'United States of Al' Changes Premiere to Address Afghanistan Exit and Aftermath

The writers behind Chuck Lorre's latest CBS sitcom, United States of Al, have rewritten the Season 2 premiere to reflect the drastic changes in the lead character's home country of Afghanistan in the real world. The show stars former Rules of Engagement actor Adhir Kalyan as an Afghan interpreter, who lives in Ohio with a Marine combat veteran he worked with in Afghanistan. The show's premiere will address the U.S. withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, which is now controlled by the Taliban.

"Chuck Lorre and his gifted team of writers and actors, some of whom are veterans, some natives of Afghanistan, some with deep ties to the country, have been working hard to find the appropriate tone as the show moves forward,' CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl said during the network's virtual Television Critics Association press tour panel on Thursday, reports Deadline. "The team penned an entirely new first episode that will address current events. It's shooting right now, we've read the script and seen the table read and I believe it will be a very powerful and moving episode of television, of which I expect everyone involved will be very proud." The new episode will be taped this week and will air on Thursday, Oct. 7, reports TVLine.

United States of Al was created by David Goetsch and Maria Ferrari and counts Lorre as an executive producer. In the series, Kalyan plays Awalmir "Al" Karimi, an Afghan interpreter who lives with Riley (Parker Young), a Marine combat veteran Al served with in Afghanistan. Al moves in with Riley with father Art (Dean Norris) and sister Lizzie (Elizabeth Alderfer). When the show was announced, it was widely criticized for featuring Kalyan, a South African-born Indian actor, but Goetsch defended the show by noting it features two Afghan-American actors, an Afghan writer, and two Iranian-American executive producers (including author Reza Aslan). Afghan actors Sitara Attaie, Wali Habib, and Zarmina Hamidi will return in Season 2 as Hassina, Zubair, and Gul Bashar, respectively.

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Earlier this week, U.S. Marine veteran Chase Millsap, who serves as a writer on Al, revealed in a Hollywood Reporter op-ed that the team behind the show helped Afghans escape the Taliban. "Narratives have power. They help define who we are as a nation. Being a military consultant and writer on United States of Al hasn't been just about showing an actor how to wear a uniform or hold a weapon," Millsap wrote. "It's reminding our writers that our characters represent real people, real stories, and the real consequences of war." The first season of United States of Al is available to stream on Paramount+. Season 2 premieres on Thursday, Oct. 7 at 8:30 p.m. ET, following Young Sheldon.