by Pilot Viruet | via Vulture
The news that NBC renewed The Carmichael Show was a little surprising — not because it didn’t deserve a third season, but because it’s a relatively small sitcom that hasn’t drawn loud demands for a renewal. It was almost like we’d all quietly accepted the inevitable: As of late, broadcast TV has taught us that smart, funny, well-written sitcoms will almost always be canceled in their primes. The Carmichael Show certainly fits that bill.
Although the renewal is surprising, it’s certainly well-deserved. Nearly every episode this season has dug deep to find laughs in tough situations, and most have contributed to the larger conversations about topics like Bill Cosby, the stigma of depression, and now, the 2016 election — primarily Donald Trump.
In “President Trump” — an uncomfortable episode title, as it edges close to the notion that this could actually become a reality — The Carmichael Show mixes the political with the personal (as real life often does), reinforcing one couple’s bond while also threatening the interpersonal relationship of two characters on opposite sides of the electoral spectrum. It’s a brilliant episode trajectory: The cold open has Jerrod sort of proposing to Maxine (hilariously, too, interjecting the conversation with orange-juice-related annoyance) but then everything spins out of control when they go to share the news with Jerrod’s family — not because of the engagement, as you’d expect in a family sitcom, but because of political disagreements.
I love that “President Trump” doesn’t make Jerrod and Maxine’s engagement a capital-letter Big Deal. It feels pretty inevitable; as I touched on last week, Jerrod and Maxine are a given and this isn’t the sort of sitcom that would seriously put their relationship in jeopardy. It wouldn’t dedicate an entire episode to, for example, mishaps of Jerrod trying to get a proposal together. Instead, the proposal and acceptance amounts to:
Jerrod: “What up?”
Maxine: “I guess I’m in.”
Jerrod: “Yeah? Cool!”
This strengthens the bond between Jerrod and Maxine, while also giving us a nice little arc to look forward to next season. (I can’t wait to see how a wedding will fit in with the series’ overall sensibility.) It also provides some tricky tension as the couple can’t find the right time to share the news because everyone is concerned with the election. Over at the Carmichaels, Joe reveals that he’s going to vote for Trump (after a handshake photo op in the store) which unsurprisingly sends Maxine into a tailspin. Maxine starts angrily sputtering, even unable to actually put into words why Trump would be so terrible for the country. “No Trump. Never Trump. I just. I can’t,” she says.
Joe doesn’t have a particularly solid reason for voting for Trump (aside from repeating Trump’s slogan and something about bringing jobs home), but this provides the episode with a jumping-off point to have the characters debate and discuss their choices. Maxine is voting for Bernie Sanders because he’s “the only honest candidate,” and she talks about how “we’re starting a revolution” only to get laughter in response from Joe. (A nice touch: Cynthia wondering why Maxine isn’t voting for Hillary, citing Maxine’s feminism, is an all-too-common argument for women this election.) Jerrod plays his usual role: listening and commenting, but never committing to one or the other.
To read the rest of the recap, “President Trump,” click HERE!!!