3 PBS shows you should watch in November

Long before there were streaming services, PBS was bringing together programming from all over the world to go along with original documentaries, news programming, and scripted dramas. The best part is that PBS was — and continues to be — free of charge. You don’t need to be a PBS member to watch some of the best documentary programs that you can find, but it would definitely help these teams continue making the shows that you want to watch.

For this month, we’ve chosen the three PBS shows that you should watch in November, including a harrowing look at the war in Ukraine, an extremely enjoyable history of ninjas, and a documentary about the groundbreaking women’s sports rule Title IX, which paved the way for female athletes to get the spotlight that they deserve. For more PBS shows, you can check out our roundup of everything coming to PBS in November.

Frontline: 20 Days in Mariupol

A journalist walks through the ruins of Mariupol in 20 Days in Mariupol.
AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov

The war in Gaza may be dominating the press at the moment, but the Ukraine war continues on as well. Frontline‘s new documentary special, 20 Days in Mariupol, is a firsthand account of the Russian siege of Mariupol. Journalist Mstyslav Chernov and two other Associated Press reporters were in Mariupol when it was surrounded by Russian forces last year ahead of a relentless attack that devastated the city and brought it to its knees.

This is not a sanitized version of the carnage that followed, and the filmmakers have warned that this documentary contains footage that will be very hard to watch. It includes the aftermath of hospital bombings and horrific civilian injuries, as well as the documentary team’s escape from Mariupol before it completely fell to Russia.

Watch 20 Days in Mariupol on PBS/WGBH-TV on November 21.

Rogue History: Ninjas

A ninja unsheathes his sword in You Only Live Twice.

Ninjas have been a popular trope of action movies for decades, but the reality of what ninjas actually represent isn’t nearly as well-known as the stereotypes associated with it. In this episode of Rogue History, viewers will get a crash course in the real history of ninjas. And they aren’t always the black-clad assassins that you’ve seen in film and television. In fact, the episode points out that wearing all-black uniforms would attract too much attention for actual ninjas. They had other ways of hiding in plain sight.

Although this episode is only 10 minutes, it covers a lot of ninja history, from Japan’s Edo period to their emergence in American pop culture in 1967 with the release of the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice. But once you hear what ninjas were really like at their peak, you may never see them the same way again.

Watch Rogue History: Ninjas on PBS.


Billie Jean King looks at a video wall in Groundbreakers.

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been 51 years since Title IX paved the way for women’s sports to get the same funding as men’s sports in public schools. That game-changing rule finally allowed female athletes to get their chance to shine in their own sports.

In the new documentary Groundbreakers, tennis legend Billie Jean King introduces viewers to the women who helped make Title IX possible, as well as the countless lives it changed by opening doors for women’s sports to become fully accepted.

Watch Groundbreakers on PBS on November 21.

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