What’s on TV Thursday: ‘The Story of Roy Cohn’ and ‘Taste the Nation’

BULLY. COWARD. VICTIM. THE STORY OF ROY COHN 9 p.m. on HBO. Directed by Ivy Meeropol, this documentary airs a day before the anniversary of the execution of her grandparents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, at Sing Sing prison for espionage in 1953. A prosecutor in their case was a young Roy Cohn, whose involvement quickly led Senator Joseph McCarthy — a staunch anti-communist Republican — to appoint Cohn to his chief counsel. There, Cohn played a major role in expelling government officials thought to be communists or gay, and shortly thereafter he became a personal lawyer to then-businessman Donald J. Trump. Though Cohn played many prominent roles, much of his personal life was veiled from public view. He was thought to be gay, despite his opposition to homosexuality, and he died from AIDS in 1986. With newly discovered material from Cohn’s career as a power broker, this film aims to expose the life and death of this menacing public figure.

THE GREAT DEBATE 11 p.m. on Syfy. Celebrity nerds like Jonah Ray, Orlando Jones, Amber Nash and Adam Savage are here to argue about pop culture’s most pressing debates in this new series, hosted by the comedian Baron Vaughn. Do you want to know the truth about zombies? Or whether Darth Vader would be a good boss? These questions — and many more — will be answered in the first season of this show, which started as a panel at last year’s New York Comic Con. Final verdicts on the debates will be reached by Vaughn and his trusty robot sidekick, DB-8.

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