WHEN | WHERE Fourth-season premiere Sunday, April 21, at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central
WHAT IT’S ABOUT The Comedy Central hit returns with an exploration of the theme that “you can never be too exposed.” (Uh-oh.) Guest stars this season include Selena Gomez, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Liam Neeson, Harvey Keitel, Laura Linney, Jennifer Hudson, Lena Dunham, Julianne Moore, Josh Charles, Steve Buscemi and — on Thursday’s premiere — Lin-Manuel Miranda.
MY SAY Amy Schumer — did I mention she’s from Rockville Centre? — is one of the hottest people in pop culture at the moment. But you certainly don’t need critics to tell you that or Comedy Central or her recent Emmy, or Facebook, or Instagram or whatever other barometric instrument of hotness typically offers such deep insights. The first couple of episodes of the new season tell you as much, and also why. They’re mostly terrific, and next week is even better than the launch. Watch at your own risk — the raunchiness is characteristically searing — but as fans have long known, she has something to say and doesn’t waste anyone’s time in saying it.
Her preoccupations remain the same: sex, porn, self-image, the culture’s false idols, and humanity’s willingness to debase itself before them. Also: Men are pigs, and women are either trollops or in servitude to the male lizard brain and its primal fixation on you-know-what.
It’s about as bleakly nihilistic a vision as you’ll see on TV, also one of the funniest. There’s still that occasional tendency to go overboard, regrettably way overboard, but the message remains the same — we are a horrible species.
Schumer also puts herself front and center as object of parody — exhibit A, if you will — but is such a skillful performer that you almost forget she’s the one with the “kick me” sign on her back.
“You are not nothing, you are not nothing, you are not overweight,” she says under her breath, before abasing herself in front of “Hamilton” star-creator Miranda, who’s conscripted to endure an impromptu staging of her Betsy Ross “hip hopera.” (The segment was released online a couple weeks ago.)
On April 28, she stars in a nearly priceless Vevo video spoof of a tween pop star so desperate to be near her man that she turns into her man, whiskers and all.
The structure of “Inside” remains the same — why change what’s worked so well? — with slickly produced sketches, fake commercials and man/woman on-the-street interviews, or interviews with comedy-circuit pals such as Robert Kelly and Jim Norton. The opening episode introduces a new recurring character, The World’s Most Interesting Woman and (of course) a harder-drinking sendup of the Dos Equis counterpart, whose “blood alcohol level is point zero of your business.” April 28’s episode has a sketch with football stars (including Vernon Davis and Greg Olsen) whose favorite TV reality series is about loser fans. There’s another about a pair of Google-like glasses that allow the user to see into the dark hearts of men. A commercial parody explores the nanny/husband affair contagion.
They’re all funny and — even better than that — smart. Fans will be pleased. The hotness will only grow hotter.
BOTTOM LINE Fans will be happy, but you newbies have been warned — the vulgarity will blow your hair back, or right off.