered ‘Earth’s Climate Has Always Changed. What’s All the Fuss?’

Premieres: Tuesday, November 28

This episode looks at past climate regimes and what was going on at the time regarding humans and the evolution of human society. What we find is a Goldilocks period during which the human population expanded from a few hundred thousand to billions. Now, we’re seeing a rate of change never experienced by humans. This episode compares what we’re seeing now to other periods where climate just didn’t work out for human expansion either.

Deep Look ‘Dog Ticks’

Premieres: Tuesday, November 28

Unlike the deer ticks that humans and dogs occasionally pick up while on a hike, the brown dog tick can live out every stage of its life indoors. It takes up residence on your dog to feed, then makes a family in dog beds and between the floorboards. It likes warm climates, and in the U.S. it’s found in places like San Diego and Florida. This dangerous tick can transmit a disease called Rocky Mountain fever that can be lethal to humans, especially children.

Two Cents ‘Do You Really Own What You Buy?’

Premieres: Wednesday, November 29

If you want to participate in modern society, you probably have to click “I agree” at least a dozen times a month, and the idea that any of us would or could actually read all the Terms and Conditions is ludicrous. If you actually read the terms, you’ll find that you don’t actually “own” the thing you “buy”… you’re just getting a license – or permission to use it – in certain, limited ways.

Far Out ‘Geoengineering’

Premieres: Thursday, November 30

Picture a world where giant vacuums are built in remote landscapes, sucking billions of tons of toxic greenhouse gasses straight from the air and storing it (safely) deep underground. This is part of the “net zero” future that scientists, policymakers, and entrepreneurs fantasize about. Removing atmospheric carbon dioxide could be essential to making the planet livable for future generations. We’re likely to see huge developments in the next few decades, but the question
is: Is this really our solution to climate change? Or is it just another excuse to let fossil fuel companies keep on trucking?

Fate and Fabled ‘The Amazons’

Premieres: Thursday, November 30

Ancient tales of this tribe of warrior women who fought epic battles and established great cities continue to inspire storytellers in modern times. The legend challenges traditional gender roles and inspires narratives of female empowerment.

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