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TV highlights, Feb. 15 

CATHOUSE
11:15 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17
HBO

While lots of people have seen depictions of good, ol’ fashioned whorehouses in movies, you probably don’t know a lot of people who have actually been to one. With American sexual prudishness on a high ebb (witness the furor over the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” in the Super Bowl a few seasons back), the local house of ill repute was probably long since run out of business. Not so in Nevada, however. With prostitution having been legalized there in 1972, brothels have been booming businesses in the Silver State, where a good-looking girl might bring home $200,000 a year working part-time. In this often-raunchy reality show from HBO, producers take cameras — and, most revealingly, hidden cameras — inside the Moonlite Bunny Ranch south of Reno.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: NEW YORK UNDERGROUND
8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19
AETN (Comcast Ch. 3, Broadcast Ch. 2)

In a metropolis as famously crowded and congested as New York City, it was kind of a have-to case when engineers looked to the ground beneath their feet when it came time to build a mass-transit system for the city. Since New York’s first underground subway line opened in October 1904, the city has since excavated and laid 842 miles of mass transit track (though about 40 percent of that track runs along elevated lines). In this special, researchers with PBS’ exceptional history/documentary series “American Experience” go in search of the godfathers of the New York subway system — who they were, why they built it, and what it means to one of the world’s greatest cities today.

INDEPENDENT LENS: HIP-HOP: BEYOND THE BEATS
9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20
AETN (Comcast Ch. 3, Broadcast Ch. 2)

Wherever you stand on hip-hop — pointless noise, or defiant and moving musical expression — you’ve got to admit that it’s here to stay. With the genre now approaching 40 years old, rap and hip-hop have helped form the soundtrack for whole generations of young Americans, with most fans not fitting into the black-and-urban stereotype. The question becomes: Why does hip-hop have such staying power? To try and answer that question, “Independent Lens” talks with music historians, scholars, fans and some of the artists who helped mold the hip-hop sound.

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