Brow Beat

NBC Decides It’s Too Soon for a Carmichael Show Episode About Mass Shootings

The Carmichel Show loves to take on hot-button issues, but this one hit a little too close to home.

NBC

The now-familiar cycle of post-shooting responses has moved through the “thoughts and prayers” and “too soon” phases and reached the point where it’s time to postpone pieces of popular culture that remind us how gun-related violence has become an inescapable fact of American life.

The first casualty, so to speak, is The Carmichael Show, which was to air an episode last night, entitled “Shoot-up-able,” in which Jerrod was involved in a mass shooting at a shopping mall. According to Deadline, the episode was “postponed out of sensitivity” to yesterday’s shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise and four others at a Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. The Deadline article does not mention whether the day’s other shooting, in which three people were killed at a UPS warehouse in San Francisco, played a role in the decision.

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“Shoot-up-able” was replaced by an episode called “Lesbian Wedding,” which was originally scheduled for June 28. No new date for the episode has been announced. (The network’s much-touted Megyn Kelly interview with Alex Jones, who has championed the theory that the Sandy Hook massacre was an elaborate hoax concoted by gun-control advocates, is scheduled to air Sunday as planned.) Update, June 27: “Shoot-up-able” has been rescheduled for June 28.

In “Shoot-up-able,” Jarrod returns to his apartment and tells his fiancé, Maxine, that he was at the mall when a shooter opened fire and three people were killed, but his tone is matter-of-fact, almost blasé. He doesn’t even interrupt the song Maxine is singing when he walks in the door—which, in a more fortuitous bit of timing, is “Waving Through a Window” from Dear Evan Hansen, which won several Tony awards on Sunday night. He waits for her to finish and ask “How was the mall?” before breaking the news.

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Even for an episode of The Carmichael Show, which prides itself on taking on social issues, “Shoot-up-able” is especially dark and politically pointed. Jarrod’s calm demeanor, which can partially be chalked up to shock, also mirrors the way many Americans have effectively come to accept mass shootings as inevitable. Some places, he tells Maxine, are just easy targets, “like the airport, or a train station, or a concert, or maybe the quad of a liberal arts college. It’s the reason you and I never go to the movies at like 8 p.m. on a Friday night.” Although Jarrod’s mother is distraught at her son’s near-death experience, his father immediately starts trying to guess the shooter’s identity, reasoning from all-too-familiar experience that they must belong to one of three groups: “ISIS, racist white, Asian pushed to the brink by his tiger mom.” When Jarrod bristles at his assumptions, his father replies, “Who are we supposed to blame? The shooter? The NRA? The Republicans for blocking sensible gun legislation time and time again?”*

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The Carmichael Show prides itself on its topicality, but through an accident of timing, it hit a little too close to home. Not to worry, though: NBC will surely set a new air date, and with only 154 mass shootings in the 167 days since Jan. 1, there’s at least a small chance one won’t happen on the day it’s scheduled to air.

Update, June 15: Netflix has released a Chelsea clip, taped yesterday, on which Jarrod Carmichael talks about the episode and NBC’s decision: “I thought that tonight’s episode would be an opportunity to talk about these tragedies in a meaningful way. … A lot of times when things like this happen and people want to talk about it in an outlet that’s not the news, people will say ‘Too soon.’ But when is it not too soon?”

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*Correction, June 19: This quote was initially published in incomplete form.

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