NBC’s “The Carmichael Show” was set to tackle mass shootings this week until a day of gun violence dominated headlines, prompting the network to pull the episode from its Wednesday night lineup.
But series creator Jerrod Carmichael isn’t happy about that decision. In his appearance on Chelsea Handler’s Netflix talk show “Chelsea” on Wednesday, Carmichael sharply criticized NBC by suggesting the network was underestimating its viewers’ ability to engage in discussion over current events.
Five people were wounded during a shooting at a Congressional baseball practice in Virginia earlier in the day, including U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Later, a gunman killed three people at a California UPS facility.
“We all are victims when something like this happens,” Carmichael said. “We all suffer from fear of going out, fear of enjoying your life, and we all suffer from the pain of knowing families have lost loved ones.”
The episode, titled “Shoot-Up-Able,” sees Carmichael’s character survive a mass shooting on the show, which follows a fictionalized version of the comedian’s family based in North Carolina. He fights being labeled a victim until police force him to describe what he saw.
“I thought that tonight’s episode would have an opportunity to talk about these tragedies in a meaningful way, to really lend itself to conversation,” Carmichael told Handler. “A lot of times when things like this happen and someone wants to talk about it in an outlet that’s not the news, people will say ‘too soon.’ But when is it not too soon? Unfortunately, these things happen constantly and it’s a thing that breaks all of our hearts.”
Carmichael explained that he understands “a corporation making that decision.”
“But really, to me, what it says is that you don’t think America is smart enough to handle real dialogue,” he said, “and something that reflects real family conversations, and something that feels honest and true and still respects the victims. We handled the episode with as much love and integrity as we possibly could. But to just pull that is just, it’s criminal. It seems to do a disservice to the viewer, it does a disservice to you, it does a disservice to all of us.”
Season 3 of “The Carmichael Show,” which debuted late last month, won’t shy away from controversy in other ways. Next week’s episode, “Cynthia’s Birthday,” is set to air “n****r” uncensored in a storyline about race in America, per The Hollywood Reporter.