American Experience

The WORST episodes of American Experience

Every episode of American Experience ever, ranked from worst to best by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The worst episodes of American Experience!

Presents an absorbing look at the personalities, events and resources that have had a profound impact on the shaping of America's past and present.

Last Updated: 8/1/2022Network: PBS
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Kennedy vs. Wallace: A Crisis Up Close
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#1 - Kennedy vs. Wallace: A Crisis Up Close

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired 11/15/1988

John Kennedy and George Wallace clash over questions of civil rights in early 1960s Alabama.

Directors: Robert Drew
Watch Now:iTunes
Eudora Welty: One Writer's Beginnings
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#2 - Eudora Welty: One Writer's Beginnings

Season 1 - Episode 14 - Aired 1/3/1989

The work of photographer and author Eudora Welty and her impressions of the south after the turn of the 20th century.

Directors: Patchy Wheatley
The World That Moses Built
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#3 - The World That Moses Built

Season 1 - Episode 15 - Aired 1/10/1989

A biography of Robert Moses, single-minded visionary behind many of New York City's largest and most expensive construction projects.

The Great Air Race of 1924
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#4 - The Great Air Race of 1924

Season 2 - Episode 1 - Aired 10/3/1989

Early American aviators try to cross the planet with primitive planes of limited range and under harsh conditions.

Directors: David Grubin
A Family Gathering
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#5 - A Family Gathering

Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired 10/17/1989

An examination of a the story of a Japanese family in America from their arrival in the US to the days of suspicion during World War II.

Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice
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#6 - Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice

Season 2 - Episode 11 - Aired 12/19/1989

The work of a notable civil rights crusader in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Battle for Wilderness
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#7 - Battle for Wilderness

Season 2 - Episode 14 - Aired 1/9/1990

A profile of an early environmental dispute over the construction of a dam in California after the earthquake of 1906.

Adam Clayton Powell
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#8 - Adam Clayton Powell

Season 2 - Episode 8 - Aired 11/28/1989

Documentary on the life of civil rights advocate Powell, including his career as a Harlem minister and a US Congressman.

Watch Now:iTunes
Mr. Sears' Catalogue
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#9 - Mr. Sears' Catalogue

Season 2 - Episode 6 - Aired 11/14/1989

The story behind the mail order tome that brought merchandise (or dreams of it) within reach of Americans far and wide.

Watch Now:iTunes
Ballad of a Mountain Man
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#10 - Ballad of a Mountain Man

Season 2 - Episode 10 - Aired 12/12/1989

Story of a folklore historian who sought to preserve the traditional music of the Appalachians for posterity.

Directors: David Hoffman
Forbidden City, USA
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#11 - Forbidden City, USA

Season 2 - Episode 13 - Aired 1/2/1990

The Americanization of Chinese people in the 1920s and 30s, including public roles that ran counter to their cultural history.

Roots of Resistance: The Story of the Underground Railroad
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#12 - Roots of Resistance: The Story of the Underground Railroad

Season 2 - Episode 15 - Aired 1/16/1990

A chronicle of the organized efforts to help slaves find freedom in the north.

Directors: Orlando Bagwell
Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven
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#13 - Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven

Season 2 - Episode 7 - Aired 11/21/1989

The story of Yosemite told through the diary of one of the first white Americans to visit the California valley.

Directors: John Else
Lindbergh
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#14 - Lindbergh

Season 3 - Episode 1 - Aired 10/1/1990

After his famous flight, Charles Lindbergh becomes known to all the world but struggles with life in the limelight.

Directors: Stephen Ives
Journey to America
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#15 - Journey to America

Season 2 - Episode 9 - Aired 12/5/1989

Documentary on the great influx of immigrants between 1890 and the 1920s.

Insanity on Trial
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#16 - Insanity on Trial

Season 3 - Episode 6 - Aired 10/29/1990

The trial of Charles Guiteau, a seeming madman who killed President James Garfield.

Nixon (2): Triumph
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#17 - Nixon (2): Triumph

Season 3 - Episode 3 - Aired 10/15/1990

Chronicle of the 37th President - from his earliest ambitions to his innovative foreign policy and paranoia of perceived rivals.

Directors: Elizabeth Deane
Watch Now:iTunes
The Satellite Sky
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#18 - The Satellite Sky

Season 3 - Episode 7 - Aired 11/5/1990

The story behind orbiting satellites, the "space race," and the proliferation and uses of man-made satellites.

Directors: Robert Stone
After the Crash
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#19 - After the Crash

Season 3 - Episode 12 - Aired 1/7/1991

After the stock market crashed in 1929, thousands suffered unemployment and poverty in the Great Depression. The most desperate year, 1932, brought World War I veterans' Bonus March, the election of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the New Deal.

Directors: Eric Neudel
The Iron Road
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#20 - The Iron Road

Season 3 - Episode 9 - Aired 11/26/1990

America is spanned when the Central Pacific and Union Pacific join track and enable a railroad system that is truly transcontinental.

Directors: Neal Goodwin
Coney Island
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#21 - Coney Island

Season 3 - Episode 14 - Aired 2/4/1991

A history of the three major amusement parks that made Coney Island one of America's favorite recreational diversions in the early to mid 20th century and the ultimate fate of Coney Island.

Directors: Ric Burns
G-Men: The Rise of J. Edgar Hoover
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#22 - G-Men: The Rise of J. Edgar Hoover

Season 4 - Episode 7 - Aired 11/18/1991

The rise of the FBI from a minor government bureaucracy to the premiere law enforcement agency in the world under the controversial leadership of J. Edgar Hoover.

Directors: Irv Drasnin
Barnum's Big Top
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#23 - Barnum's Big Top

Season 4 - Episode 12 - Aired 2/10/1992

P.T. Barnum launches a scheme to bring entertainment and marvels to the country - something that one day becomes "The Greatest Show on Earth."

Directors: Matthew Collins
Scandalous Mayor
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#24 - Scandalous Mayor

Season 4 - Episode 4 - Aired 10/28/1991

The story of the corrupt political dominance of Mayor James Curley and its effect on the city of Boston in the early 20th century.

Directors: Ken Eluto
Watch Now:iTunes
Pearl Harbor: Surprise and Remembrance
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#25 - Pearl Harbor: Surprise and Remembrance

Season 4 - Episode 6 - Aired 11/11/1991

Recounting the historic attack of 1941, including the planning and military outlook of both the United States and Japan at the time.

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