Will This TV Comedy About a Marine Veteran and His Afghan Interpreter Get Anything Right?

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United States of Al Adhir Kalyan and Parker Young
Adhir Kalyan and Parker Young star in the comedy series "United States of Al." (CBS)

If you were expecting the upcoming CBS series “United States of Al” to deliver an edgy, truth-to-power comedy about the trials of Afghanistan war veterans, the show’s first trailer is here and ready to give you the straight dope.

Nope, our first look at the show suggests that it’s a broad, fish-out-of-water farce about an optimistic immigrant who’s dreamed of America, only to face the reality of actually living here.

Check out the trailer below.

We open with a Costco joke, a “Muslims don’t drink alcohol” joke and an “Americans need to respect their parents'' joke. The humor is all pretty obvious, and everyone’s delivering lines like lives are at stake if the jokes don’t land.

Let’s hope CBS is trying to get its regular viewers to tune in before digging a little deeper into the relationship between a veteran and the interpreter he’s helped immigrate to the United States.

The show’s main players include Dean Norris (“Breaking Bad”) as the possibly reactionary dad, Parker Young (“Enlisted”) as Marine vet Riley and Adhir Kalyan (“Rules of Engagement”) as former interpreter Awalmir (aka Al). None of these performers would have signed up for a middle-of-the-road, unambitious show, so maybe we should give them a few episodes to reveal their plan.

Anyone who’s worked with interpreters in a war zone knows those relationships are far more complex than the one portrayed here. Deciding to work with an invading force is a risky, possibly life-threatening choice, and the Afghans (and Iraqis) who worked with U.S. forces often had complicated reasons to make that decision.

That’s not to mention the burden that Riley may be carrying from his own combat service. Why did his marriage fall apart when he came home, and what’s his continuing attachment to Al?

Executive producer Chuck Lorre has managed to work some heavier themes into his CBS show “Mom,” so perhaps “United States of Al” will go a little deeper than the trailer suggests.

“United States of Al” premieres on CBS on Thursday, April 1.

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