Jump to content
Forums forums
PRIMETIMER
DanaK

United States Of Al

Recommended Posts

CBS comedy by Chuck Lorre, Thursday’s, 8:30pm, premiered last night. About a former Marine who was stationed in Afghanistan struggling to work through issues while welcoming his Afghan interpreter who he got into the US

I thought the pilot and the cast were pretty charming, including the guy playing Al, while awkward and kind of shaky as is usual for a pilot. There are several Afghan writers on staff and Afghan actors in the cast, though Al is played by an Indian actor

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post

I liked it.  The show had some decent jokes (kind of a modern take on "Perfect Strangers") but also touched on some interesting real-life issues with vets returning home from war.  I'll definitely watch it again, and I'm glad they moved the MUCH less watchable "B Positive" to make room for this show.

  • Like 4
  • Surprise 1

Share this post


Link to post

Though they are clearly trying to properly represent the Afghan and Muslim experience, especially with Afghan writers and producers, I do wish they had cast an Afghan for the role of Al (the actor is a South African of Indian heritage) to be more authentic. An interview with either the actor or the show creators suggested it was hard to cast narrowly for a role they felt required experience and some other qualities. They may be right but maybe they should have cast a little closer to home. The show has gotten some controversy, with pushback from Afghan activists that it may not properly show the Afghan experience, though some of the criticism has been based partly on the trailer

Similar to "Mom" and some other sitcoms, it's a comedic show with some heavy elements, including Riley being a Marine with PTSD and Al and Riley having gone through some harrowing experiences in Afghanistan

Also, I rather liked Riley's estranged wife Vanessa and she only had one scene I think. There were some weighty topics in that discussion between the two of them

Edited by DanaK
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

I liked some of the moments, and I really believe and appreciate the bond between the two men. However, the pilot is giving me an uneasy feeling the show concept simply substitutes a "Magical Muslim" into the old literature/media "Magical Negro" trope. I really don't want Al's sole purpose to be solving all of the problems his American friends are experiencing, teaching them to be better people through the sharing of his cultural wisdom and insights. I'd like to see that Al doesn't solely exist as instructor/mentor/guru for Riley and his family - give me some deeper insight into who Al is as a person, and some focus on his journey and personal growth in America. If the series sticks with the "I'm so grateful to you for bringing me here, I'm going to devote my life to fixing you" primary motivation for Al, I don't know how long I'll stay interested.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
5 hours ago, Gregg247 said:

 kind of a modern take on "Perfect Strangers"

Perfect Strangers is the first thing I thought of, too.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I kind of loved it. I like the actor who played Al; he played Timmy on "Rules of Engagement." I don't have an issue that he's not Afghan; that's why it's called "acting."

The actor who plays Riley was also on "Enlisted," a short-lived comedy on Fox. If I recall, he was the dimwitted brother soldier. (Plus, he's easy on the eyes.)

I thought they hit some pretty heavy topics, which I liked. I work with veterans who have PTSD, and a lot of what they (and their spouses) have told me sounds exactly like what Riley and his wife are going through.

I'd rather the "Magic Muslim" than the stereotype of the "Terrorist Muslim."

  • Like 8

Share this post


Link to post

31 minutes ago, SmithW6079 said:

 (Plus, he's easy on the eyes.)

I appreciated the gratuitous shot of Riley in his boxers. The actor who plays the dad has great timing. They showed his best lines in the commercials but I still laughed. I too hope they flesh Al out more completely.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
19 minutes ago, Grizzly said:

I appreciated the gratuitous shot of Riley in his boxers. The actor who plays the dad has great timing. They showed his best lines in the commercials but I still laughed. I too hope they flesh Al out more completely.

For any Breaking Bad fans - you go, Hank!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

I found it deeply uncomfortable. Al really did seem like a wind-up toy, more for entertainment than a real person. He was so bubbly and happy, for a guy who spent six years running for his life. It's hard to laugh at the jokes he makes, considering you know he has family who could be brutally killed.

Also, you have to believe he's a bit more intelligent than someone who thinks you can bite fruit and not have to pay for it. 

If you want a show that does Muslims well, Little Mosque on the Prairie was so much better. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
On 4/2/2021 at 10:07 PM, SmithW6079 said:

The actor who plays Riley was also on "Enlisted," a short-lived comedy on Fox. If I recall, he was the dimwitted brother soldier. (Plus, he's easy on the eyes.)

He was also the handsome, but insanely dumb, jock neighbor boy on Suburgatory. That was another fun show that ended too soon.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post

http://www.thefutoncritic.com/showatch/united-states-of-al/listings/
 

They flipped last night’s episode’s and next week’s episode’s airdates. Makes sense because the “marriage counseling” storyline continued. Honestly Al needs to cut out that crap. It’s getting old already. But I guess that’s who he is. Can’t wait to meet Hazel. I loved the Art/Lizzie dynamic and the three year flashback at the end so we got to see what Michael was like.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

1 hour ago, nelroy78 said:

http://www.thefutoncritic.com/showatch/united-states-of-al/listings/
 

They flipped last night’s episode’s and next week’s episode’s airdates. Makes sense because the “marriage counseling” storyline continued. Honestly Al needs to cut out that crap. It’s getting old already. But I guess that’s who he is. Can’t wait to meet Hazel. I loved the Art/Lizzie dynamic and the three year flashback at the end so we got to see what Michael was like.

The Art/Lizzie scenes were the best part of the episode, as was the flashback. I was not quite expecting the dad to be so loving and gentle given how he seemed to come across in the pilot.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post

Tuned into this for 3 reasons:  Dean Norris, it’s a Chuck Lorre show, and Dean Norris. Both last week and this, shut it halfway through. Just can’t stand the writing and the stilted performances of said writing (except of course for Dean Norris 😏). [I’ve been a fan of his since he played Hank in BB.] I’ll cut a show some slack until it finds its legs, but I’m not sure about this one (even if it does feature Dean Norris 🙂).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I wonder if Al's relentless cheerfulness is not a reaction to growing up in a war-torn country. Has there ever been a time when Afghanistan wasn't involved in conflict past 50 years? Perhaps it is his way of dealing with PTSD, in contrast to the way Riley deals with his. At first I would have pegged Al as being in his mid- to late 20s, but the actor is late 30s, so I don't know how old Al is supposed to be on the show.

While he may be meddling in Riley's marriage, perhaps it's because of his sense of obligation to him for getting Al out of Afghanistan, although I guess you could argue that Riley was the one under obligation, since Al was risking his life and the lives of his family to be an interpreter for the Americans. Then again, Al could consider Riley family.

According to the website Cultural Atlas: 

Quote

One’s family is the single most important aspect of life in Afghanistan. Afghan culture is very collectivistic and people generally put their family’s interests before their own. This means that family responsibilities tend to hold a greater importance than personal needs. Loyalty to one’s family also generally supersedes any obligations to one’s tribe or ethnicity.

The sister's storyline was gut-wrenching; I think there's going to be a lot of that in this show. She's not coping with her grief and the ramifications of Operation Enduring Freedom. Seeing the flashback of the two couples hanging out at the bar and knowing that within three years, the fiancé will be killed in action was sobering.

   

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...

Customize font-size