Sarah Silverman’s new Hulu show looks so dumb. She says herself that it’s dumb in the Jimmy Fallon interview below, so I don’t think I’m making too contentious a judgment here. It’s called I Love You, America and it’s a quasi-reality quasi-talk show where Silverman goes around the country getting to know people who are different from her, for instance, Trump voters and people who have never met Jews, which is the polite Hollywood way of saying racists and anti-Semites without admitting that anyone’s putting racists and anti-Semites in their comedy show. Here’s what Silverman said about the show at a panel in July:
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.’”
“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.”
Hulu hasn’t put out any screeners or trailer for the show, which premieres next week, so I can’t speak to much more than what she’s said. But what she’s said is a crock. We’re all the same, huh? Ahhh, if only anyone had mentioned that before, if only someone had exposed how we’re all the same, had done a Hulu show interviewing conservatives so liberals could understand conservatives, could finally understand that nobody is different, that white supremacy is no more complicated than people being confused, then and only then could we have stopped the forces of bigotry and misogyny that put a deranged racist billionaire in the White House. How easy it would have been!
Comedy isn’t gonna change the world. I don’t think anyone really wants comedy to change the world, though I do appreciate what Jimmy Kimmel’s done for us in the last couple weeks. Still, it’s so frustrating to see rich and famous comedians indulge the delusion that we can heal the nation if the left just tries to understand the right. Which is what this show is about, however much she harps on the language of “both sides.” She’s right that facts don’t change minds… on one side of the divide, the side she’s putting on TV to gently scold the other side for not doing the work she’s brave enough to do for us. But it’s a lazy, half-assed job. I hope I’ll be proven wrong in the coming weeks, but it does not appear she’s devoted any episodes to, say, undocumented immigrants or labor organizers. That’s par for the course with talk shows hosted by liberal comedians, and it reflects a stunning lack of empathy and imagination. If you’re interested in changing people, maybe you could give some airtime to the side that isn’t fundamentally opposed to progress? Just a thought.
But of course Silverman isn’t interested in changing people, she’s interested in telling fart jokes. Here she is in a thoughtful, detailed New York Times profile this morning:
In Louisiana, a female Trump voter complained that President Barack Obama gave away “handouts,” while her family talked about being on Medicaid. Ms. Silverman spends more time listening than fact-checking, which may not satisfy liberals who delight in seeing John Oliver or Samantha Bee eviscerate conservatives. At the same time, it’s hard to see Trump voters thinking this segment is for them either.
[...] Reflecting on her interactions with the family in Louisiana, Ms. Silverman said that she had a good time and found agreement on some issues, like same-sex marriage. When asked if this visit made her more hopeful for change, Ms. Silverman weighed her words carefully. “What makes me hopeful is when you’re face to face you can still enjoy and respect each other,” she said. “Did we change minds? No.”
Does it make you hopeful that the family of Obama-hating Trump voters enjoyed and respected Sarah Silverman, rich famous funny white TV star? It does not make me hopeful. It makes me feel gross and sad. This is a show for nobody that will do nothing, and worse, a show that has already admitted its vague, platitudinous mission is wholly superficial. What a waste.
Seth Simons is Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Follow him on Twitter.