Instilled in us from a young age: America is a “melting pot.” It is where many different ethnicities coexist and live every day. American citizens have the unique ability to be anything they want to be and the freedoms to do it. This is one reason many people come here, after all, chasing what is supposed to be the American Dream. For Garrett Modi (Kal Penn), that dream comes crashing down abruptly.
He goes from being the youngest councilman in New York City ever to being unemployed and all over the media. Glitz and glamour aren’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially in the world of politics.
Who, What, and Where
From the mind of Kal Penn and Matt Murray, Sunnyside takes place in Queens. Penn also stars as the lead in the show. It also stars Diana Maria Riva, Joel Kim Booster, Kiran Deol, Poppy Liu, Moses Storm, and Samba Schutte. This show follows Garrett Modi’s albeit comedic journey to redemption, where he strives to help immigrant hopefuls fulfill that American Dream.
I was interested in this show for two reasons. The first is because it is hard to sell me on humor. When I saw the trailer for this show, I was curious and most importantly, I laughed.
The second reason is that it focuses on the downward spiral of an elected official and the politics of today. You’re probably thinking… and that’s funny because? Granted, most people want to run away from anything in the news involving politics and immigration. However, I think this show is going to poke fun at what is otherwise a tiresome and dark topic. In my opinion, humor is usually a great anecdote to negatives in life. It also helps that Kal Penn has actual experience in the White House. I also spent my undergraduate internship in social work at an elected officials office, so I appreciate that aspect of the show, as well. I think; however, it’ll resonate with everyone.
After Thoughts: The Positive
Overall, I liked it. Sunnyside has the three-way punch: heart, heaviness, and humor.
First: the heart. Make no mistake: I am American, born and raised. As much as we boast about the American Dream, I think it is fair to say we know those words aren’t always true. But, there are other parts of this country that make America stand out and the show hits it perfectly. You see it from the moment the show starts all the way up to the very end. Those who tune in will see it, too.
For a comedy, this show touches upon something I think some comedies today miss. This may be because it is about politics, immigration, and how the two interact, but the show has its heavy points, granted (and as it should be) brief. It adds to the realism and authenticity of what the show is about.
And finally, humor. What would a comedy be without humor? This show pokes fun at everyone: from politicians, (there are some fantastic lines in the pilot) to Americans, to immigrants, and everything in between. One potential fear I had before I watched was this show might only cater to one specific group of people. This is not the case. For the heart and heaviness, the humor is the home run in the show. You will laugh, and I bet you find a character you relate to.
After Thoughts: Potential Negatives
The humor can be a bit over the top and sometimes is choppy. Some of the actors are young and stand out a bit compared to the veterans of the show. However, I think the second half of the pilot was much better than the first. And, if you overlook some of these potential negatives, I think you’ll find a similar thought to mine: this show has serious potential.
Timing: while the timing is perfect, how long will this sort of humor remain relevant? As the political landscape evolves and new issues arise, will the show still be funny in two to three years? This is something that might hurt viewership. Second, for those who are just flat out tired of even the words immigration and elected officials, this might turn them away too.
Rating: 7.5/10. I think the show has serious potential and if given a fair shot, it will do well.
You can catch Sunnyside on NBC, Thursdays at 9:30 pm eastern this fall.
Official Sunnyside Pilot Trailer:
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