CBS Pulls the Plug on Military Veteran Comedy 'United States of Al'

United States of Al
Adhir Kalyan as Al and Parker Young as Riley on the series "United States of Al." (Courtesy of CBS Entertainment/CBS)

It turns out that America just doesn't care about the adventures of Marine and combat veteran Riley Dugan (played by Parker Young) and Awalmir Karimi (Adhir Kalyan), the Afghan interpreter who immigrated to the USA after saving Riley's life during the war. CBS canceled the series centered on the two after just two seasons.

Over its 35 episodes, the series had to contend with a civilian viewership who didn't much care about the war in Afghanistan, plus the end of that war and the crisis that messy withdrawal created for the military interpreters who inspired the show in the first place.

Related: How a 2021 TV Comedy Predicted the Afghanistan Translator Crisis

"United States of Al" consistently tried to transcend the "Odd Couple" genre of two best friends with clashing personalities to tell stories inspired by real issues in the active-duty and veteran communities. Over the show's brief life, Riley began to confront his post-traumatic stress and the fallout from his condition on his family. Riley's sister, Lizzie (Elizabeth Alderfer), was a military spouse whose husband was killed in the war, and their dad, Art (Dean Norris), was a veteran who had to learn that his son's generation experienced service in a far different way than he had.

Young previously starred in the Fox military comedy "Enlisted," which ran for a single season in 2014. Its ratings were terrible, far worse than those for "United States of Al." Since then, the show has been streaming on Hulu and found a passionate audience in the military community. Some have even asked me when Hollywood is going to make another show like "Enlisted"? Well, they did make one, and it aired Thursday nights after "Young Sheldon," but not enough people tuned in to impress the suits at CBS.

You can watch the series finale on Thursday, May 19, 2022, on CBS. If you're a "SEAL Team" fan who was willing to pay for a subscription, the entire series is streaming on Paramount+. "United States of Al" was a rare piece of mainstream entertainment that wanted to educate the civilian public about military life while making its audience laugh. We'll miss it.

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