Matthew Cherry DirectsTimely Episode Of ‘The Unicorn’

Written by on December 4, 2020

Written by Dustin Seibert

The “very particular” episode of any sitcom is a relic of days previous, without end relegated to our favourite exhibits which have handed into syndication heaven (or Hell, relying in your perspective). It’s, nevertheless, arguably ill-conceived to shoot new sitcom episodes in 2020 whereas fully disregarding the numerous topical points the yr has wrought.

Such was the mindset of the solid and writers of CBS’s “The Unicorn”, which filmed a part of its second season in the summertime of 2020, throughout an unprecedented social rebellion on account of the demise of George Floyd by white police officer Derek Chauvin. “Unicorn” star Omar Miller requested the author’s room if that they had any plans to handle the protests, to which author Howard Jordan, Jr., who’s Black, pitched his idea: White individuals going through their privilege whereas additionally working in direction of a  higher understanding of their allyship for his or her Black buddies. 

Not solely was the subject greenlit, however producers requested Matthew Cherry to return to the director’s chair after helming an episode of the pilot season. A former NFL participant turned movie author, director and producer, Cherry nabbed an Academy Award for his Issa Rae-voiced 2019 animated quick movie Hair Lovewhich is being transformed right into a miniseries for HBO. 

RELATED: ‘Hair Love’ Director Matthew A. Cherry Predicted He Would Win An Oscar Years Ago

RELATED: Matthew A. Cherry Wins Oscar For ‘Hair Love,’ Honors Kobe Bryant In Speech

Cherry talked to about his experiences directing the episode (which aired Thursday, Dec. 3) and the way the subject material connects so poignantly to his personal upbringing. Do you assume you have been chosen to do that episode since you’re Black?

Matthew Cherry: Oftentimes, administrators haven’t got a lot say in what episodes we’re assigned to, however I do assume on the producer facet of issues, they’re all the time considering of individuals with sure sensibilities who can convey issues to the desk. Omar (Miller) [who plays Ben] and Maya Lynne (Robinson) [who plays Michelle] are good buddies of mine, and, figuring out that this was going to be a little bit of a delicate subject, I feel it simply made sense that this was the episode this season that I ended up directing. On this episode referred to as, “It’s The Thought That Counts,” the central battle includes Forrest (performed by Rob Corddry) gifting a water gun to Noah (performed by Devin Vivid), and Noah’s mother and father’ concern about their adolescent Black son possessing something resembling a gun. Have you ever ever endured any conditions much like this?

Matthew Cherry: I bear in mind one scenario particularly: I performed three sports activities for a highschool referred to as Loyola Academy (within the Chicago suburbs). I skilled in the summertime to play these sports activities all yr lengthy. I used to be jogging within the neighborhood that I lived in all my life carrying athletic gear, and somebody truly referred to as the police. I needed to be like 13, 14 years previous, like every Black child wearing athletic gear and weird shoes, and for no matter motive individuals noticed that as a menace. Fortunately nothing unhealthy got here out of it, however it was undoubtedly a kind of reminders. I feel Howard and the author’s room actually did an incredible job of taking a real-life concern and placing some sweet with the drugs, since there are mild moments [in the episode] as effectively. Have you ever seen another sitcoms efficiently tackling this materials, Black writers or not?

Matthew Cherry: The dialog about being a correct ally is one which I have never seen actually tackled within the tv area, which is why this episode was so thrilling, particularly given some networks usually are not as prone to take an enormous swing on one thing like this. It’s actually cool that CBS and everyone in the studio was behind having this actual dialog. Clearly there are specific nuances that I and other people like Howard can convey to the desk to extend the authenticity. Hopefully, matters might be explored from writers of all colours, ethnicities and sexual orientations and all the pieces in between. They can not all simply be coming from one lens. Is it a problem to strategy this topical materials with out coming off as preachy?

Matthew Cherry: On this explicit episode, we’re coping with a difficulty very particular to the Black expertise. However these are all human conversations; in a future episode, it could possibly be one thing Rob and Michaela’s (Watkins) characters are coping with that they should convey Omar and Maya Lynne’s characters in on. You simply inform the story and acknowledge that there’s an vital dialog available. 

Once we have been capturing, there have been actual feelings that have been developing; once I see that, I wish to give the actors the liberty to actually go there and to not preserve doing take after take as that stays bottled up. Within the remaining reduce of the episode, we used the takes the place we gave Maya Lynne the liberty so as to add her private experiences [to the dialogue]. It made it way more genuine. Once you’re coping with genuine human feelings and experiences, I don’t assume there’s any such factor as preachy.  

Watch this episode of The Unicorn on and catch future episodes on Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. EST/8:30 p.m. C on CBS.

Picture by Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic and picture by Erik Voake/CBS through Getty Pictures

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