Essays · TV

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Genius’ Debut Plus More TV You Must See This Week

By  · Published on April 23rd, 2017
Elisabeth Moss in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Two exciting new limited series are making rather unconventional debuts this week, with The Handmaid’s Tale premiering on Hulu, which hasn’t had such a big event program like this before, and Genius giving National Geographic its first scripted show. We’re also saying goodbye to Bates Motel, welcome back to Silicon Valley, and hello in a new form to Dear White People. Plus there are a couple new places to have a laugh at the president.

To help you keep track of the most important programs over the next seven days, here’s our guide to everything worth watching, whether it’s on broadcast, cable, or streaming for April 23–29:


Silicon Valley (HBO, 10pm)

The boys of Pied Piper return, but they’re no longer a united force. The fourth season promises internal strife, as Richard (Thomas Middleditch) appears to quit his own company, as per one preview, but was going to be ousted anyway. The first episode obviously won’t see that drama all worked out, so we can look forward to some hilarious in-fighting. At some point in the season, Haley Joel Osment will also begin a multiple-episode arc, and other favorite recurring actors, from Chris Diamantopoulos to Stephen Tobolowsky, show up again alongside the regulars, including Jimmy O. Yang’s Jian Yang in a more significant role.

Also on Sunday:
The Circus
S2E6(Showtime, 8pm)
The White Princess: episode 2 (Starz, 8pm)
Guerrilla: episode 2 (Showtime, 9pm)
The Leftovers S3E2: “Don’t Be Ridiculous” (HBO, 9pm)
The Last Man on Earth S3E15: “Name 20 Picnics… Now!” (Fox, 9:30pm)
American Crime
S3E7 (ABC, 10pm)
S2E10: “With or Without You” (Showtime, 10pm)
Elementary S5E20: “The Art of Sleights and Deception” (CBS, 10pm)
Feud: Bette and Joan
“You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends?” — season finale (FX, 10pm)
Veep S6E2: “Library” (HBO, 10:30pm)


Bates Motel (A&E, 10pm)

The surprisingly satisfying TV version of Psycho, no longer just a prequel as of this season, comes to a complete close. The series finale, titled “The Cord,” continues to take us beyond the plot of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic (in a different way than its sequels, too), as Norman (Freddie Highmore) faces the law in more ways than one, including official murder charges and the vengeance of lawman Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell). What will be Norman’s fate? Will anyone else die? How will the show’s conclusion compare to what has led up to this ending? Will it be a memorable finale? Given how they altered the most iconic moment of the Psycho story, anything is possible.

Also on Monday:
The Memory of Justice
: classic doc re-release (HBO2, 5pm)
S3E15: “Heroes Rise: How the Riddler Got His Name” (Fox, 8pm)
Supergirl S2E18: “Ace Reporter” (CW, 8pm)
Better Call Saul
S3E3: “Sunk Costs” (AMC, 10pm)


Genius (National Geographic, 9pm)

National Geographic, the cable channel, is mostly known for nonfiction programming, particularly nature and science series. With Genius, they make a big push into scripted content, albeit focused on one of the most prominent scientists of all time. And yet this biographical treatment of the life of Albert Einstein — portrayed by Geoffrey Rush as an older man, Johnny Flynn in younger days — is apparently short on such things as explanation of the theory of relativity. Instead it’s drama, romance, and a bit of adventure. If you’re a fan of Oscar nominees of 1997, winner of that year Rush is joined by Emily Watson as Einstein’s second wife, Elsa. And if that’s not enough big talent for you, series producer Ron Howard also directed the first episode.

Also on Tuesday:
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
S4E15: “The Last Ride” (Fox, 8pm)
Great News: series debut, with two episodes (NBC, 8pm)
Deadliest Catch
S13E3: “Down in Flames” (Discovery 9pm)
The Americans S5E8: “Immersion” (FX, 10pm)


The Handmaids Tale (Hulu)

At least one of us at FSR who has seen it considers this Margaret Atwood adaptation the best new show of 2017 (so far). Hulu sure seems to think they’ve got something special given how much more they’ve been promoting The Handmaid’s Tale compared to their other original programming. Elisabeth Moss stars — and you know she’s only in great TV — as the handmaid of the head of a future totalitarian state where fertile women are basically enslaved for procreation purposes. Joseph Fiennes plays that leader, with the rest of the cast including Yvonne Strahovski as his wife, plus Max Minghella, Alexis Bledel, and Ann Dowd. The first three episodes of the 10-part series debut this week, allowing for a quick, preliminary binge before becoming weekly event television.

Also on Wednesday:
Archer: Dreamland
S8E4: “Ladyfingers” (FXX, 10pm)
Fargo S3E2: “The Principle of Restricted Choice” (FX, 10pm)
Gomorrah: super-size Season 4 premiere (Sundance, 10pm)


The President Show (Comedy Central, 11:30pm)

Do you really need more of Donald Trump on your television, real or impersonated? Yes, and if you’re familiar with Anthony Atamanuik’s Trump, which is much better than Alec Baldwin’s or anyone else’s, then you’ll get it. The President Show is a fake talk show as hosted by our current Commander in Chief and set in the Oval Office of the White House, with Vice President Mike Pence (Peter Grosz) as the Ed McMahon-like sidekick. It’s unclear if the show will have real people as guests or more famous figures impersonated, but there will be all kinds of content, including Daily Show-esque field segments.

Also on Thursday:
S1E11: “To Riverdale and Back Again” (CW, 9pm)
Scandal S6E14 (ABC, 9pm)
The Amazing Race S29E6 (CBS, 10pm)


Dear White People (Netflix)

Friday is for big Netflix releases, both series and movies, and while Casting JonBenet and the Spike Lee-helmed Rodney King special are must-sees, the most notable of this week’s bunch is this show based on the acclaimed film of the same name. Filmmaker Justin Simien, who won a Spirit Award for his screenplay for the feature, also wrote and directed much of the series, which is mostly recast save for Brandon P. Bell. The satire’s premise, again, concerns a group of African-American students at a primarily white Ivy League university, as racial tensions escalate on campus.

Also on Friday:
Casting JonBenet
: doc debut (Netflix)
Rodney King: doc debut (Netflix)
Small Crimes: movie debut (Netflix)
RuPaul’s Drag Race
S9E6 (VH1, 8pm)
Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982–1992: doc debut (ABC, 9pm)


Not The White House Correspondents’ Dinner (TBS, 10pm)

When Samantha Bee announced her White House Correspondents’ Dinner special back in January, Donald Trump hadn’t yet stated he wouldn’t even appear at the actual annual event. Now it’s being sold as more of a toast to the free press rather than a roast of the president, and proceeds from the special are going to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Even if you’re not a regular viewer of Bee’s Full Frontal show, you ought to tune in to this alternative programming to both the real dinner and Trump’s own alt-programmed rally. Guests known to be attending include Gloria Steinem, Rachel Bloom, Keegan-Michael Key, Kal Penn, Padma Lakshmi, Matt Walsh, Damon Lindelof, Max Weinberg, and Jessica Williams.

Also on Saturday:
Doctor Who
S10E3: “Thin Ice” (BBC America, 9pm)
Class S1E3: “Nightvisiting(BBC America, 10pm)

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.