Veep

HBO, April 22, 10 p.m. ET/PT |

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COMEDY

Veep is a sitcom vehicle, pure and simple, for Julia Louis-Dreyfus-and the first to give her a role that comes close to recapturing the crazy, frenetic dazzle of Seinfeld's Elaine. She plays Vice President Selina Meyer, a woman a heartbeat away from the presidency and miles outside the loop. Meyer would like to think she's pushing an agenda of filibuster reform and clean-energy jobs, but she tends to be derailed by small, stingingly humiliating personal defeats. She struggles to eat yogurt at a photo op, for instance, while losing the battle against a stomach bug. The comedy here, as with Elaine, comes from watching Louis-Dreyfus's sophisticated, furiously sharp timing-she could slash the federal budget to confetti-applied to a character who has the intelligence of a finch. When the veep gets word that the President may have suffered a health crisis, she attempts to hide her delight under a mask of solemnity that keeps slipping, ever so slightly. It's a beautifully executed display of unstoppable vanity. The show's chief flaw is that, although plenty of numbskulls have made it into high office, Meyer doesn't seem to have any more instinct for the power games of politics than New Girl's Zooey Deschanel. But Louis-Dreyfus is so funny, I'll table that comment.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Bravo, April 22, 10 p.m. ET/PT |

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REALITY

The disappointingly uneventful launch of season 4 is mostly about taking Teresa Giudice out with the trash: Everyone gossips and complains about the fallout from her notoriety. Gentle Jacqueline Laurita, meanwhile, apparently is stressed out living in the fishbowl provided by Bravo. (She skipped the season 3 reunion show, leaving a nation shaken.) This is always diverting junk, but if these women actually become preoccupied with preserving their dignity, the jig is up.

YOU'VE GOTTA SEE THIS ...

PARKS AND RECREATION

A season high point: Paul Rudd finally debates Amy Poehler in the race for city council. NBC, April 26.

FROZEN PLANET

Naturalist David Attenborough wraps up the gorgeous nature series. Discovery, April 22.

FOX'S 25TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL

Famous alums celebrate the birth of the network that brought us everything from The Simpsons to In Living Color's Homey D. Clown (Damon Wayans). FOX, April 22.

Things don't look good for The Big C. Unlike Showtime's other Sunday comedy-drama Nurse Jackie, which just returned stronger than ever, this show about a teacher fighting melanoma has stagnated since a terrific first season. Laura Linney is still in top form as Cathy, whose cancer is responding well in a clinical trial as season 3 begins. But the show's quirky unpredictability-including a complete switcheroo of the most heartfelt moment in last season's finale-feels less like life's ongoing, authentic messiness than a creative muddle. It's an MRI that's lost its mapping capabilities.

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CONVERSATION STARTER

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE THIS SERIES?

My twins were about a year old, and I was really struggling with managing my life. I couldn't find anything out there telling the truth about how hard it is. So I asked my girlfriends to do interviews with me and talk honestly and not pretend it's a walk in the park.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH EXECUTIVE PRODUCER DEMI MOORE?

Demi is one of my best friends, and the conversations that she and I have on a daily basis really reflect the questions on the show. She was a great sounding board. The spirit of the show is about women supporting one another, so it was great.

YOU EVEN ASK ABOUT FAVORITE SEXUAL POSITIONS!

I asked everybody-except for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. She's a politician; I couldn't do that to her. But it was tempting!