It’s usually easy to tell when a network doesn’t have much faith in one of its new shows. The sitcom The Carmichael Show premiered on NBC in the summer, after the network television season had formally concluded. Only six episodes were aired, rather than the usual 22 a new show would hope for. But the show—a resolutely old-school multi-camera sitcom that smartly addressed current events without forgetting to be funny—overcame those obstacles to get a second season from NBC after its brief run was hailed by critics and set a summer ratings record.
The Carmichael Show is centered around the comedian Jerrod Carmichael, who plays himself, his liberal-minded girlfriend Maxine (Amber Stevens West) and his more conservative family, including his father, Joe (David Alan Grier), and his god-fearing mother, Cynthia (Loretta Devine). Each episode tackles a sensitive topical issue head-on, with the blunt theatricality of a much older sitcom like All in the Family or Good Times, and in such politically polarized times, the throwback style is extremely refreshing. Episodes titled “Protest,” “Gender,” “Prayer,” and “Guns” sound like they’d be didactic, but they actually allow for varying voices and opinions to be heard, while still being funny sitcom entries.