The 4th of July is a time for being as American as possible—which is why most people spend the day overeating and blowing things up. Given the combined dangers of stray fireworks, sunburn, mosquitoes and bad potato salad, however, maybe you should consider spending the day inside, safely celebrating your patriotism with a marathon of red, white and blue TV.
ESPN’s country bumpkin cousin ESPN2 gets things started bright and early by broadcasting the “4th of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest” (ESPN2 10am) live from Nathan’s Famous on Coney Island. That’s followed by three hours of live cornholing at the “ACL Cornhole Nationals: From Uncasville, Conn.” (ESPN2 11am)—which is the network’s way of saying it’s never too early to drink on a holiday.
Of course flag-waving films are a fine way to while the day away. You can start off with (what else?) the Will Smith-led sci-fi actioner Independence Day (Syfy 8:30am). Although they lack a rousing presidential speech by Bill Pullman, the following films are equally star-spangled: National Treasure (E! 10am & 4pm), National Treasure: Book of Secrets (E! 1pm & 7pm), Born on the Fourth of July (Ovation 2pm), Captain America: The First Avenger (FX 8pm) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (FX 10:30pm)
As expected, Turner Classic Movies drags a bunch of Revolutionary War-based features from the channel’s vaults and throws in a couple of musicals for good measure. No need to even change the channel thanks to Declaration of Independence (TCM 11:45am), John Paul Jones (TCM 12:15pm), The Devil’s Disciple (TCM 2:30pm), The Scarlet Coat (TCM 4pm), Yankee Doodle Dandy (TCM 6pm), 1776 (TCM 8:15pm) and The Music Man (TCM 11:15pm).
Don’t be fooled by Hallmark Channel’s 10-hour “4th of July Wedding Movie Countdown” (Hallmark 10am), however. Although the network’s top five wedding movies will be screened on the day in question, the “4th of July” title is a cheat. As far as Hallmark is concerned, all holidays—Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, National Secretary’s Day—are an excuse to get married.
Murder-centric channel Investigation Discovery also horns in on the date, digging up every Independence Day murder producers could find. True crime junkies can tune in for “Gone on the 4th of July” (ID 6pm), “What Happened on July 4th?” (ID 7pm), “4th of July Murder: Lt. Joe Kenda Investigates” (ID 8pm) and the wonderfully titled “Evil Under the Fireworks” (ID 9pm).
If you’re in the mood for a history lesson, instead, you can choose from “America The Story of US” (History 12pm), “Air Force One: America’s Flagship” (National Geographic 12pm), “The Real George Washington: Revealed” (National Geographic 1pm), “Lincoln’s Secret Killer: Revealed” (National Geographic 2pm), “Lincoln: American Mastermind” (National Geographic 3pm) or “America Before Columbus” (National Geographic 6pm).
If, for some strange reason, you feel like spending part of your 4th of July vaguely queasy, you have two choices: Tune in to the eight-hour marathon of “Dr. Pimple Popper: Red, White & Ewww” (TLC 2pm) or watch “President Trump Speaks at 4th of July Celebration (CSPAN 4:30pm). Personally, I’m sticking to the bad potato salad.
Naturally, once the sun goes down, you can round out your evening by watching a whole lot of Chinese-made fireworks explode in the air over the city of your choice. “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular” (KOB-4 7pm) is in New York City. “A Capitol Fourth” (KNME-5 7pm) comes to us from Washington, DC. And “Let Freedom Sing!” (CMT 8pm) features a pyrotechnic display over the skyline of Nashville, Tenn. Take your pick, America.