Arts & Culture

Southern Streaming: Hallmark Magic at Biltmore, a Heart-Wrenching Jon Batiste Doc, and the Next Yellowstone Spin-off

November’s standout series, movies, and podcasts with Southern ties

Photo: Kwaku Alston / Paramount

David Oyelowo and Lauren Banks star in Lawmen: Bass Reeves.

“What I will not do is change because some critics think it’s not art.” Is that a quote from Tyler Perry in the new documentary about his life, out this month (see below), or a quote from me about this Southern Streaming column? Guess you’ll need to read this month’s jam-packed edition to find out!

Hallmark’s the Spot

A Biltmore Christmas, Hallmark, Peacock

photo: Courtesy of Hallmark Channel
Joy Lenz and Kristoffer Polaha costar in A Biltmore Christmas.

Name a more prime Hallmark holiday movie placement than 8:00 p.m. the Sunday after Thanksgiving? The honor of the slot this year goes to A Biltmore Christmas, in which a screenwriter time-travels back to the forties thanks to a magical hourglass she finds at Biltmore, the Vanderbilt manse in Asheville, North Carolina. No, you’re not high on turkey and gravy, you read all of that right.

The Next Yellowstone?

Lawmen: Bass Reeves, Paramount+

The rich history of Black cowboys has long been undersung, but Yellowstone executive producer Taylor Sheridan and star David Oyelowo hope to bring it to the forefront with Bass Reeves, a series starting November 5 that will tell the story of one of the first Black deputy U.S. marshals. Native Texan Dennis Quaid, subject of G&G’s Interview in the August/September 2023 issue, costars as one of Reeves’s fellow marshals. 

Heavy Hitter

Rumble Through the Dark, Prime Video et al.

The second Michael Farris Smith book adaptation to hit screens this fall, Rumble Through the Dark—based on his novel The Fighter—follows a bare-knuckle fighter (played by Aaron Eckhart) as he tries to save his dying foster mother’s home. You can catch it on video on demand starting November 10, and read more about it in this G&G interview with Smith.

The Man Behind the March

Rustin, Netflix

photo: David Lee / Netflix
Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin.

Bayard Rustin may not have received the spotlight that shined on his fellow civil rights activists, but as the brains behind 1963’s March on Washington, his mark on the fight for equality was indelible. In this can’t-miss, vibrant film that lands November 17—directed by five-time Tony Award winner George C. Wolfe and starring Emmy winner Colman Domingo and Chris Rock—Rustin finally gets his time on center stage. 

Strokes of Genius

Nyad, Netflix

photo: Liz Parkinson / Netflix
Annette Bening as Diana Nyad.

It takes a powerhouse to portray a powerhouse. In this case, the lauded actress Annette Bening takes on the true story of Diana Nyad, who at the age of sixty-four accomplished her dream of swimming the 110 miles of open ocean, sans shark cage, between Havana, Cuba, and Key West, Florida. Her best friend and coach, played by Oscar winner Jodie Foster, helps her every stroke of the way. 

Second Helping

High on the Hog, Netflix

photo: Courtesy of Netflix
Stephen Satterfield and Jessica B. Harris in High on the Hog.

On November 22, host Stephen Satterfield returns to Netflix with season two of this critically acclaimed docuseries, based on G&G contributing editor Jessica B. Harris’s 2011 history High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America. This time, the four episodes will see Satterfield traveling across America to explore how African American cuisine bloomed after emancipation, from chicken and waffles during the Harlem Renaissance to today’s community gardens helping combat injustice in the food system.

Bittersweet Notes

American Symphony, Netflix 

photo: Winnie Au
Jon Batiste at home in New Jersey.

G&G readers know the musical brilliance of the Oscar-winning New Orleans native (and longtime The Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader) Jon Batiste. But this documentary, which lands November 24, unveils the challenges he’s faced over the last few years, both professionally and personally: While he attempts to compose an original symphony, Batiste’s partner, the best-selling memoirist Suleika Jaouad, discovers her rare form of leukemia has returned.

Landmark Land Battle

Silver Dollar Road, Prime Video

photo: Courtesy of Prime Video
Licurtis Reels in Silver Dollar Road.

The fraught nature of Black landownership and heirs’ property resounds through this just-released Amazon Studios documentary from the Oscar-nominated director Raoul Peck. Based on this infuriating ProPublica feature about two North Carolina brothers imprisoned for eight years for refusing to leave their land, Silver Dollar Road centers on Mamie Reels Ellison and her niece Kim Renee Duhon as they attempt to protect their ancestral property and their family.

Madea Goes to the Movies

Maxine’s Baby: The Tyler Perry Story, Prime Video

photo: Courtesy of Amazon / MGM Studios
Tyler Perry in Maxine’s Baby: The Tyler Perry Story.

Grain of salt alert: This new documentary about film and TV mogul Tyler Perry, streaming November 17, was codirected and coproduced by a family member of sorts, Perry’s longtime (now ex-) girlfriend and the mother of his son, the documentarian Gelila Bekele. That being said, if you’re curious about Perry and how he built what is an undeniable media empire and philanthropic legacy, this is likely the most in-depth look yet at the New Orleans native and Atlanta resident.