Last night, Showtime unexpectedly uploaded the very first episode of Sacha Baron Cohen's new comedy series, Who Is America?, and already the takes are flying fast and furious. Is it a waste of everyone's time? A long-awaited return to form from the guy once considered the king of razor-sharp social satire?
I found the episode to be something of a mixed bag. The opening bit, which finds new Cohen character Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr. interviewing Bernie Sanders, doesn't really add up to much. A later segment, wherein Cohen plays a recently-released convict by the name of Ricky Sherman, feels like it takes way too long to arrive at its admittedly jaw-dropping conclusion (I won't spoil the moment here). Cohen's third character, a self-loathing cisgender white liberal snowflake named Nira Cain-N’Degeocello, offers up a few laughs but also feels a bit on the half-baked side.
Then the premiere arrives at its high point: a segment involving a character by the name of Erran Morad, the host of an exceptionally pro-gun program by the name of Kill or Be Killed. With his freakish lantern jaw and an outspoken dedication to stopping anti-gun nuts "before they kill everybody", Morad is a truly grotesque character, and the hijinks he gets into with Gun Owners of America founder Larry Pratt and a number of U.S. congressmen really must be seen to be believed.
Here's the entire segment. You should watch it.
Well, now we know why Joe Walsh was so determined to get out in front of this thing.
Walsh comes off looking bad here - virtually no one appearing in this segment emerges unscathed - but it's Philip Van Cleave (of the Virginia Citizens Defense League) who truly humiliates himself. In a sane world, Van Cleave's willingness to sing a song encouraging children to play with uzis and rocket-propelled grenade launchers would've cost him his job hours after this episode arrived online. But we're not living in a sane world; if anything, I expect to hear this chucklehead's received some kind of promotion.
What did you folks think of this first episode? Into it? Not so much? Still on the fence? Sound off in the comments below, and stay tuned for more on Who Is America? as it becomes available.