United States of Al finished its second and final season last week, a few days after CBS canceled the series. The Ranch veteran Kelli Goss, who starred as Vanessa on the controversial sitcom, eulogized the series on Instagram Friday, reflecting on the lessons she learned from the series. United States of Al centered on the relationship between a combat veteran and his Afghan interpreter who moves in with him in Columbus, Ohio.
The series was created by David Goetsch and Maria Ferrari and starred Adhir Kalyan as interpreter Awalmir "Al" Karimi and Parker Young as Marine veteran Riley. When Riley returns home, he lets Al move in with him and his father Art (Dean Norris). Al tries to help Riley by reuniting him with his estranged wife Vanessa and their daughter Hazel (Farrah Mackenzie). The series also featured Elizabeth Adferfer as Riley's sister Lizzie.
The day after the final episode aired, Goss shared photos from the set, as well as a video showing all the preparations the cast went through to film during the coronavirus pandemic. "It's never easy to say goodbye to a TV family but even more heartbreaking when you feel you were just getting started," Goss wrote.
"[United States of Al] introduced me to a world and culture I knew nothing about but welcomed me in to help tell the story," Goss continued. "Being an actor is constant education and the well of knowledge this show provided me is immeasurable and irreplaceable. I feel so honored to have been a part of delivering the veteran & veteran family's journey along with a loving & positive portrait of the Afghan experience to America through a sitcom."
Goss went on to thank the writers, CBS, and executive producer Chuck Lorre for casting her in the show. "I couldn't have been surrounded by a better cast and crew that were so considerate in their delivery and execution. I would've loved to have seen you all kill it in front of a live audience," Goss wrote, later adding that she was "pretty damn proud" of the series. She also thanked everyone for watching the show and reminded fans that it can still be found on Paramount+.
Before United States of Al debuted in April 2021, it garnered plenty of attention for its trailer. Critics weren't happy to see Kalyan, a South African-born Indian actor play an Afghan character. Producer Reza Aslan defended the show, and two Afghan-American writers and one Afghan writer were hired. Goetsch also said writers did extensive research with veterans and interpreters.
The show also had to grabble with the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan. In September 2021, CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl said the Season 2 premiere had to be completely rewritten in response to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Before the Season 2 premiere aired, writer and military consultant Chase Millsap wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, revealing that the staff helped evacuate Afghan refugees.
"Everyone on our United States of Al staff, including seven veterans and five Afghans, wanted to help as many people get out as we could," Millsap wrote. "We found ourselves living through our characters' worst fears. Staff members, who would've never met but for our work on the show, came together to get as many people out of Afghanistan as we could."