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The Carmichael Show
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Carmichael Show is a sitcom inspired by stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael, who also plays the titular character. The show explores highly charged current events such as the Trayvon Martin shooting, standoffs between protestors and police, and allegations of racial profiling, mostly with a liberal-leaning stance and always with a sense of humor. Some will find this funny; others may be offended by its prominent place in a comedy series. Either way, it raises some serious topics you should consider talking about with your teens if they tune in. Expect some language ("damn," "hell," and "ass") and references to sex.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael stars as a fictional version of himself surrounded by a fictional version of his family in THE CARMICHAEL SHOW. Having just moved in together, Jerrod and his girlfriend, Maxine (Amber Stevens West), are fumbling through the rules of cohabitation, ever complicated by his overbearing family: his dad, Joe (David Alan Grier); his mom, Cynthia (Loretta Devine); his brother, Bobby (Lil Rel Howery); and his ex-sister-in-law, Nekeisha (Tiffany Haddish). These family members are opinionated and outspoken, sending sparks flying when they're all in the same room, but they have each other's backs too.
Is it any good?
This sitcom's talented cast takes material borrowed from Carmichael's stand-up routines and runs with it, so much so that the assumed star fades from prominence in the company of Devine and Grier. This family definitely puts the fun back into dysfunction, what with Cynthia's Bible-thumping, Joe's overblown opinions, and Bobby and Nekeisha's indeterminate post-divorce relationship. By comparison, Jerrod and Maxine come across as a bit boring, making the scenes that omit their entourage feel underplayed.
It's not the first sitcom to tap into the ills of unwelcome family influence for laughs (think Everybody Loves Raymond meets The Nutty Professor), and The Carmichael Show is inarguably funny, but it also takes a big chance by going political with much of its content. Rather than giving viewers a 30-minute escape from real life, the show leans on current incarnations of issues such as racial profiling, gun violence, police brutality, and civil disobedience, referencing divisive news events by name and making light of the fallout. It's a bold line to walk, especially for a traditional sitcom, but it could be the key that keeps people watching.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about race relations in America. In what ways have we made great strides since the civil rights movement? Are we still improving? How can we agree on what defines success in this regard?
Do you agree with the political slant of this show? Does the entertainment industry have a responsibility to include different viewpoints in a venue such as this? Where should we expect to find unbiased information?
Whom would you say is the star of this show? Do you think there's competition for the spotlight here? Which character is your favorite, and why?