Tell CBS that ‘United States of Al’ is an unfair representation of Afghans

Tell CBS that ‘United States of Al’ is an unfair representation of Afghans

0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!
Professor Comrade started this petition to CBS and

We are calling for a boycott of United States of Al, a cease in its production, and for it to be canceled as a whole. Please sign this petition and share it with your community. 

The issues with United States of Al are as follows: 

1.WAR PROPAGANDA: United States of Al is a sitcom about Riley, a U.S. Marine veteran who sponsors his Afghan interpreter friend, Awalmir (Al), to live with him in Ohio. Al is ever-cheerful, recounting his memories of war with a smile. By writing his character in this way, the writers absolve Afghans of all negative qualities to make him faultless which dehumanizes him. Furthermore, portraying an Afghan whose main characteristic is a victim of war rather than the main perpetrator still strips Afghans of their agency and perpetrates imperialism. Additionally, producer Reza Aslan calls U.S. of Al a “brown savior”* show, thereby pinning Al as the magical brown character who will solve all the problems of his white friends. 

This show is not for Afghans. It is for those who want to feel good about their American government and their voting histories. 

2. HISTORY OF THE CREATORS: United States of Al is created by Chuck Lorre, Maria Ferrari, and David Goetsche. The three are responsible for Big Bang Theory's Raj, an Indian character defined by his inability to speak to women for several seasons due to his debilitating anxiety around them. The show was also known for its oftentimes sexist and ablist portrayals, and absence of Black characters.** The team’s portrayal of Raj and other characters shows that they cannot approach subtlety or nuance in writing an Afghan character. 

3. THE PRODUCERS’ RESPONSE TO CONCERNS:  The executive producers of the show are Reza Aslan and Mahyad Tousi. As an Iranian-American, Aslan said, he could relate to the frustrations of the Afghan community. While we encourage and appreciate Iranians who advocate for Afghans, we ask: where was Aslan to advocate for Afghans before he decided to produce a show about it? There is a false assumption of a shared experience based on being brown. Furthermore, the producers encouraged Afghans to share their thoughts on the show, but when Afghans disputed with them on Twitter, all they had to offer was condescending retorts- if that even- countless emails, tweets, and Instagram messages were ignored. 

4. AFGHAN INVOLVEMENT: Amidst the controversy surrounding the show, the showrunners keep pointing to Afghans on the writing staff to absolve any criticism. However, there are no Afghans involved at the highest level of the show. They are overseen by non-Afghans. We do not begrudge any of the Afghan writing staff for using this show to further their career or thinking it could produce some forward momentum for Afghans. However, the notion of compromise for incremental progress is misguided at best and dishonest at worst because the show, at its core, is normalizing the violence inflicted upon the land and people of Afghanistan. 

Unlike what United States of Al suggests, we reject the notion that Afghanistan is purely an arena for war and the assumption that Afghans solely exist in relation to the US military. Afghans are not dehumanized objects who are only ever shot down and unable to lift themselves up. We will not settle for this dehumanization and caricature.

For the reasons outlined above, we feel this show is irredeemable as the very premise is objectionable. No amount of revision will fix the underlying issue. Therefore, we call for the cancellation of United States of Al by CBS. 




*: “It’s actually a brown savior show but you do you dude.” - Reza Aslan


0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!