Two TV Premieres, One Villain: Bernie Madoff

Tonight is the third season premiere for two cable series: the FX legal thriller, Damages (10 p.m. ET), and Showtime's sketch comedy show, Tracey Ullman's State of the Union (10:30 p.m. ET).

They couldn't be more different -- like TV apples and oranges -- but tonight, both shows focus on the same subject: Bernie Madoff. And in both cases, they provide fictional wish fulfillment for anyone who doesn't think that the 71-year-old financier got his just desserts (after pleading guilty to a multi-billion-dollar fraud, Madoff is now serving a 150-year jail term at a medium-security prison in North Carolina).

Some decry the fact that no charges have been brought against Madoff's wife, brother, or sons, all of whom worked at Madoff's firm. Well, Damages focuses on the family's role in the Ponzi scheme, and the fortune they may be hiding. Anyone who suffered from Madoff's crimes would want to see ruthless, manipulative litigator Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) set upon him, so it's satisfying to watch as Damages' writers create a cast of fictional characters based on the financier and his family -- and then have the government appoint Hewes to recover the billions they may be stashing away. And this revenge scenario isn't just fodder for one episode; the Madoff-inspired intrigue will be deliciously drawn out over the entire season.

For more direct (and decidedly more crass) jabs at the Madoffs, just flip over to Showtime. Among the celebrities skewered in Ullman's first season 3 episode, her Ruth Madoff impersonation is the standout. With her husband behind bars, Ruth's moved to a 700-square-foot apartment on the edge of Harlem. "Bernie, I miss you and our penthouse duplex with terraces on the Upper East Side," she wails, as loud music blares from the apartment next door. Inmate Madoff is depicted, too (by Ullman's husband, Allan McKeown), with a beefy bunkmate who demands sexual favors.

So, Madoff victims, do you like your revenge served with well-written dramatic subtlety, or darkly comic aggression? Tonight, you can take your pick.

Do you think Bernie Madoff's family was involved in his crimes? Chime in below!

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