1) MTV Video Music Awards, 8-10:30 p.m., MTV, other cable channels and CW; also, MTV has a preview at 6:30 p.m. and reruns the awards at 10:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. In a music-stuffed night, Nicki Minaj (shown here) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers get special awards and perform. Also performing — Jack Harlow, Lizzo, Maneskin, J Balvin, Anitta, Panic at the Disco, Blackpink and Kane Brown – the first country singer to work solo at the VMA’s.
2) “Unthinkably Good Things,” 9-11 p.m., Hallmark and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. This would have stood out simply by its place in history: The first film under the Mahogany label, it gives these too-white networks a film about three Black women. There’s more, however, that makes it special: It has a smart script, catching all three at turning points. It’s well-acted and beautifully filmed in Italy, giving gorgeous backdrops to sharp scenes.
3) “The Boleyns: A Scandalous Family” opener, 8 p.m., PBS. Long before Anne Boleyn was regal, infamous and beheaded, her family rippled with ambition. Her great-grandfather went from apprentice hatmaker to mayor of London. Her father reached the king’s inner circle … and sent her to the French and Austrian courts. Bright and fun, she returned and charmed Henry VIII, setting up the potent events in the rest of this three-week documentary.
4) “Guilt” season-opener, 9 and 10 p.m., PBS. The first season was clear and sharp, following a rich lawyer from a drunken evening to a hit-and-run death and then prison. But tonight’s hours – half of a three-week, four-hour tale – have zero clarity. The rich guy, broke and disbarred, is working for a low-level private-eye. Before that, we see some basement shootings … then a different view of them in the second hour. The dialog is brilliant; the rest is a bizarre blur.
5) ALSO: The second episode of “House of the Dragon,” the epic “Game of Thrones” prequel, is at 9 p.m. on HBO, surrounded by the opener, rerunning at 7:45 and 10 p.m. Showtime counters at 9 with “The Chi,” with Emmett and Keisha exploring the day; that sets up next week’s season-finale. It’s followed at 10 by “City on a Hill”; Jackie continues his dangerous affair with his employer’s wife … while his own wife is trying to get him back into the FBI.