Review: In ‘Reality Show,’ Jerrod Carmichael Is Out and Open

Midway through “Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show,” the comedian tries to convince Jamar Neighbors, his longtime friend and fellow standup, to deepen his act by using his unhappy past as material. Neighbors, who prefers an energetic, joke-focused performance (his act includes doing back flips onstage), is skeptical about what he calls “therapy comedy.” Why should he dwell on his foster mother, he asks, when “Jeff Bezos is going to space”?

“Yeah, but also Jeff Bezos is going to space because it’s some [expletive] he can’t talk to his mama about,” Carmichael says. “It always comes back to that. You’re not just going to space.”

In “Reality Show,” a captivating, introspective, sometimes uneasy docuseries beginning Friday on HBO, Carmichael does not go to space. But he does go boldly, siirt escort bayan
bringing family, friends and lovers on an exploration of what it means to live honestly and how it feels to deal with the repercussions.

In “Rothaniel,” his 2022 comedy special, Carmichael came out publicly as gay. But that intimate and revelatory show was about more than sexual identity. It was about secrets, not just Carmichael’s being gay (and its effect on his relationship with his conservative Christian mother, Cynthia), but also his family history of deceptions, including his father, Joe, having had a second family when Carmichael was young.

“Rothaniel” (the title comes from pervari escort Carmichael’s actual first name, which he also revealed) was in part about how even open secrets can be corrosive, about what living in a state of knowing-but-not-saying does to you.

“Reality Show” is an effort to undo that, in front of an omnipresent camera crew. The Carmichael that we see here is making up for lost time. “I came out late in life,” he says. “I was like basically 30. So I’m like, in gay years, I’m 17.”

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