By Kevin McDonough
Things are bad and are probably going to get worse. But that's not what you want to read in the TV column. Or see on TV.
Or do you?
It's difficult to see how the entertainment industry is going to adjust to a plague or …
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It's difficult to see how the entertainment industry is going to adjust to a plague or depression. Will this calamity bring the asteroid that kills the dinosaur-like cable television industry? Or make it more necessary than ever?
And that's just the business side of this particular moment. When does programming begin to change and reflect our weird "new normal"?
The folks at TBS had no idea that we might be facing hard times when they announced the second season premiere of "The Misery Index" (10:30 p.m., TBS, TV-14) for May 14.
For the uninitiated, this game show asks contestants to crack wise about desperately terrible situations, often brought about by humans with severe lack of judgment. In each segment, two ordinary players are teamed with members of the Tenderloins comedy troupe, better known for appearing on truTV's "Impractical Jokers." They have to assess the relative misery or terribleness of a series of astoundingly awful situations.
Overseeing this cringe-fest is Jameela Jamil, known to many viewers from her role on "The Good Place," where she played Tahani Al-Jamil..
Exotic, glamorous and equipped with an internationally posh accent and veneer, Jamil presides over these tasteless shenanigans with a reserved disdain. Imagine Heidi Klum losing control of "Project Runway" as contestants go at each other with scissors.
There's no denying that "Index" is amusing in its own miserable way. But is its schadenfreude right for our particular moment?
A lot of the humor here comes from the panel's sense of superiority: "We'd never do something so dumb/cruel/painful/thoughtless."
One of the more lamentable aspects of our current morass is the rise of social judgment: "Are you sure you're standing six feet apart? Wearing your mask properly?"
Fear that we may become a nation of curtain-clutching tattletales has driven some to take things too far in the opposite direction, encouraging people to engage in unsafe and dangerous behavior. The kind that might get them on "The Misery Index."
• News that Tom Hanks and his wife were recently infected with coronavirus and isolated in Australia inspired some wags to observe that the star of "Cast Away" (6:30 p.m. HBO) had been marooned on an island with only (Rita) Wilson for company.
TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
• The Osbournes extend their 15 minutes of fame by appearing on "Celebrity Watch Party" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
• A hospital evacuation becomes perilous on "Station 19" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
• A surprise witness throws Annalise off balance on the series finale of "How to Get Away With Murder" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
A small-town milquetoast's (Edward G. Robinson) life gets complicated when he's mistaken for his bank-robbing look-alike (Robinson) in the 1935 comedy "The Whole Town's Talking" (8 p.m., TCM, TV-G), directed by John Ford.
The family helps an ailing librarian on "Young Sheldon" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-PG) * Robin may be ready to move on, romance-wise, on "Council of Dads" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) * Katy needs Gloria's help on the season finale of "Katy Keene" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) * Mother-in-law woes on "Man With a Plan" (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-14) * Painful Christmas memories on "Mom" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14) * Big shots hobnob in Finland on "Blindspot" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14) * Nia's got game on "In the Dark" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14) * A prison visit on "Broke" (9:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Food trucks and doomsday cults on "S.W.A.T." (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
"The Daily Show With Trevor Noah" (11 p.m., Comedy Central) practices social distancing * Nikki Glaser appears on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS, TV-14) * Jimmy Fallon welcomes Chris Evans, Mo Willems and Maroon 5 on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) * Stephen Curry visits "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (11:35 p.m., ABC) * Amy Schumer, Chris Fischer and Graham Norton visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC) * Tracy Morgan and Bazzi appear on "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
© 2020, United Feature Syndicate
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