ABC departs from its game show lineup to present a special edition of “20/20: Amanda Gorman: Brave Enough With Robin Roberts” (9 p.m.).
Born in 1998, Gorman was invited to deliver a poem at the January inauguration of President Biden, one of the highlights of the proceedings. Presidents have long invited poets to these ceremonies, but Gorman’s reading may be the most memorable since an aging Robert Frost appeared at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy in 1961. The difference being that that was a valedictory moment for Frost, who died just two years later. Gorman, largely unknown when she stepped up to the podium, was a national phenomenon by the time she finished her poem.
Her book quickly hit the best-seller lists, and she made the talk-show circuit, appearing in short order on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” and “Good Morning America,” where she chatted with Robin Roberts.
The notion of a “celebrity” poet can almost seem like a rarity and even an oxymoron in contemporary culture. Maya Angelou and the before-mentioned Frost were perhaps exceptions to the rule. You almost have to reach back a generation or so to Rod McKuen to find a poet presented as “hip” and of the moment. And his celebrity and slim volumes of best-selling works were not universally praised and even invited derision from those who saw him as lightweight. (In Woody Allen’s 1973 satire “Sleeper,” a society 200 years in the future venerated McKuen’s poetry, big-eyed Keane paintings and easy-listening music as high culture.)
In many ways, over the past half-century, poetry has been eclipsed by the popularity of country/folk/pop and hip-hop singer-songwriters on one hand, and enmeshed with a rarified world of MFA programs on the other, producing a generation of tenured poetry professors whose work rarely reached readers not enrolled in their courses.
So, along with the increasing popularity of Instagram-driven poetry, Gorman’s moment marks a refreshing return to the idea of popular, accessible verse.
This “20/20” interview also marks a fairly rare event, a conversation with a person under 25 who is being presented and appreciated as someone worth listening to and not packaged as an entertainer.
With the possible exception of activist/environmentalist Greta Thunberg and the survivors of the Parkland school massacre, the presence of young people on prime-time “news” programs remains exceedingly rare — something that may explain TV news’ geriatric audience and declining viewership.
The goofy baking show parody “Nailed It!” streams its sixth season on Netflix.
Alex (Winslow Fegley), a myopic young boy, is held captive by a witch (Krysten Ritter) who demands he spin a spine-tingling yarn every evening in order to survive, in the 2021 horror movie “Nightbooks,” streaming on Netflix. Adapted from the 2018 horror-fantasy children’s book by J.A. White. Will Alex last 1,001 nights?
Archie comes clean about his time in uniform on “Riverdale” (7 p.m., CW, TV-14).
“Nature” (7 p.m., PBS, r, TV-PG) breaks down the difference between rabbits and hares.
A winner emerges on “America’s Got Talent” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG). Terry Crews hosts.
“NOVA” (8 p.m., PBS, TV-PG) explores the role of bats in spreading diseases, including Ebola and influenza.
“The Future of Work” (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG) concludes with a look at how technology may disrupt employment patterns and lead to a “post-work” era for millions.
Cliques clash in director John Hughes’ 1986 teen melodrama “Pretty in Pink” (6:20 p.m., Starz Encore), and a gaggle of college friends crash and burn after graduation in the 1985 Brat Pack epic “St. Elmo’s Fire” (8 p.m., Starz Encore), directed by Joel Schumacher. Both star Andrew McCarthy, who has recently worked as a television director on “Orange Is the New Black” and “The Sinner,” among others.
On two episodes of “House Calls with Dr. Phil” (CBS, TV-PG): a looming divorce (7 p.m.); a smothering mother (8 p.m.) ... “Family Game Fight!” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) ... The season finale of “MasterChef” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-14) ... “Press Your Luck” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) wraps up its season ... “The $100,000 Pyramid” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-14) concludes its summer run ... Scheduled on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (CW, r, TV-14): Gary Anthony Williams (8 p.m.), Cedric the Entertainer (8:30 p.m.).
Jessica Chastain and Stephen Sondheim are booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Ben Platt and JoJo Siwa on “The Tonight Show” (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... B.J. Novak, Nessa Barrett and Jose Medeles visit “Late Night with Seth Meyers” (11:35 p.m., NBC).