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CBS pulled this week's rerun of United States of Al: Does the Afghanistan War interpreter sitcom have an uncertain future following Taliban takeover?

  • A CBS spokesperson told Vice the network decided to pull the rerun “out of sensitivity to current events.” According to Vice's Ashwin Rodrigues, "on Monday night at 9:30 p.m. Eastern, CBS viewers expected to see a rerun of United States of Al, the show executive-produced by Chuck Lorre about a U.S. marine named Riley and his Afghan interpreter, Awalmir, adjusting to civilian life in America. Instead, viewers got a rerun of Bob Hearts Abishola, another Chuck Lorre-produced show about a white 'compression sock businessman' who falls in love with his nurse after being hospitalized for a heart attack. Many people probably did not notice that United States of Al did not air, given the real-life events occurring on Monday and the days prior: After years of U.S. military occupation, the Taliban was in the process of capturing cities across Afghanistan, and the Internet was flooded with images of citizens of the country trying to flee to safety. Given the already shaky reputation of the show, which has proved controversial for papering over a war that killed over 70,000 Afghan civilians, it is difficult to imagine United States of Al airing alongside the real-life images of horror that were coming out of Afghanistan, including photos of Afghans desperately chasing a transport plane departing from Hamid Karzai international Airport and trying to hang onto the outside, with three people falling to their death from hundreds of feet in the air. This was no time for comedy, and the show’s treatment of America’s relationship with Afghanistan has certainly been cringe-inducingly tone-deaf at times, if not flat-out offensive: In one scene, which aired in April, Riley explains the Burning Man festival as a bunch of Americans setting a place on fire and then leaving. Al jokingly asks if Riley is trying to make him homesick." Rodrigues adds: " The spokesperson did not respond to questions as to how the show plans to address the current chaos in Afghanistan, or if the show would continue as planned. Still, the pulled episode raised a question: Can a light comedic TV show that touches on the war in Afghanistan exist at the same time as these events?" 

    TOPICS: United States of Al, CBS, Afghanistan War