The Carmichael Show Goes Out With a Bang—Well, a Blunt

Jim Spellman/WireImage
Jim Spellman/WireImage

The Carmichael Show, the quirky, timely, thought-provoking sitcom starring Jerrod Carmichael, will be no more after three seasons at NBC.


The show, which took on taboo topics, such as porn and masturbation, the n-word, police brutality and blacks voting for Donald Trump (yes, there are even some in my family), has been canceled, NBC recently announced (but we think Carmichael quit before that).

Reports emerged that there was already a significant rift between the network and the show’s main production company and that talks had reached their breaking point around Carmichael’s vocal displeasure at NBC’s decision not to air a mass-shooting episode days after a real-life shooting at a congressional baseball game (Carmichael called the decision “criminal”).

Alas, we have one last good topic from the show: It recently tackled the issue of drug use, and in true Carmichael fashion, it was not a typical, “Just say no” admonishment.

At the end of the episode, in which we see all the ways in which real people use and abuse substances—Nekeisha (Tiffany Hadish) drinks, Maxine (Amber Stevens West) pops Xanax and Jerrod (Carmichael) smokes weed—Carmichael encourages folks to experiment with substances because “the more you know yourself, the more you know your limits.”


And then he lights up a blunt.

“Hey, friends,” the commentary begins. “When it comes to drugs and alcohol, there are three words that could save your life: ‘Just say when.’ Knowing your limits is an important part of being an adult. You want to do just enough to have fun at a party or be creative. But too much can send you down the wrong path. Use substances, don’t abuse substances. ’Cause the more you know yourself, the more you know your limits.”


Damn, I got to The Carmichael Show party late, and I’m going to really miss it. It was a sophisticated take on timely issues, without being pat or predictable, while managing to stay funny.

Maybe NBC (and its advertisers) can’t handle all that. Black folks on TV are just for stereotypical laughs, not nuanced, honest, uncomfortable thought, right?

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.



I really Carmichael and his stand-up work but never got into his sitcom. The cousin and his wife’s characterization was just this side of minstrelsy and most episodes boiled down to “Jerrod states his point of view. His dad or girlfriend states opposing view. His girlfriend or mother plays peacemaker. Everyone agrees that the issue is complicated. End.”