The more difficult topics in life seem to be a little easier to swallow when paired with comedy. Chuck Lorre, a staple of the sitcom world, has certainly shown that he can mix more difficult storylines with comedic undertones with shows like “Mom” and now “United States of Al”. In the new show on CBS, a Marine combat veteran (Parker Young) returns home to Ohio to live with his father (Dean Norris). Along with Riley comes Al (Adhir Kalyan), the interpreter who served with his unit in Afghanistan and has just arrived to start a new life in America. It’s a multi-camera sitcom, something Lorre has become a household name for, but it’s also based on real and actual stories of soldiers and performers themselves.
The show received comments on both ends of the spectrum due to the casting, but the show’s creators have stayed true to the fact that they are doing portrayal and real people stories come to life through a point. of comic view.
For Dean Norris, who plays the patriarchal figure Art on the show, this mix of real life with lighter touches allows us to focus on what we all want and need in good times and bad – family, biological or no. Norris explored what motivated the work on “United States of Al”.
What made you want to sign up for this show?
Well, first of all, I wanted to do a comedy. I never did a sitcom before ‘Big Bang Theory’, which Chuck Lorre called me and asked me to do. When I found out that “Claws” was ending, literally a few weeks later, they called and said they had a role on this show. I wanted to do a sitcom with a little something, and when I read it, it was fantastic. I loved the military subject dealing with the Afghan performer and felt it really was a show that could be as important as it was funny – this is something that Chuck Lorre got involved in. with “ mom ” and alcohol addiction and things like that. So it looked good to me, it looked like a character I could do and it looked fun.
What do you have to say about staring in a multi-camera sitcom versus a show like “Breaking Bad”?
Yeah, I mean he’s really a whole different animal. As a member of the profession, and there’s no particular reason to do it, I just think it’s fun to say, hey, there’s a whole new thing I would love to try. I was lucky enough to do a great cable drama show like “Breaking Bad”, I think it would be really interesting to say that I also got to do a great network sitcom with the best of the best, Chuck Lorre. It’s a feather in the cap.
What can you tell me about your character on the show?
He is a veteran himself, he is widowed and his son, Riley, returns from the war in Afghanistan as a Navy and he has a lot of problems with PTSD and problems with his marriage. Riley ends up living with her father, me, in the garage, and I also have my daughter who lost her husband in the war… She goes through a lot of problems and she also lives with me. I wouldn’t say it’s dysfunctional, because he’s really kind of the glue that holds his two kids together. They return to the nest and Art has to somehow be the type helping them get their lives back.
This being based on true stories of Afghan performers and soldiers, why do you think a sitcom is the right place for this plot?
Well, there could be many places for this plot. But I think when you look at the history of sitcoms, they’ve really been one of the main drivers of change in our culture. Somehow we Americans are able to understand and understand certain issues if they are done with a comedy. I think that’s what the idea of this show was – to tackle a pretty serious problem and maybe an issue that hasn’t been fully resolved or addressed. It might be too harsh to make it happen with a drama or something or someone else might make that choice to do it. But I think CBS and Chuck Lorre doing it on a sitcom really gets into the heart of American culture.
Were there any things to take away from the show for you personally?
There are several of them. First of all, the main topic to be completely honest with you, I didn’t realize there was an interpretation problem in Afghanistan. These are people who really put their lives on the line to help the American soldiers and we left them there. When you start to read about it it’s pretty deep and I hope it could shed some light on it … To have faster access to our country to save their lives that would be fantastic. Plus I think it’s an interesting take on the fish out of the water situation where you have this Afghan performer living in America and the humor comes from him looking at America and going wow, what a place strange. It’s really the guy looking at us and leaving oh, is that really a way of life? For example, there is an episode where he goes to meet the neighbors, and what are we going there? We don’t talk to neighbors, and it’s like in Afghani that all the neighbors know each other and we help each other. There are a lot of elements like this where you see the humanity and the lack of humanity in American culture that could perhaps be helped or at least addressed or examined.
Do you think the themes of family and the need for connection displayed on the show will resonate more with audiences now after the pandemic?
I think it could be a real thing, yeah. Really, at the heart of all great comedy are human beings who help each other out and help us get through life. Really, when you go beyond the story of the performer beyond the question of [him] coming to America is really about helping friends and family. My daughter in the story is in real pain, as is my son. By all coming together and supporting each other, we are helping each other through these really difficult days. I think this is something that can be told to anyone whether or not they’ve been at war – having a family helps you get through tough times, tough relationships, and tough times in your life, and we do it with humor. I think it’s something that anybody in the audience can understand and understand.
Catch “United States of Al” Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS.