In 2015, before Issa Rae took us to Inglewood and Childish Gambino showed America how it was in Atlanta, The Carmichael Show quietly revolutionized NBC’s comedy lineup, returning the home of black sitcom classics like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air to comedy relevance and introducing the diversity in black millennial thought. Through the brilliant lens of Jerrod Carmichael (who, in my opinion, is the next in line to ascend to the royal court of comedy), The Carmichael Show explored vast aspects of Black millennial life and the viewpoints of our parents. From the rare Jordans Jerrod rocks to Bobby’s tech fleece to Jerrod and Maxine’s lax attitude about post contraceptives to Nakeisha’s hustler mentality, The Carmichael Show represented the woke, the hood, the old school, and the emerging, young, black millennial middle class. Although its laugh track format suggested a throwback to syndicated TV cliches, the writing, topics covered, and cast made this Must See TV. Jerrod (Jerrod Carmichael) is an anomaly when it comes to his character and the legacy of young, black leading male stars of sitcoms past. He’s witty like Ern off Atlanta, but not struggling. He’s well off like Dre from Blackish, but young enough to still have the freedom of being in a relationship without children. He’s got Martin’s slick mouth, but presents a more gentrified cousin to Martin’s Detroit (by way of the DMV) swagger. In all, Jerrod Carmichael’s dark, dry humor is the perfect vehicle for his points on subjects such as #BlackLivesMatter, abortion, gentrification, and Trump. Where our generation picks either black or white (a trait you’ll see in Jerrod’s SJW-ish girlfriend Maxine), Jerrod represents the growing number of dissenters who question the damnation of Bill Cosby and wonder why men have to do “manly” stuff for their women. Add in his icy shoe game (I feel like a percentage of the first two seasons’ production budget was spent on keeping Jerrod dipped in retros and Yeezys) and you have the archetype for the Kanye of the sitcom world- controversial, creative, and brilliant.
BY ZIM EZUMAH
Sadly, on July 1, Jerrod Carmichael departed his sitcom, resulting in the end of the series at NBC. While it’s sad that there’s one less Black voice on TV, take comfort in knowing that the show represented a unique voice for our generation and launched the careers of several talented comedians. Want to give The Carmichael Show a try? Here’s your guide to some of it’s best episodes..
Protest (Season 1, Episode 2)
Jerrod’s attempt to celebrate his birthday takes a backseat to the most nuanced, hilarious discussion on the #BlackLivesMatter movement this side of Fox News. Maxine’s desire to protest represents the black millennial’s commitment to the movement, and Joe’s viewpoints give light to how the older generation of black people relate to the new civil rights movement.
Perfect Storm (Season 2, Episode 4)
Contraception is still an oddly unexplored topic in sitcoms today. It’s like people don’t want to hear about people having sex and not trying to have kids. The Carmichael Show does a great job of exploring the viewpoints of the Plan B pill for our generation. When Maxine and Jerrod venture into a Hurricane to get a plan b pill, his parents reveal how they feel about contraception. It’s a brilliant look at a very modern discussion, and Jerrod’s one liners say what every man thinks about unplanned pregnancies.
Porn Addiction (Season 2, Episode 12)
Continuing on the awkward trend of exploring sexuality with his family, the family discusses both sides of the pornography debate. As he warms up to the thought of having a partner that’s comfortable with his porn-viewing habits, Jerrod is threatened by Maxine’s enjoyment of porn and takes it to be a condemnation of his sex game.
Lesbian Wedding (Season 3, Episode 4)
This season continues Jerrod and family’s hilarious way of speaking the unspoken at Maxine’s expense. After a vicious curve of Maxine’s friend by Bobby as a date to their cousin’s lesbian wedding, Jerrod proposes that Maxine’s outrage over unfair beauty standards for women are hypocritical because she’s attractive. What ensues is a discussion on how important looks really are in the world and how men perceive women’s looks paramount to their self worth.
The Carmichael Show represented a faction of black life that goes unexplored, especially in comedy. Do yourself a favor and stream the first and second season on Netflix, and catch its last season Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
BY ZIM EZUMAH