Despite being a sitcom, The Carmichael Show isn’t afraid to tackle major and often harrowing political issues. They’ve taken on police brutality, and will soon air an episode in which the N-word is spoken, un-bleeped, six times, with a disclaimer beforehand. NBC, unfortunately and unsurprisingly, is a bit more finicky. Last night, an episode of the series that was supposed to air was switched out at the last minute. It was about gun violence, and specifically mass shootings, and followed Jerrod Carmichael’s character in the aftermath of a surviving one of these chillingly common American tragedies.
As the Hollywood Reporter notes, apparently because of the two (yes, two) shootings yesterday — the first injuring Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise and three others during a of a congressional baseball practice, the second at a San Francisco UPS, killing three — NBC subbed the episode, titled “Shoot-up-able,” out for another (“Lesbian Wedding”). The one that was set to air would’ve apparently seen Carmichael’s character being smothered with affection by his family after the event, then having difficulty recounting to a police officer trauma of what he experienced. Carmichael spoke on Chelsea — in an episode that’ll air in full on Friday on Netflix — about his political disagreements with the network’s decision (which they hadn’t finalized at the time of the interview). He said:
I thought that [the] episode would have an opportunity to talk about these tragedies in a meaningful way, to really lend itself to conversation. A lot of times when things like this happen and someone wants to talk about it in an outlet that’s not the news, people will say “too soon.” But when is it not too soon? Unfortunately, these things happen constantly and it’s a thing that breaks all of our hearts…The episode is about me, the character Jerrod, surviving a mass shooting and coming to the realization that although he wasn’t physically harmed, he is still very much so, a victim…Right now NBC wants to pull the episode. 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 real family conversations and something that feels honest and true and still respects the victims. We handled the episode with as much love and integrity as we could. To pull that is just criminal. It does a disservice to the viewer. It does a disservice to you, it does a disservice to all of us.
At the point he did the interview on Chelsea, he was still hopeful that he and NBC would have a conversation and air the episode last night — but it obviously didn’t happen. Indeed, it must be asked: in a country where in 2015 (for example), mass shootings wounding and/or killing over four were happening an average of over once a day, what exactly would NBC deem an appropriate time to air an episode of television like this? The very frequency of it makes it perpetually inappropriate and perpetually worthy of rubbing in the faces of a country dead-set on ignoring the fact that it’s become weaponized against itself.
NBC has not yet chosen a new date for “Shoot-up-able” to air.
Watch Jerrod Carmichael on Chelsea: