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The Carmichael Show was a surprise hit for NBC when they debuted it 2 summers ago. It won over critics by tackling controversial, and timely topics while still managing to be funny. It's a rare feat in these days of family sitcoms and super sexy single people comedies. Every summer, fans eagerly anticipate what writers, producers, and the stars of The Carmichael Show have in store for them. This week NBC was supposed to air an episode about a mass shooting, on the very same day that a mass shooting happened in our nation's capitol. The Peacock network was left with an impossible decision, to air or pull the episode? Jerrod Carmichael, the star/creator of the show thinks they should have aired it.
Let's set the episode up for you. Jerrod comes home to his family, after surviving a mass shooting at the local mall. There doesn't seem to be a lot of laughs to be mined from this kind of story but I'm not in the writer's room to know what they were planning to do. For all I know they have the funniest bits planned for the episode. The main thrust though of a mass shooting does not itself lead me to believe that this episode was going to be a laugh riot.
It would have been even harder to laugh at something like that when all that morning and most of the afternoon was dedicated to news coverage of the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise. It was difficult the next day when soap opera The Bold and The Beautiful also featured a shooting, though this one was not a mass shooting. Still people look to scripted shows mostly for entertainment, not to be reminded of the horrors of today's world. They want to laugh.
Chelsea Handler is finding a balancing act of funny and informative with her latest talk show. Not sure why I'm bringing her up? She interviewed Jerrod Carmichael for this week's episode of Chelsea. During the interview, it was brought up that NBC may not air the episode this week. This thought infuriated Carmichael and he even went as far as to insinuate that it would be criminal if the network decided not to air the episode on that night. Forgive me if I'm wrong but where in the law books does it say that a network has to air anything that is produced? I can think of quite a few episodes that were produced of other shows that never saw the light of day. After 9-11, General Hospital had to scrap an entire storyline! One episode would have been heaven for those writers and producers.
During their conversation, Carmichael told Handler that he gets what happens but he also thinks that they handled the situation with care and sensitivity. “I understand a corporation making that decision, but really, to me, what it says is that you don’t think America is smart enough to handle real dialogue and something that reflects… something that feels honest and true and still respects the victims...We handled the episode with as much love and integrity as we possibly could, but to pull [it] is just criminal.” No matter how sensitive you are to a situation, there is no way that people would want to see it. It's not rational to think that people would want to see this sort of thing less than 12 hours after it happened in real life. And mere hours after the news stopped their wall to wall coverage.
Carmichael may have a point about it being an important conversation that we need to have. However, a smart entertainer knows when to have the super serious, uncomfortable conversation and when people need to just be entertained. This seems to be a lesson that he needs to learn in these tumultuous times.