Why the Carmichael Show Didn't Belong But Should Have
The most popular and most internet-worthy reasoning for The Carmichael Show's cancellation is that comedian, Jarrod Carmichael, is a problematic black comedian being a problematic black comedian when in fact these actions are strictly reserved for America’s "Jon Stewarts" and "Bill Mahers" or within the confines of HBO late-night.
I began the series doubtful of its potential for longevity. At face value it’s one of NBC’s attempts at filling another 30 mins until the next episode of Saturday Night Live, this time equipped with a mousy Loretta DeVine and a “oh wait is that David Allen Grier?” reaction at the conclusion of each promo.
However, when actually giving the series a chance I was met with smart comedy, original storylines, and great performances from the mousy but now complex Loretta DeVine, Jarrod Carmichael, Tiffany Haddish, and even David Allen Grier (amidst many more interesting cameos, including one from Florence Henderson). The show tackles today’s hot button issues such as blind patriotism, homophobia, xenophobia, racism, and many others.
The topical and realistic nature of the show acted as greatest asset. It harkens back to an older CBS evening where audiences would patiently await to see what liberal ideology Archie Bunker would contest. The Carmichael Show is essence is a modern day "All in the Family". It parallels the long running 70s classic by giving us an old school-clinging Bunker type (Greer) setting up our controversial, liberal Michael type (Carmichael) for a long spiel on how the old world is dead.
What gave "All in the Family" its fame and its long term appeal was its ability to skillfully depict the American family during that time, illuminate the biases existing in American culture, and critique our shortcomings as a country. The Carmichael Show did the same, but in a vastly different America.
America now exists in age of buzzwords and a state “excess access”. We all have Twitter, therefore we all are journalists, specialists, authoritarians, and experts on topics we only see on our timelines and only speculate about in the spaces of our socratic seminars of our classrooms and by the water cooler in our workplaces. However, America today is only the authority on illuminating issues rather than analyzing them while they are in the light.
Today, it is much easier for us and our media to say that Kaepernick didn’t stand for anthem because he is “unpatriotic” but not delve into why. It is much simpler for us to blame issues and our shortcomings on the systematization of oppression in our country but not discuss change.
The Carmichael Show ultimately ended in a disagreement of the subject matter of a new season, Carmichael choosing his creative freedom over pleasing a more softened NBC evening time slot.
Twenty-first century America has regressed in it's ability to hold a conversation in an age of increased information. In an effort to create safe spaces we have only succeeded in establishing adult cliques in which our own opinions and ideas are echoed off of our Facebook walls and Twitter feeds. Evening television can no longer accommodate real uncomfortable conversation because our country cannot.
Ultimately, I was saddened at the conclusion of my newfound sitcom gem. It solidified the existence of media coddling the American mind and adhering to our fears of being wrong or hurt, both emotions that good television to evoke in its viewers.
However, from this we should be proud of Carmichael and his integrity and have faith in that fact that truly smart comedy is destined prevail and act as our greatest cultural critic.
If you have a chance to watch the cancelled hit here are some key episodes: