Ways to think about America

The nominees in this year’s nonfiction writing category cover the highs and lows of what it means to be American.

In “The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer” on PBS’ “American Experience,” scribe and four-time Emmy winner David Grubin spotlights the “father of the atomic bomb” and his fall from grace during the Joseph McCarthy era.

Marina Zenovich, director and co-scribe of the HBO docu-biopic “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” offered a look at the helmer’s flight from the States.

Even cut-ups Penn and Teller take the moral high ground in “New Age Medicine,” an episode of Showtime’s “Penn and Teller: Bullshit!”

PBS rounds out the category with nods for Amanda Vaill’s “Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About,” profiling the controversial Broadway icon on “American Masters.” Also, writers Michael Kantor and Laurence Maslon spotlight iconic comedians, including Lenny Bruce and George Carlin, in “When I’m Bad, I’m Better: The Groundbreakers,” an episode on the public broadcaster’s six-hour comedy spesh “Make ‘Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America.”

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