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Primal Screen

The horrible and the miserable

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Check out Braxton Family Values if you want to see a reality series with a little somethin’-somethin’.

How to Make It in America (9:30pm Sun, HBO)
I had my doubts when this series premiered last year, seeming like the formless tale of hustlers Ben (Bryan Greenberg) and Cam (Victor Rasuk) as they try to get a T-shirt fashion line off the ground in New York City. Turns out it wasn’t formless after all, just low-key and naturalistic, with no interest in big plot hooks. How to Make It in America focuses on small but compelling moments, the kind that really happen in life. It takes courage to pull off this approach, but the series has mastered it in Season 2, thanks to canny scene-making and great acting by the large cast of hoods, girlfriends, and business associates.

In this week’s season finale, Ben and Cam struggle with the business and their own friendship. As they have definitely not yet made it in America, I look forward to their further adventures in season three.

Monster In-Laws (9pm Mon, A&E)
Here’s another entry in a classic reality genre: vile people screaming at each other while the cameras roll. Married couples and their in-laws volunteer to enact their hatred for one another on national TV while a bleached-blond therapist offers sage advice.
In the creepiest episode thus far, the therapist instructed the wife to put duct tape over her parents’ mouths — a technique not yet approved by the American Psychological Association, I’m guessing. Would you be surprised to learn that the duct-tape cure led to a violent argument among the family members, requiring a crew member to stop them from killing each other?

I’m going to say something really foul about Monster In-Laws unless someone puts duct tape over my mouth.

Dean Robbins covers television entertainment for the Current. Read his longer complete column each week, only at sacurrent.com.

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