Sundays, 10pm, HBO
Captive audience: Liberals; TV hate-watchers; people who just love to be talked down to.
Moment of truth: The HBO show everyone loves to hate is back! Aaron Sorkin’s TV news dramedy/lecture returns for a second season, with Sorkin giving his characters mountains of dialogue so he/they can smugly rip apart the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, Mitt Romney and whatever else needed a bitch-slapping a couple years ago. Jeff Daniels continues to keep this thing respectable as news anchor Will McAvoy, a brilliant jerk who, to quote Sam Jackson in Pulp Fiction, is trying real hard to be the shepherd. This show is such a sanctimonious clusterfuck, it’s actually quite entertaining to watch.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Phl-emmy.
Orange is the New Black
Currently streaming on Netflix.com
Captive audience: Female ex-cons; people who’ve always wanted to know what the female version of Oz would look like.
Moment of truth: Weeds creator Jenji Kohan once again deals with ladies who end up on the wrong side of the law with her latest show, based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name. This dramedy stars Taylor Schilling as a soap-making Connecticut gal who goes to a women’s prison, serving a 15-month stretch for carrying drug money for her ex-girlfriend (Laura Prepon). Funny, well-written and quite addictive, this show has something for both sexes. Women will enjoy it for the diverse collection of strong, sympathetic female characters, and men will enjoy it for the nudity and girl-on-girl action.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy.
Currently streaming on Hulu.com
Captive audience: Malcolm in the Middle fans; ‘80s nostalgists; people who’ve always wanted an Irish comedian for an imaginary friend.
Moment of truth: If you fell in love with Chris O’Dowd—as so many of us did—when you saw him hilariously investigate his lineage on HBO’s Family Tree, here he is again in another droll, kooky sitcom. This time, he plays someone who doesn’t even exist. He’s the sharp-dressed imaginary friend of a simple 12-year-old lad (David Rawle), trying to keep the boy in check as he grows up in 1980s Ireland. It’s quite quirky and odd, but it’s also rather charming. It’s not every day you find a show that could appeal to kids, parents and stoners who are into overseas cult comedy.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy.
In Memoriam: David Brenner