New Comedy Series ‘Sunnyside’ Will Shed Light on Immigrant Experiences
The creators of the new NBC comedy series Sunnyside say, “We are just trying to tell real stories about people.”
With fall just around the corner, the new TV series “Sunnyside” looks to tackle immigrant experiences with humor and heart.
Although the subject matter may sound heavy, the premise actually makes for a perfect example of a fish-out-of-water comedy: a washed-up New York City politician (Kal Penn) begins to tutor U.S. immigrants on how to pass their citizenship test.
This setup naturally lends itself to a melting pot of colorful yet relatable characters: wealthy Asian American descendants of a mysterious (potentially evil) mastermind will be played by Joel Kim Booster and Poppy Liu; an Ethiopian doctor (Samba Schutte) who won a citizenship lottery and is now a cab driver; a young person who was brought here as a toddler (Moses Storm); and Diana Maria Riva will play a hard-working Dominican with a seemingly endless resume of thankless jobs. This motley crew will be united in their quest for the American dream—as well as the fear of deportation.
Five of the seven actors lined up for the pilot are immigrants themselves: Joel Kim Booster is a high profile, South Korean-born comedian; Kiran Deol is a UK-born actor; Poppy Liu was born in China; Tudor Petrut is of Romanian origin; Samba Schutte is a Dutch-Mauritanian actor who grew up in Ethiopia; and Diana Maria Riva, a first-generation Dominican.
Additionally, the new half-hour comedy will benefit from the insights of a writing staff that is comprised mostly of immigrants or the children of immigrants, according to Matt Murray who created the series with Penn. This will undoubtedly prove to be a valuable wellspring of ideas for the new series.
“We are just trying to tell real stories about people,” Murray said, pointing out the hardship of the path to citizenship. He also promises the new show will have something for everyone, telling “a bunch of different stories.”
Star and co-writer Kal Penn (“House”, “How I Met Your Mother”) is of Indian descent as well, and will draw from his own real-life experiences for the show. The 42-year old also worked for the Obama administration’s Office of Public Liaison in 2009, primarily working with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and the arts community.
With immigration being among the most prominent issues in our current political climate in the U.S., this show’s theme is timely.
“Sunnyside” is produced by Mike Schur (“The Office”, “The Good Place”) and will premiere on Thursday, September 26, 2019 on NBC.