A moving film that does its best to avoid “heart-warming” cliches, “Monica and David” (9 p.m., HBO) documents a year in the life of a married couple with Down syndrome.
As recently as 1983, babies born with Down syndrome had a life expectancy of only 25 years. According to the makers of this film, it is now 60 years and rising. As a result many people are navigating new paths to independence that for a few include marriage.
Raised by a single mother, Monica resisted David at first, despite his insistence that she was the only one for him. Monica’s mother and step-father throw them a rather lavish wedding and build a home where David and Monica can live with them under the same roof but have enough privacy for a life of their own that includes cooking, cleaning and intimacy.
Their housing arrangement reflects the delicate and often painful reality of parents of Down syndrome children. They maintain an unending balancing act between fierce protection and a painful recognition that they will not always be around to take care of their child.
“Monica & David” is a thoughtful film and rewarding viewing for anyone with developmentally challenged folks in their lives.
• “The Vanilla Ice Project” (8 p.m., DIY) blends two reality TV genres. Ice (aka Robert Van Winkle) was a rap star several decades back, best known for “Ice, Ice, Baby.” He now shows off his prowess with a hammer and his skills as a home renovator. Help yourself.
• With the arrival of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” (9 p.m., Bravo), the franchise has now descended to a place where it’s little more than “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” with a few manufactured catfights thrown in.
For the record, this season features Camille Grammer, the soon-to-be-ex-wife of Kelsey Grammer, who appears on camera to declare that it’s high time she got the recognition she deserves, then decamps for New York for a year to play in the Broadway production of “La Cage Aux Folles.”
The cast also includes Kim Richards, best known for her work as a young actress in “Escape to Witch Mountain” among other efforts. Along the way, she had four children and happens to be Paris Hilton’s aunt.
Look for shopping, a trip on a private jet, a visit to the plastic surgeon and lots of shots of women tottering on high heels.
• True to its “Saturday Night Live” roots, “30 Rock” (7:30 p.m., NBC) will present an episode live. And it’s about Liz’s 40th birthday, to boot.
Tonight’s other highlights
• David Alan Grier guest stars on “Bones” (7 p.m., Fox).
• A killer targets the celebrated who keep dark secrets on “CSI” (8 p.m., CBS).
• Michael has uncomfortable news for all of his ex-girlfriends on “The Office” (8 p.m., NBC).
• A sleeper awakens on “Fringe” (8 p.m., Fox).
• Rajiv creates a ruse on “Outsourced” (8:30 p.m., NBC).
• An exonerated con is slain shortly after release on “The Mentalist” (8 p.m., CBS).
• The guys devise a cheap way to stay cool on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (9 p.m., FX).