'The Carmichael Show': A look at the new program and what's happening with NBC comedy

'Carmichael' stars Jerrod Carmichael, David Alan Grier, and Loretta Devine. Not all critics were won over by the show, but some are saying it 'has promise' and is 'unusually topical.'

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
'The Carmichael Show' stars Loretta Devine (l.), Jerrod Carmichael (center), and Amber West (r.).

This spring, NBC, home of such classic comedies as “Cheers” and “Seinfeld,” got the public’s attention when it announced that it would only have two comedies on its slate for this coming fall.

More comedies would be arriving in the spring, but only the show “Undateable” and a new program titled “Truth Be Told” will be looking for laughs on NBC in the autumn, according to the network. And “Truth” is airing on Fridays, regarded in the TV world as a less prestigious time than during the week.

However, a new comedy has debuted on NBC this month – and it’s being called "promising" by some critics. 

“The Carmichael Show” stars Jerrod Carmichael, a stand-up comic, as a character of the same name who lives with his girlfriend Maxine (Amber Stevens), while actors David Alan Grier, Loretta Devine, and Lil Rel Howery play Jerrod’s parents and brother. 

The show, which was co-created by Carmichael and “Neighbors” director Nicholas Stoller, debuts on Aug. 26. Two episodes of the program will run on Wednesdays for the next couple of weeks. NBC shows like “Blindspot” and “Heroes Reborn” return later in September. 

The schedule for “Carmichael” is an odd way to air the show and certainly different from the planned roll-out for fellow sitcom “Truth Be Told,” which debuts on Oct. 16 along with other high-profile NBC shows. But despite its unusual debut schedule, “Carmichael” is getting some good reviews from critics. Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times called it “unusually topical and thematically pointed for a people-on-a-couch comedy in the year 2015…. The star is as good as he needs to be, given the excellent company.” Molly Eichel of AV Club wrote that “when the show … allows [Carmichael] to explore [social justice] issues and expand on his voice that it begins to show real promise.” Hollywood Reporter critic Keith Uhlich found the show to be “deeper than expected” and also wrote that the program “has … promise…. [T]he cast works very well together….[T]he performers manage to spin gold from the little details that govern this particular clan.” 

Not all critics are won over. Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times called it "a cliché-filled mélange featuring terrible acting." But the fact that the show hasn’t gotten a complete thumbs-down from reviewers is interesting. The spring season will be a much bigger time for comedy at NBC, with such shows as the Rob Lowe program “You, Me and the End of the World,” the America Ferrera show “Superstore,” and the new “Coach” show with Craig T. Nelson debuting.

Comedy at NBC is in flux, but “The Carmichael Show” is an intriguing program on its network lineup.

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