by Pilot Viruet | via Vulture
Last summer, The Carmichael Show quietly appeared on NBC’s schedule with little fanfare. The entire first season was burned off in three short weeks — just six episodes in total. Nevertheless, comedian Jerrod Carmichael and his titular sitcom turned out to be refreshing, intelligent, and actually funny.
Fortunately, NBC recognized that it had a gem on its hands — the many positive reviews didn’t fall on deaf ears, it seems — and gave The Carmichael Show another, better shot. And that’s how the second season begins: with a preview episode on a Wednesday night, before the series moves into its regular Sunday slot.
“Everybody Cheats” will likely be the entry point of the series for many viewers who didn’t get a chance to check it out during the summer — though I implore newcomers to watch the first season on Hulu, particularly episodes like “Protest” and “Gender.” This is a solid-enough introduction, as it tackles a social issue that’s not as controversial as police brutality or gun ownership, but nevertheless provides both conversation starters and great setups for comedy.
The Carmichael Show is a throwback that can best be compared to “controversial” thought-provoking sitcoms of yore, like All in the Family. The biggest difference? The Carmichael Show provides a unique viewpoint by often exploring issues through the lens of a black family (and Jerrod’s mixed-race girlfriend, Maxine, played by Amber Stevens West). As a result, sometimes this show gets a little more tricky and complicated than your average family-sitcom squabbles about chores — the next episode is centered on Bill Cosby, and I’m sure that will be one for the books — though sometimes it’s a seemingly simplistic, ongoing family conversation.
“Everybody Cheats” is an example of the latter. When Jerrod’s mother, Cynthia (Loretta Devine), spots her best friend’s husband with another woman, the shock sends her into a tailspin: Should she tell Karen about her husband’s apparent infidelity? Should she just stay out of it? What should she do? As always, each character has a different viewpoint and everyone can’t wait to share their opinions.
The main argument is about the ethics of telling Karen. Jerrod’s dad, Joe (David Alan Grier) sides with his wife’s belief that Cynthia should say out of it because Karen “can’t blame the messenger if you don’t deliver no message.” In a funny aside, Jerrod is more concerned with the financials of Karen’s marriage. He believes that cheating is natural for successful rich people. According to Jerrod, an income of $50,000 to $100,000 — the bracket in which he himself lands — means a man has thought about doing it, but won’t act on those urges. Once a man cracks $100,000, he has definitely cheated.
Eventually, thanks to Maxine’s coaxing (“Do you want to live in a world where powerful men get to do whatever they want with no consequences?”), Cynthia decides that she should tell Karen. The call predictably doesn’t go well; Karen believes that Cynthia made it all up just because she’s jealous. This segues into a honest and somewhat depressing conversation about how no one ever blames the cheater in an affair. Using the Clintons as an example, Jerrod makes smart points: Monica Lewinsky is a “homewrecker,” Hillary is “weak” because she should’ve left, but Bill is still celebrated as being cool. (Joe hilariously points out a similar thing with Ben Affleck: He cheated and “became Batman!”)
This is the sort of conversation that The Carmichael Show does so well. Though the scene is stuffed with jokes, it still manages to convey a truth, accurately describing the screwed-up way that society tends to treat victims and reward cheaters — and the gender dynamics that go into it.
To read the rest of the recap, “Everybody Cheats,” click HERE!!!