Sarah Silverman says that she briefly considered calling a segment of her new Hulu news-variety show “Sympathy for the Devil,” since her goal for the program is to connect with people from all political backgrounds—even if she is a liberal feminist comedian.
“In a way, the thesis of the show is everybody just wants to be loved,” Silverman said during a panel on Thursday at Hulu’s Television Critics Association press day. “We all love our families, we all care about our friends, we all have embarrassing, humiliating stories that involve shitting.”
This might explain why her show, which premieres on October 12, has the very earnest title of I Love You, America. Below are a few other things we learned about it.
“The pitch was great… we said all these brilliant shows that are appointment television for me are great, but they’re really connected with more like-minded people… I’m hoping to, with this show, connect with un-like-minded people,” Silverman says. “It’s a fun challenge and, what I kind of realized is, it doesn’t have to be a deep moment we did where we connected with these people and it’s really smart and moving. I feel like the reaction to that, if I were the audience, would be ‘fuck you.’”
She says she wanted to make a show that’s “funny and silly and aggressively dumb.” That’s her favorite kind of comedy. If anything smart is in the show, it “will be served with a big, fat bready sandwich—super, super dumb.”
“It’s not like we deal with politics or politicians,” Silverman says. “The way in which it’s political is everything is political right now… just by virtue of it being made in this moment in time, everything is political.”
Gavin Purcell, the showrunner and executive producer, stressed that it’s really “about people.”
“Part of it is about how people are right now,” he says. “We’re going to out in the field and Sarah’s going to meet people. That’s important too: getting out there and meeting people who are different, but not doing it for the sake of them being different. We’re meeting them as people.”
For instance, says Silverman, an episode will take her to Slidell, Louisiana, where she’ll have dinner with a family who hadn’t met a Jewish person before her.
“I’m not looking to make them look like assholes,” Silverman says. “A mission statement for the show, with these field pieces, is exposing that we’re all the same.”
“We may be listening to two different sets of lies right now and we may be getting our facts from two very different places at a time when truth has no currency and facts don’t change minds,” she says. “But I think comedy can get people’s porcupine needles to go down and intellect can happen.”
“We’re really trying to see America as a geographic place,” Purcell says. “We really want to… go to places where we’re not comfortable.”
“It’s going to be studio pieces [too],” Silverman says. “There will be a monologue, which has organically become this train of thought as the way the brain works and jumps from one thing to the next.”
There will also what she says a “focus group of 12 people from all different walks of life” in the audience who will “be where a house band” traditionally sit. These will be real people with their own personalities, which fans can see if they follow them online.
“We’re not going to be doing stuff about what happened last night,” Purcell says.
“Everyone out here is from somewhere else,” Silverman says. “There’s a lot of thought in saying the ‘Hollywood Elite’ over and over again.”
Adam McKay, who executive produces the show, points out that this is a recurring theme. His agent was also Donald Trump’s agent; Ronald Reagan was once an actor.
“We’re the elites until we’re not,” he says. “I think one of the things about this show is we want to get back to a grounded place. We’re not looking at right versus left; we’re looking at corruption versus honesty. We’re looking at the good of the whole versus the good of the few. What’s happened in this country with the right versus the left is it’s the greatest scam in the world. If you want to pickpocket someone, what’s the best way to do it? You invent fights where everyone turns their heads and then you grab it.”
And producer Amy Zvi argues that one of the reasons that Silverman is the best for this kind of job is that she’s been trolled online so much that she’s learned how to relate to people.
No. “There are tweets that shake my foundation,” she says.
Whitney Friedlander is an entertainment journalist with, what some may argue, an unhealthy love affair with her TV. A former staff writer at both Los Angeles Times and Variety, her writing has also appeared in Esquire, Elle, Complex, Vulture, Marie Claire, Toronto Star and others. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and very photogenic cat.