When I first heard about Canadian comic Nathan Fielder’s premiere Comedy Central series, Nathan For You (10:30 p.m. Thursday), I was ready to group it with the countless other newish shows highlighting humorous white dudes. But Nathan For You transcends the popular making-considerably-racist-jokes-in-front-of-a-green-screen format.
The premise: Fielder, who attended business school and “got really good grades,” offers advice to struggling businesses. A spoof on shows like Tabatha Takes Over, Bar Rescue or Restaurant Impossible? Funny. But as it turns out, Fielder goes beyond poking fun at these “expert takeover” series to reveal these little cultural phenomena, like what it takes to become a viral sensation or what some people are willing to do in order to be on television. He’s created these elaborate pranks, but not in a lame Ashton Kutcher way. The result is viewers not laughing at innocent strangers — the unlucky businesses to which he gives awful advice — but at Fielder and at ourselves, the audience who actually watches this kind of crap.
Fielder’s deadpan delivery is unbreakable and hilarious. He has a more reserved sense of humor than a lot of what we see today: loud, desperate comics blurting out the most outrageous, controversial quips they can muster. And that style brings the show to a new level.
In this week’s season finale, Nathan helps a business receive its first five-star Yelp review and gets a private investigator to agree to be followed for a day. Keep an eye on Fielder — hopefully the show will get picked up for a second season, and if so, you’ll want to see what social experiments he conjures up in the meantime.
WEDNESDAY APRIL 17
The Real World: Portland (10 p.m., MTV) – Yes, I’m still watching this mess despite the fact that the most interesting housemate is Daisy the dog.
THURSDAY APRIL 18
Project Runway (9 p.m., Lifetime) – The final four retreat back to their respective homes to work on their collections. Tim Gunn makes his famed mentoring visits to each designer before they return to the runway to preview their collections.
Parks and Recreation (9 p.m., NBC) – In two back-to-back new episodes, Leslie tries to nix some outdated laws; Ann and Chris prepare for the baby; Aubrey Plaza writes an apology to Will Ferrell for her embarrassing fail of a drunken stunt at the MTV Movie Awards. Pro tip: If you’re going to Kanye someone, you gotta commit.
The Ben Show (Season Finale, 10 p.m., Comedy Central) – Season One wraps up with freak animals and an epic blooper reel.
SATURDAY APRIL 20
Mary and Martha (8 p.m., HBO) -– Two women in South Africa with little in common forge a bond when both lose a son to malaria. Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn star.
SUNDAY APRIL 21
Game of Thrones (9 p.m., HBO) -– The surviving men of Night’s Watch are on their last leg; Cersei expresses concern over the Tyrells; Sansa gets a peek at her future. Will Daenerys really give up one of her babies after working so hard to keep them safe?
Veep (10 p.m., HBO) – Selena attends a North Carolina pig roast to reconnect with rural America. But the appearance is overshadowed when a controversial paper written by the Veep’s college student daughter is picked up by a blog.
Mad Men (10 p.m., AMC) – Will CGC steal the Heinz account? Could Grizzly Adams Stan face consequences for his cute late-night girltalks with Peggy? Is Pete due for another beat-down? (Yes.) We certainly aren’t getting any clues from each week’s cryptically vague trailer!
MONDAY APRIL 22
RuPaul’s Drag Race (9 p.m., Logo) – The three remaining queens are summoned to court with Judge Ru. The ladies star in a music video for this season’s episode-ending tune, RuPaul’s “The Beginning.”
TUESDAY APRIL 23
Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life (Series Premiere, 11 p.m., MTV) – Ke$ha’s filmmaker brother followed the gritty pop tart’s on- and off-stage antics for two years as she toured the country, recorded her album Warrior, neglected to wash her hair and drank her own pee. This mess is the result.
CONTACT JAC KERN: email@example.com or @jackern