The NBC sitcom is airing its series finale Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET
The Carmichael Show is ending this week after three seasons on NBC, but the family sitcom is leaving in its wake a string of stellar episodes on topics ranging from Donald Trump to mass shootings. Here, EW highlights some of the buzziest and best episodes of the series, created by and starring stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael. The series finale airs Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.
‘Fallen Heroes’ (season 2, episode 2)
What do you do when your idol is accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women? This is a question many people wrestled with — and still wrestle with — after allegations against Bill Cosby surfaced, and one The Carmichael Show explicitly addressed in this episode, which sees Jerrod surprising Maxine with tickets to a Cosby show, only for her to say, in so many words, “hell no.” The rest of the half-hour centers on candid, thoughtful conversations the two have with Jerrod’s family about whether or not it’s okay to continue enjoying Cosby’s work. It’s smart, representing multiple different viewpoints on the subject while retaining its humor. Example: “Joe has some good points about the judicial system, but Maxine has made some good points about how rape is bad,” Jerrod says. —Ariana Bacle
‘Perfect Storm’ (season 2, episode 4)
Jerrod and Maxine’s “sexual accident” leads to a discussion about marriage and family planning. By focusing on the morning-after pill, the Carmichaels tackle many of the issues related to abortion without actually delving into the abortion debate. Plus, Maxine first defending her right to use Plan B and then turning on Jerrod when he admits he doesn’t want kids at all is a classic example of the show giving its characters complicated motivations. —Christian Holub
‘The Blues’ (season 2, episode 8)
After Maxine catches Cynthia crying alone in the kitchen, she reveals what she saw to the rest of the family in an attempt to help. What ensues is a conversation among the family members about depression and therapy that doesn’t gloss over the difficulty of talking about mental health, no matter how open we think we are as a society — and that ends with Cynthia getting the help she needs (even it takes a little pushing). —A.B.
‘President Trump’ (season 2, episode 13)
By spring 2016, it was nearly impossible to escape news about Donald Trump, and The Carmichael Show offered its own take on the presidential election. The show upended stereotypes about Trump supporters by casting Joe as the candidate’s biggest new fan, but also acknowledged the seriousness of the president’s campaign rhetoric when Jerrod accompanied Joe to a rally and immediately got stabbed. Every big-name candidate in the race got a shout-out (Maxine was a Bernie Sanders fan, while Cynthia liked Hillary Clinton) and their share of the ribbing. The show captured the wide range of attitudes and perspectives surrounding the fascinating election. —C.H.
‘Yes Means Yes’ (season 3, episode 1)
Sex — and sexual assault — are at the center of this episode, in which Maxine’s explanation of consent leads Bobby to think he inadvertently raped a woman. Other facets of the discussion include the use of safe words and generational differences in attitudes about sex — all treated with both the seriousness they deserve and some sharply targeted humor (Nekeisha’s safe word, for instance, is “Mike Pence”). —C.H.
‘Grandma Francis’ (season 3, episode 3)
A visit with Grandma takes a turn when Grandma decides she wants to kill herself instead of living her last years with a worsening case of Alzheimer’s. Her son fights her on it, while Jerrod supports her decision, eventually having a heart-to-heart with his dad — in a Wendy’s, no less — about the merits of death with dignity. —A.B.
‘Cynthia’s Birthday’ (season 3, episode 5)
At the center of this episode is a debate about whether white people should be allowed to say the N-word after Jerrod’s white friend greets him using the offensive term — but “in a sweet and loving type of way.” Their disagreement leads to another discussion: Should people be willing to give up comforts (in this case, a birthday dinner at a prestigious restaurant) in order to stand up for their principles? —C.H.
‘Shoot-Up-Able’ (season 3, episode 6)
Jerrod’s the victim of a mass shooting — he just doesn’t want to admit he is. During a trip to the mall, Jerrod witnesses three people get shot and then comes home only to discover that everyone knows he was there, and everyone is now worried sick about him. At first, he acts unaffected by it, but by the end, he admits that he is deeply troubled by what he experienced that day. This episode made headlines before it even aired, as NBC pulled it from the schedule last-minute in response to two real-life mass shootings that happened that week in San Francisco and Virginia. Carmichael disagreed with the network’s decision, calling it a “disservice to all of us.” “I understand a corporation making that decision, but really, to me, what it says is 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,” he said on an episode of Chelsea. “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.” It eventually aired on June 28 instead of its previously scheduled debut date of June 14. —A.B.