United States of Al Tests the Limits of Good Representation | TV/Streaming


If the intent of “United States of Al” is to point out the contrasts and complexities of Afghan culture, and explore the fish-out-of-water strangeness of Al making a new life in Ohio, it needs to dig a little deeper. (And perhaps should have started with casting an Afghan actor as Al, rather than the Indian South African Kalyan.) Nothing about these first four episodes, though, suggests a willingness to move past the predictable pork/alcohol/sex jokes and into grappling with how a Middle Eastern and Muslim immigrant who spent years surrounded by war would adjust to American life. This series is called “United States of Al,” but the family who houses him are the real main characters. We see how the death of Lizzie’s fiancé in Afghanistan affected her, shifting her from a high-achieving student with a full ride to New York University to study art to a woman who spends her nights drinking and in strangers’ beds. We see how Riley’s tours affected him: his inability to hold down a job, his inability to stay loyal to his wife, his inability to deal with his ongoing purposelessness. 

But Al? The guy actually from Afghanistan, a country whose decades-long relationship with the United States has been one of corruption, mistreatment, and violence? Al seems perfectly fine, so utterly unfazed by his new life that the show almost seems to be suggesting war is a kind of natural state for the Middle East, and therefore easy to brush off and move past for people from that region. (Tell that to the millions displaced by the U.S. War on Terror, the collapse of Iraq, increased drone warfare under the Obama administration, and the Syrian Civil War.) At one point, Riley affectionately calls him a “clown,” and that’s exactly what this show makes Al. If the intent of “United States of Al” is to make Afghan people “nonthreatening” and to make the people who watch CBS sitcoms “tolerant,” I suppose this is one very grueling way to go about it. But so far, the extent of Al’s usefulness in the show ostensibly named after him is to function as something to laugh at, rather than someone. 

“United States of Al” begins by reuniting Riley and Al, who served for six years together in Afghanistan. It took Riley three years to strong-arm the U.S. government into signing Al’s Visa paperwork (federal foot dragging that put countless interpreters in danger during the Trump presidency and is still continuing now, under Biden), and now Al has arrived in Ohio to live with Riley’s family. (The fact that this show doesn’t do an “Al got detained at the airport” subplot is simultaneously a relief and also feels like a side stepping of a real issue that affects tons of Middle Eastern people traveling to this country!) Al is shocked to learn that Riley and his wife Vanessa are separated, and immediately volunteers to help them get back together, even if they’re both unwilling to do so. He also thinks Riley is too lax of a parent for Hazel (she won’t eat spinach, oh no!) and too disobedient of a son to Art (Riley doesn’t do chores in a timely fashion, oh no!); crazy how Afghan culture rigidly enforces generational piety, right? 

You can view the original article HERE.

Zahara Was Dropped Off At Spelman College By Her Mother, Angelina Jolie
Anne Heche ‘not expected to survive’ crash that left her with brain injury: Rep
Are the A League of Their Own Characters Real People?
Marshawn Lynch Reeked Of Booze, Said He Stole Car During DUI Arrest, Cops Say
A Gripping Blend of Crime, Romance, & Science Fiction
Joker 2 Gets $150M Budget, Will Feature ‘Complicated Musical Sequences’ With Lady Gaga
You Get Hurt or You Get Injured: J.J. Perry on Day Shift | Interviews
Hyperactive Aging Comedy Falls Flat
‘Home Alone’ meets ‘Spy Kids’
Michelle Branch announces separation from Patrick Carney – Music News
Musical Youth drummer Frederick Waite Jr. has died, aged 55
Megan Thee Stallion gearing up to drop new album – Music News
4 dollar deposit casino – Is this money enough to play in online casinos in Canada
Sources: Pats QB Jones expected to sit vs. Giants
Serena falls to Bencic, bids ‘goodbye’ to Toronto
How To Play Online Slots For Real Money
Surface Season 1 Episode 5 Review: It Comes In Waves
Anne Heche Movie Girl in Room 13 Still Set to Premiere on Lifetime Next Month After Recent Car Crash
Good Trouble Season 4 Episode 15 Review: You Know You Better Watch Out
George R.R. Martin Claims He Was ‘Out of the Loop’ for Later Game of Thrones Seasons
Halle Bailey’s White Slip Dress at a Variety Party
The Thongkini Trend Is the Celebrity Bikini Style of Summer
Best Affordable Linen Dresses | POPSUGAR Fashion
Best Coach Bags 2022 | POPSUGAR Fashion