The Carmichael Show has never been afraid to tackle difficult or tricky subjects. In the past, the show has covered infidelity, the Bill Cosby scandal, and gun control. The show is able to address these topics by structuring episodes as a discussion and giving time to multiple points of views and opinions. The Carmichael Show returns for season three in form with two solid if not outstanding episodes. The season opener “Yes Means Yes” deals with a conversation on consent and how we define that on our modern landscape while episode two “Support the Troops” explores what it truly means to support the troops.
Consent and sexual assault are difficult topics to tackle (especially in a show labeled as a sitcom) and overall “Yes Means Yes” does about as well as a television show can in twenty-two minutes. The Carmichael Show has established its formula by now: a topic is brought up and various points of view are expressed by all the different characters on the show. In this episode, Maxine(Amber Stevens West) is the voice of reason. Jerrod and his parents bring up various counterpoints to Maxine’s argument that consent should be explicit but they are easily dismissed. The episode lacks some of the usual energy in the back and forth because Maxine is clearly right. That being said, the episode is still solid. Bobby’s(Lil Rel Howry) story demonstrates how consent should always be clearly communicated even when and the writers even manage to find some laughs in an episode dealing with heavy topics.
Episode two finds some more room for nuance when the Carmichael men visit the local recruiting office and Jerrod refuses to thank one specific soldier for his service. Joe (David Alan Grier) is firmly pro-troop. When Jerrod brings up that the soldier, Kevin, was and is a bad person Joe’s stance is that all of that goes out the window once someone becomes a soldier. “Support the Troops” embodies the show working near the top of its game as it explores the way unbridled patriotism can be a problem. Joe’s blind support for the troops is put the ultimate test when Bobby decides to enlist and he’s forced to consider the reality that soldiers are real people. It’s easy to be patriotic and to blindly support troops in a war that is distant and vaguely defined but there are real people out there putting their lives on the line. When lives are on the line, doesn’t it make sense to examine the reasons behind the war they are being deployed in? Ultimately, the show points out that you can be supportive your country and while being critical of its policies or its leadership.
The Carmichael Show’s two episode premiere is a solid start to the third season. The show has settled into a comfortable rhythm at this point in its life cycle. The strengths of the show are they way it can open up discussions about tricky or touchy subjects. It may not always be entirely successful in addressing these topics, but it is heartening to see a sitcom at least attempting to wrestle with current events and important topics. I’m interested in seeing the other topics the show will take a swing at this year and ready to have some solid laughs in the process.
The Carmichael Show airs Wednesday nights at 9 pm on NBC.