Susan Bellows, Senior Producer of WGBH's American Experience, reflects on the key role historical documentaries play in our modern democracy ahead of the premiere of the series' new film, McCarthy.

We really believe that studying history, and the history that we present in our films, helps to create a more engaged citizenry and helps us understand American society.

American Experience's McCarthy chronicles the rise and fall of Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin senator who came to power after a stunning victory in an election no one thought he could win. After years in the headlines, he was brought down by his own excesses and overreach. But his name lives on linked to the modern-day witch hunt we call “McCarthyism.” Watch the full film here.