Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Sunday, January 23. All times are Eastern.
Billions (Showtime, 9 p.m., season-six premiere): Some prince once said that art should “hold a mirror up to nature,” or some such. And the news (when not swamped by Republican attempts to torpedo democracy and/or updates on that out-of-control pandemic) is buzzing lately with the latest investigations by dogged public servants into the brazenly shifty tax shenanigans of unscrupulous plutocrats. Thus it’s especially mirror-like that this Showtime series about a particularly dedicated hunter of financial cheats (Paul Giamatti’s Chuck Rhoades) returns tonight, with his U.S. Attorney turned Attorney General for New York switching quarries after the departure of series co-star and Rhoades nemesis Damian Lewis (as slimy hedge fund creep, Bobby Axelrod).
But have no fear. For, as actual New York Attorney General Letitia James keeps uncovering, the New York financial scene is packed full of cartoonishly corrupt tax cheats and assorted well-connected swindlers. This season, Giamatti’s Rhoades finds himself pitted against Corey Stoll’s Michael Prince (sorry, that’s Michael Thomas Aquinius Prince to us peasants), another New York financial titan who—if you can believe it—doesn’t think the rules apply to him. Now, our own Scott Von Doviak has speculated that this antagonist switcheroo represents Showtime’s penchant for not letting a still-lucrative series go even when its well past its prime. And he’s got a point. But watching Paul Giamatti go toe-to-toe with Corey Stoll is still a pretty enticing prospect, as is the vicarious thrill of seeing a venal dirtbag billionaire and his worthless progeny sweat out a tightening investigation into his decades of money-grubbing malfeasance.
Claws (TNT, 9 p.m.): And then there’s the sort of Mob-connected, money-laundering mogul you can (begrudgingly) get behind. Such is the charm of Claws star Niecy Nash (also returning as Deputy Raineesha Williams on the Paramount Plus revival of Reno 911!). As nail salon owner/aspiring organized crime boss Desna Simms, she continues to draw comparisons to another seemingly mild mannered professional who memorably broke very bad. (It helps that Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris is on hand as Desna’s nemesis/benefactor, the gloriously named Uncle Daddy.)
This week, Claws’ fourth and final season plows ahead, and things are even more fraught at the salon than usual, as Desna’s new deal with the Russian mob is threatened by everything from a shocking drug overdose to the revelation that [redacted] is actually an undercover fed. With Scrubs alum Judy Reyes always on hand to straighten things out (as badass enforcer “Quiet Ann”), Nash has a knack for playing all the right angles. Or edges. One of those is a manicure term, certainly.