Who influences the influencers? Hulu begins streaming “Jawline,” a harrowing documentary about aspiring teenage social media stars that received acclaim this winter at the Sundance Film Festival.
The son of an abusive and absent father and a depressed mother, Austyn Tester of Kingsport, Tennessee, has big dreams. He broadcasts affirmational messages to his audience of hundreds and then thousands of adolescent girls “live” from his “studio” in a ramshackle bedroom he shares with his supportive older brother.
The boys go bike riding and swimming in the local watering hole, complain about their lot in life in Eastern Tennessee and scheme to make Austyn a major social media star.
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Michael Weist, barely into his 20s, runs a bootcamp for influencer wannabes. He’s both overbearing and sad, a young man obsessed with his notions of influence and power. He claims he can get the head of Instagram on the phone at anytime. He bosses around a bevy of cute teenage boys, his stars-in-training.
In many ways, Weist resembles the boy-band managers from some 20 years back. But they were grown men. He’s barely older than his proteges. So he understands their appeal. As he reminds them, they could have some “40-year-old” who barely comprehends social media.
The film, the first feature from Liza Mandelup, makes the most of the contrast between our Tennessee striver and these coddled boys. We see Weist take them on a shopping trip to Rodeo Drive and then see Tester meet up with a few dozen besotted girls at a local shopping mall. There’s no question as to who has the passion. Or who has the “numbers.”
“Jawline” makes no overt commentary about the “content” of Tester’s broadcasts or the “talent” of Weist’s troupe. It doesn’t really have to.
A heartbreaking look at teenagers straddling the fine line between aching sincerity and packaged emotions, “Jawline” puts a 21st-century spin on an ancient story. It also allows older viewers a glimpse at a media phenomenon they only dimly understand.
— Amazon Prime begin streaming three standup specials: “Alonzo Bodden: Heavy Lightweight,” “#IMomSoHard LIVE,” featuring Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley, and “Alice Wetterlund: My Mama Is a Human and So Am I.”
— A fading star (Fred Astaire) joins an ambitious Broadway musical as a comeback effort, only to see it turned into a pretentious flop in the 1953 musical “The Band Wagon” (6 p.m., TCM, TV-G), directed by Vincente Minnelli. Never as famous as “Singin’ in the Rain,” but considered by many to be the greatest MGM musical of all time.
Tonight’s other highlights
— The Detroit Lions host the Buffalo Bills in NFL preseason action (8 p.m., CBS).
— Tori keeps her eyes on the reboot “BH90210” (8 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14).
— A dark force needs fighting in the 2019 adventure sequel “Descendants 3” (8 p.m., Disney, TV-G), one of the more popular cable offerings of the summer.
— Underdogs hope not to flame out on “BattleBots” (8 p.m., Discovery, TV-PG).
— Directed by Spike Lee, the 2000 concert film “The Original Kings of Comedy” (8 p.m., TMC) showcases Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer and Bernie Mac.
— John Quinones hosts “What Would You Do?” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
— A family questions police reports of a sister’s suicide on “20/20” (10 p.m., ABC, r).
Obstacles abound on “American Ninja Warrior” (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-PG) … Taxing matters on “American Housewife” (8 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG) … Dean Cain hosts “Masters of Illusion” (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG) … Driving home a lesson on “Fresh Off the Boat” (8:30 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG) … Variety galore on “The Big Stage” (8:30 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
The top eight meet a new face on “MasterChef” (9 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14) … Taye Diggs hosts “Hypnotize Me” (9 p.m., CW, r, TV-PG) … “Dateline” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
Idris Elba, Maude Apatow and Perry Farrell are booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (11:35 p.m., CBS, r) … Jimmy Fallon welcomes Dana Carvey, Emily Ratajkowski and Chloe Hilliard on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC, r) … Henry Winkler, Roselyn Sanchez and Daniel Caesar appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (11:35 p.m., ABC, r).
Jake Tapper, MJ Rodriguez and Nate Smith visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) … Jeff Goldblum, Andie MacDowell and Bishop Briggs appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).