Sonia Saraiya

How Ayn Rand's Thinking Has a Powerful Influence on One of HBO's Biggest Hit Shows

Two weeks ago, “Silicon Valley” aired a scene that I haven’t been able to get out of my head since. Though it rather unforgettably features two horses engaged in the very loud, wet, and physical act of mating, that’s not exactly what ended up staying with me about it. Instead, it’s the conversation happening between the owner of the mare, a tech company CEO, and his irritating employee, who just happens to be that same company’s founder. Over the past two seasons, “Silicon Valley” has told the story of how awkward-but-brilliant programmer Richard (Thomas Middleditch) created a game-changing data compression algorithm and made it, with fits and starts, into its own company. But at the end of season two, the board of directors in the company he created fired him, wholesale, because he was a pretty shoddy CEO. And in his place they installed Jack (Stephen Tobolowsky), a non-coding business savant a generation older than Richard and his core group of founding employees. (Richard gets to stay on as head of tech.)

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The Old 'Stephen Colbert' Is Gone for Good: 'The Late Show' Hamstrings Host From Scathing Political Discourse

For three moments on Monday night, the host of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” abandoned his chair. It was a punchline; in response to inane comments about strategy from the Republican candidates for president, Colbert fled his post, either by ducking under his desk or dashing away from the camera’s sightline. The remaining image was of his nondescript black office chair behind the desk bearing the show’s red-and-blue logo.

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Larry Wilmore's Big Night: Late Night's Elder Statesman Steps up in Tonight's Career-Defining Role

This evening, comedian and late-night host Larry Wilmore will be delivering the featured remarks at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. It’s an event marked by uncomfortable professional encounters and awkward journalists in formalwear; the schmoozing is secondary to the drinking, and the drinking is secondary to what has become the dinner’s primary purpose: a good old-fashioned comedy roast. Tonight, Wilmore is leading the charge, at what is also President Barack Obama’s last White House Correspondents’ Dinner in his presidency.

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This Campy Docu-series on the History of Ruthless U.S. Presidential Campaigns Is Exactly What 2016 Deserves

At least in part, the pleasures of CNN’s “Race for the White House,” a six-part series tracking some of the most acrimonious presidential match-ups in history, come from just how hilariously low-budget it is. It might not actually be low-budget, but it certainly feels that way. The miniseries’ heart and soul is in its sit-down interviews with academics, biographers, political advisers and, in some cases, the real-life candidates themselves. Political history buffs aren’t going to learn anything new from this miniseries. But for anyone wanting a beginner’s crash course of the unsightly ways elections have been won in American history, the CNN docuseries offers a good overview.

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'I Was so Angry That It Was Making Me Shake': Sarah Paulson on Playing Marcia Clark in Harrowing Episode of 'The People v. O.J. Simpson'

Tuesday night’s episode of “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” left me absolutely furious when I first watched it. It’s a brilliantly done episode, a portrait of prosecutor Marcia Clark, called, fittingly, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” The title’s playfulness, and its reference to another television show, is characteristic of the show'stongue-in-cheek nostalgia, its joy in being both referential and knowing while trying to lay bare the truth of this episode in American history.

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Samantha Bee's Revolution: Crashing the Boys' Club of Late-Night News Comedy With Her Own Fearless 'Full Frontal'

In the first episode of “Full Frontal,” Samantha Bee goes to Jordan to “investigate” Syrian refugees. The “Daily Show” alum became a legend on her previous show for field segments that interrogated idiots, liars and hypocrites through the winning combination of feigned ignorance and a willingness to do basically anything; Jon Stewart’s goodbye to her, last May, is a portfolio of some of her finest work. So for her new weekly late-night show—the first news satire show to be helmed by a woman, and one of just a handful of late-night shows in TV history with a frontwoman—one of its major distinguishing features is getting Bee out into the real world, interacting with the populace with her own special brand of curiosity and snark.

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Best TV of 2015: Our Critic's Picks for the 10 Best Shows of the Year

10. “Inside Amy Schumer,” season three. Showrunners: Amy Schumer and Jessi Klein. (Comedy Central)

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“Empire”’s Sex Slump: Why Sex on TV’s Sexiest Show (Including That Threesome) is So Incredibly Awkward

The second season of “Empire” seems to have misplaced a lot of its verve, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the fact that in last night’s episode, “True Love Never,” a threesome between Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), Mimi Whiteman (Marisa Tomei) and a random pretty woman named April is somehow the most boring thing to happen all season. In fairness, it doesn’t progress all the way to actual threesome, because Lucious spots April’s gun tattoo and leaves to write a song about it. But there’s a long and awkward build-up to that point which highlights how little chemistry the three characters have with each other. The mood of the scene is that all three characters set themselves a dare and are now getting cold feet at the idea of following through with it. Then Mimi starts crying because she has a quarrel over the phone, and Lucious has flashbacks to his bipolar mother putting a gun to her head. It is not hot.

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Has Amy Schumer Cleaned Up Her Act? Her New Special Is Free of Racial Jokes

The Apollo Theater in Harlem is not just a historic venue for African-American music, it is a symbol; the brick-and-mortar incarnation of a cultural movement that endured despite centuries of oppression. To paraphrase the New York Times, it’s a legacy that can be expressed just in list form: Winners of the Apollo’s amateur night include Ella Fitzgerald, the Jackson 5, Patti LaBelle, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk, and the Isley Brothers. Performers on the stage include Ray Charles, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Dizzy Gillespie, and the Supremes. And comedians who have brought the house down on that stage include black comedians Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes, and Katt Williams, as well as non-black comedians with marquee standing, such as Robin Williams, Louis C.K., Ellen Degeneres, and George Lopez.

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Love “Fargo” but Hate “True Detective?”: Inside the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of TV’s Prestige Anthology Shows

You may have heard that we have a lot of good television these days. As David Carrwrote in this 2014 column, “In the short span of five years, table talk has shifted, at least among the people I socialize with, from books and movies to television. The idiot box gained heft and intellectual credibility to the point where you seem dumb if you are not watching it.”

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