Let There be Millions of Dialogues (Musing on The Carmichael Show)


With this whole Brangelina separation thing shadowing the media, Jennifer Anniston is being dragged to our screen in form of millions of memes. (Oh by the way #TeamJenForever) In all memes she is supposedly saying something smart about the break up. But in reality she is smarter and stays away from any kind of social media. In fact in real life she has said much smarter thing which is

We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone. Let’s make that decision for ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let’s make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise. We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own “happily ever after” for ourselves.

She is permanently christened as poor Jen because of her childless status. A woman needs offspring to be marked as settled down by the society. It doesn’t matter if she is successful, rich and living her dream she has to have kids. It’s funny how while I was thinking about all these the same day I watched the episode Perfect Storm from NBC’s The Carmichael Show (TCS). The mother of the character Jarrod warned him how he could end up like Jennifer Anniston if he doesn’t decide soon about having a baby. Then the whole family started having a refreshing bantering on Planned Parenthood, decision to not have a child, marriage and everything related to it. Each episode in this show brings in a fresh debate to viewers’ living room.

I had almost stopped watching shows in my living room (that is on TV) because of heavy censoring by Indian channels. One evening while aimlessly surfing channels I came across this funny, interesting and intelligent show. Since then I am hooked to the show. And the best part is style and scope of TCS doesn’t require a lot of scene chopping by the big brothers. There are mostly talks among characters about various issues.

Netflix’s “Master of None” (MoN) too works on similar line. Interestingly enough Master of None (MoN) started with discussion about Plan B pills and the episode Perfect Storm was about Plan B pills too. While MoN examined the issue of having children in different scenarios and few conversations, TCS explored it through dialogues.

The brilliance in the TCS lies in the characters. They are almost as diverse as real world. They are from same family yet they are from different generations, different educational levels, different professions, and different economic classes. The diversity is enriched by the partners of two sons. The show is about fictional life of comedian Jerrod Carmichael. He lives with his girlfriend Maxine who is biracial and led a sheltered life with her rich parents. Jerrod’s brother Robert is unemployed and his wife Nekeisha is not very educated and has ideas which can be cross between hippy and hipster ideas. The parents Joe and Cynthia are typical old fashioned, hard working, God fearing kind although Joe sometimes surprises with his occasional “pragmatic” views. He totally turned the table on Maxine while talking about marriage. According to Maxine it is just a piece of paper and trivial. Joe retorted back about how Gay people have been fighting for the right to get married. So gay people are unnecessary creating issues for something trivial? Not only Maxine even I did not see that coming!

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Till now personally I am liking TCS better than MoN because there are more laughs per line in TCS. Shot in typical sitcom style with live audience and laugh track TCS is seriously funny. And of course the diverse set of characters gives different perspectives and different views to the issues.

We as viewers come across many kinds of point of views not only the liberal and supposedly politically correct views as projected by mainstream media. Political correctness has become too complex to understand lately. For instance in episode Gender Jerrod became big brother of a kid in church and got to know he is transgender. He and his family honestly became perturbed and confused yet they were willing to understand 100%.

Liberal views are supposed to be good but lately it is being imposed on everyone as the best view, only view everyone allowed to have and all other views suck. Now is the view sounding like liberal anymore? TCS has dared to stray from this idea and giving voices to all kinds of views. For instance in the episode Guns there were few legit pro-guns opinions too. People here are normal people like real life facing few real problems and their views are evolved from that absolutely not from their baseless prejudices.

For me the best episode of the show was Fallen Heroes. How many times we have felt guilty while admiring arts of people with questionable records? Be it Michael Jackson or Woody Allen or as in the case of show Bill Cosby. Years back I stopped buying products of Eveready batteries quite easily after getting to know it owned Union Carbide company. But it has become impossible for me to stop watching Woody Allen’s quirky comedies or Kramer’s riotous antics. One can easily replace a thing but how can one replace art? How do you stop being fan of a person’s works?

Like this the show continues to make you ask questions about everything including about yourself. Apart from that like Blackish, The Carmichael Show is making an honest attempt at true representation of African American community (is it a racist thing to say?). That’s commendable.

Lastly about the cast, everyone is playing their character on expected lines. Only Loretta Devine playing Cynthia Carmichael is a little loud but then maybe that is her take on a black religious middle aged woman. In any case the real hero of the show is the writer of the show who happens to be the lead cast of the show Jerrod Carmichael.

If you can’t pick up the vibe yet then let me spell it out – this show is a must watch.

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