On Wednesday, NBC declined to air a new episode of the issues-driven sitcom The Carmichael Show about the aftermath of a mass shooting after two shootings earlier in the day — one in Virginia that injured four including the House Majority Whip and left the assailant dead and one in San Francisco in which four people were killed.
That same day, creator and star Jerrod Carmichael taped an appearance on the Netflix talk show Chelsea in which he expressed disappointment and frustration with NBC for considering pulling the episode, which it did later that day, in which Carmichael's character witnesses a mass shooting.
"I thought that episode would have an opportunity to talk about these tragedies in a meaningful way, to really lend itself to conversation," Carmichael told host Chelsea Handler. "A lot of times when things like this happen and someone wants to talk about it in an outlet that's not the news, people will say 'too soon.' But when is it not too soon? Unfortunately, these things happen constantly and it's a thing that breaks all of our hearts."
He explained that the episode dealt with the pain and fear that Americans feel when shootings happen, since acts of violence like this could happen to anyone at any time.
"I understand a corporation making that decision," Carmichael said about NBC's decision to pull the episode, "but really, to me, what it says is that you don't think America is smart enough to handle real dialogue and something that reflects real family conversations and something that feels honest and true and still respects the victims. We handled the episode with as much love and integrity as we could. To pull that is just criminal. It does a disservice to the viewer, it does a disservice to you, it does a disservice to all of us."
It remains to be seen whether the episode, called "Shoot-up-able," will air this season. On Wednesday NBC instead aired an episode called "Lesbian Wedding," which was originally scheduled for June 28.
This is not the first time an episode — or a whole series — has been pulled after it was deemed too close to reality. Last summer, Shooter's premiere was pushed back to the fall after shootings in Baton Rouge and Dallas, and in 1999 an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayerwas postponed for months after the Columbine massacre due to a school shooting plot, among many other examples.
Carmichael's full appearance on Chelsea will air Friday.
The Carmichael Show airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on NBC.