on the tube

By Dean Robbins

E! celebrates 20 years of celebrity worship

E! marks its 20th anniversary with special programming. “E! Celebrates 20 Years of the Celebrity Revolution,” for example (Friday, 8 p.m.), looks back at the star-centric culture the network has covered and, to some degree, created.


If you doubt the E!’s brilliance, check out the 20th-anniversary edition of “The Soup” (Friday, 9 p.m.), which trashes the network more wittily than you ever could. Joel McHale gets free rein to viciously rip on E!’s red-carpet coverage, reality shows and untalented stars (Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian et al.). He reveals the network’s unofficial slogan: “You keep watching, so we keep doing it.”

Most of us can only dream of being so sarcastic about our employers in public. The fact that E! lets him do it — encourages him to do it — allows the network to be your ironically tawdry source for celebrity worship rather than simply your tawdry source for celebrity worship.

I don’t think branding gets much shrewder than that.


‘Nurse Jackie’
Monday, 9 p.m. (Showtime)

Edie Falco has one of TV’s most expressive faces. In this week’s episode of “Nurse Jackie,” she takes us from real joy to real despair in the course of a mere 30 minutes. The joy comes during the early stage of Jackie’s car trip with her husband and two girls. The drug-addicted nurse leaves the mess at All Saints Hospital behind, including the lies she told to obtain her painkillers. We can feel her relief as she plays car games with the kids on the open road.


Then comes the despair: Jackie loses the pills she’d brought along to get her through the trip. Just as we felt her relief, we now feel her desperation as she searches for the drugs on her hands and knees. I kept hoping she’d find them so we could get back to the nice feeling from the beginning of the episode.

There’s Falco’s genius. How many actresses can get you rooting for their characters to take drugs? CV




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