CBS’ New Comedy ‘United States of Al’ is off to a solid start! The show premiered with over 5 million total viewers, hitting #1 in its time period. The show centers around Riley, a Marine combat veteran struggling to readjust to civilian life, and his Afghani Interpreter, Al, who immigrates to live with him in Ohio, and start a new life in America.
On April 6th, The ViacomCBS Veterans Network hosted a panel discussion with Executive Producers Dave Goetsch, Maria Ferrari, Reza Aslan and Mahyad Tousi alongside Military Consultant, Chase Millsap; Actor, Parker Young (Playing Riley); Staff Writer and proud Marine Fiancée, Emily Ann Brandstetter; “No One Left Behind” spokesmen Janis Shinwari and James Miervaldis; and Naval Aviator, Bobby Telatovich. The panel discussion was moderated by Richard Jones, EVP, General Tax Counsel, and Chief Veteran Officer, ViacomCBS.
The creative team talked through the making of the show, building a diverse writer's room, assembling the cast, and telling authentic stories. They covered their personal connections to the show's material, as well as the steps behind the scenes for how the writers develop each episode. The panel went over well with the viewing audience. We pulled a selection of quotes from attendees:
Kerri Jeter, an Army Veteran, of Freedom Sisters Media, said, "My favorite part of this is that even though in war, enemies of war are dehumanized, this show covers the human experience, and shows that trauma/loss/issues of life are universal, and it’s a beautiful way to show that to the American people."
"I thought the panel was well done," Dylan Damboise, a Marine Veteran, said. "The panel of experts, and the way they incorporated storytellers with lived experience relevant to their content was really inspiring, and showed that they put the work in to do right by the community."
"The United States of Al is doing a lot of cultural work. It will help open the door for future veteran storytellers and contribute to the diversity of shown veteran experiences in film and TV," said Melanie Corinne, a Marine Veteran. "I look forward to seeing how everyone plays out."
"This show makes me proud to be an employee of ViacomCBS – for bringing this perspective of Veterans lives post-war and specifically war translators to the masses. Can’t wait to see more!" -Shannon Guarascio
“A hero isn't measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart. God Bless our veterans." -Felly Isaac