Happy Independence Day, to all Americans and to America itself! And how will we be celebrating? If today's TV highlights are any guide, it will be a day filled with binge eating, binge-watching, fireworks, and other exploding things that we don't want to get into right now (more on Dr. Pimple Popper below).
The biggest TV story of the day is of course the return of Stranger Things. The Fourth of July is a perfect fit for a season that's all about summer and Americana. In this case, Americana refers to 1) retro '80s brand recognition, i.e. get ready for a whole lot of New Coke(!), and 2) paranoid conspiracy plots involving, who else, the Russians. It's actually a really strong season, especially if you like Steve, Steve's hair, Steve in silly costumes, girls being friends, friends being friends, the mall, the old Burger King logo, The Cars, Madonna, nosebleeds, and/or if you think Dacre Montgomery's Billy is wildly, infuriatingly hot in spite of yourself.
NEW SEASON: The very simple premise of Stranger Things season 3 is "What if the monster we thought we sealed up inside that portal last year is instead still here?" The charm of this season is how these characters who we've genuinely grown to love, bounce off of each other and rally together and team up to fight supernatural evil. Streaming on Netflix
HOLIDAY MARATHONS: It wouldn't be the Fourth of July without day-long marathons of shows and movies on offer across the dial. Whether you're into comedy, Sci-Fi or Marvel movies, there's something for everyone. In fact, the list is so long we've put it on another page.
NEW EPISODE: Hulu's horror anthology Into the Dark has kept to an unusual schedule, releasing roughly one episode a month, with each installment corresponding to that month's big holiday. Which means this month we're getting an Independence Day-themed installment that will touch on current events (specifically immigration). The series, from horror production company Blumhouse Productions, is been planned to go for twelve episodes (this episode is the 9th). Streaming on Hulu
SPECIAL PRESENTATION: While there's baseball and of course Wimbledon tennis to be watched on July 4th, America's true sporting pastime on its birthday is watching seemingly ordinary people scarf down extraordinary amounts of hot dogs for our cheering amusement. Yes, it's time to visit Coney Island for the annual Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. While the grasscourt tennis fans in England nibble on their strawberries and cream, real Americans will damage their insides with hot dog after hot dog and bun after water-soaked bun. U-S-A! U-S-A! 12:00 PM ET on ESPN 2
FIREWORKS: If you manage to survive your copycat hot-dog binge without choking to death, you'll have a plethora of July 4th Fireworks displays to watch on TV. There's the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular, featuring Kelly Clarkson, Ricky Martin, and Keith Urban (8:00 PM ET on NBC); CMT's Let Freedom Sing, featuring Brett Eldredge (10:00 PM ET on CMT); and of course the stately and traditional A Capitol Fourth on PBS (8:00 PM ET on PBS).
Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, The Herald Sun, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.