We gave it a C+
Jerrod Carmichael is a very funny comedian. You might recognize him from the Seth Rogen comedy Neighbors, or a number of smaller alt-comedy projects, or even the stand-up stage. But John Mulaney is also a very funny comedian… and his show wasn’t very funny.
Ditto The Carmichael Show. Like Mulaney, Carmichael’s laugh-track sitcom has a throwback multi-cam style, coming off like a blend of Everybody Loves Raymond and Seinfeld. But unlike Seinfeld, this is very much a show about something: Politics, religion, race, current events are just some of the topics the comedy touches on.
Carmichael clearly wants to put some political flair back into network sitcoms. It’s a good idea, and there are times when Carmichael Show does it well. But it mostly ends up flat and awkwardly stilted. The premiere kicks off with the main character Jerrod (played, of course, by Carmichael) and his girlfriend, Maxine (Amber Stevens West), having to tell his parents (David Alan Grier and Loretta Devine) that they’ve moved in together. Classic, time-tested premise? You bet. But the episode slides into a series of disjointed stand-up-style riffs on politics, religion, and current events.
Some of it is funny, sure. But each episode comes off as though Carmichael wrote one decent full stage set and then simply divided it up among the characters.
Despite all that, there are still moments where the show shine (Grier and Devine are both naturally charismatic performers)—but just not enough of them. Everyone seems too rigid, too busy delivering their lines to focus on being, you know, funny. It’s not hard to see a show like this getting better down the road. For now, though it doesn’t quite live up to its promise. Here’s to hoping The Carmichael Show will find its groove.