NBC’s summer comedy series lineup continues tonight (after “Mr. Robinson” ended its run last week) with “The Carmichael Show” which kicks off a 6-episode run at 9pm.
“The Carmichael Show” is inspired by star Jerrod Carmichael’s relationships with his say-anything contrarian father, therapist-in training girlfriend, ever-hustling brother and mother, who is always, always, always right with Jesus.
Amber West, Lil Rel Howery, David Alan Grier, and Loretta Devine co-star.
To prep you for tonight’s premiere, here’s a sample of what a few TV critics who’ve already watched the series are saying about it:
From Variety: Network sitcoms have avoided being topical for such a long time that they have seemingly forgotten how. Perhaps that’s why NBC’s “The Carmichael Show” feels so ungainly, seeking to achieve a balance between tackling timely issues regarding race while allowing plenty of time for jokes about, say, extramarital sex when the central character’s church-going mom strongly objects to it. Over the course of three episodes, some funny moments do emerge, but too often the writing feels as if it’s veering out of its lane to make points instead of doing so organically.
From The Hollywood Reporter: It’s tough to find much in the way of humor when it comes to the unjustifiable deaths of people like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown (Jerrod name-checks the former at one point). Yet Carmichael and his writers find a way to balance the laughs — like a very funny moment when Cynthia races off to put on her “civil-rights clothes” — with the unavoidable rawness stirred up by the situation. Even though it’s not a perfect mix, you can see the series The Carmichael Show is striving to be here, and it’s a shame that it likely won’t be able to hone its voice further, given NBC’s vote of no confidence.
From The New York Times: Tyler Perry has shown that a family defined by volume can be crowd-pleasing, so maybe this one will find an audience. And the show deserves some credit for making an effort to put some substance into its relentless back-and-forth of one-liners.. The show needs to figure out whether it wants to push the envelope or be just another multicamera family sitcom. And if it chooses the first option, it needs to ask more of its actors than merely volleying laugh lines.
And finally from HitFix: Three episodes in, “Carmichael Show” isn’t yet a worthy successor to the Norman Lear legacy. There are times when it’s still figuring out its tone, and the relative intelligence level of each character (Bobby in particular), and the Black Lives Matter episode is the only one of the three that clicks from start to finish. But it clicks in a way that’s a very satisfying reminder of why sitcoms — especially one with an all-black cast in a time of deep racial divides in America — shouldn’t always run from current events. Comedy is always better when it’s about something. That something can be the extreme minutiae of life (as on “Raymond” or “Seinfeld”), or the absurdity of show business (“30 Rock”), or about the larger world in which we live. But you should have a more fundamental reason for existence beyond being a punchline delivery system. “The Carmichael Show” seems to understand that, and given the sorry, diminished state of NBC’s comedy brand, I hope it does well enough over the next three weeks to stick around long enough live up to the potential that’s obvious in these early installments.
So, in summary, somewhat mixed. No extremes. If anything, the consensus seems to be that it’s certainly promising, maybe a bit too earnest at times, and with some additional tightening, it could be a much better show. It’s only a 6-episode first season; depending on how well it’s received, NBC might decide to give it a second year, next summer.
After watching the trailer, clips, behind-the-scenes featurettes, etc, I can’t say that I’m looking forward to checking it out. Nothing about what I’ve seen and heard so far has hooked me. But I will watch (at least) the first episode tonight, and will share my thoughts after. Will you?