Jerrod Carmichael is serving as the executive producer of comedian Lil’ Rel Howery’s new Fox comedy Rel. As you probably recall, The Carmichael Show, which NBC canceled, was a show that regularly agitated its audience by discussing highly politicized topics, including issues involving race. This prompted reporters to ask Carmichael during Rel‘s TCA presentation whether it would match up to The Carmichael Show concerning political boundary-pushing.
According to Deadline’s account, the answer appears to be that Rel will be a little like its NBC predecessor but function much more like a traditional sitcom. Carmichael gave an indication that Rel would be a little renegade, keeping in line with how Fox used to be as a network in its early days, citing that during Fox’s Barry Diller era, the network “really challenged and felt dangerous; there was stuff on there my mom wouldn’t let me watch. We want to contribute to that legacy.”
Instead of creating storylines in the same manner of The Carmichael Show, which used the hot-button issue of the day as a starting point for comedy–something former Carmichael Show co-executive producer and current Rel executive producer Mike Scully referenced–the situation part of the sitcom takes precedence before adding on any social or political overtones.
One Rel storyline includes Howery going to his usual laundromat, only to find a local gang has taken over, alluding to gang violence in Chicago. According to Howery, the generic setup keeps “the conversation honest” without veering into preachy overtones.
Sinbad, who plays Howery’s father, said the show would “sneak a punch in through comedy” by talking about tough subjects with a joke.
“We talk about age and skin color,” he said. “It’s the duty of comedy to touch about those things that people don’t want to talk about.”
Rel, based on Howery’s stand-up comedy and life experiences, comes to Fox September 9.