Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show Review: A Brutally Honest Doc

Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show Review: A Brutally Honest Doc

Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show Review: A Brutally Honest Doc

I now know way more about Jerrod Carmichael’s kinks than I ever thought I would. Practicing an extreme form of radical honesty, the comedian turns the camera on himself in unexpected and surprising ways for HBO’s Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show, an eight-episode series in which Carmichael reveals the ways in which his life has changed since publicly coming out as gay in 2022 — not just in terms of his romantic relationships, but his relationships with his friends and family.

The result is a fearless examination of Carmichael’s personal issues in a way that proves universal, because he’s so frank about how all the threads of his life are tangled up together. There’s a fair amount of him doing what he does so well — sit on a stage with a microphone, talking to an audience about his life — but most of the bigger revelations come from more candid moments, as the cameras follow him around in a deeply intimate fashion.

Time for a quick disclosure: Lawrence Everson, who served as the supervising sound mixer on this show, is a friend of mine. Beyond wanting to be upfront about that on an ethical level, I wanted to mention it because when I first heard about Lawrence’s involvement, it came as a bit of a surprise to me; he primarily works on documentary projects, and I’d assumed, based on the initial announcement, that Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show would be a comedy.

Instead, it’s got its moments of humor but it’s definitely a documentary — one that’s upfront about its existence of the cameras, and the construction of certain scenarios. After all, the ability for documentary to capture truth is always in flux; outside of actual quantum mechanics, there’s no better application of the observer effect, the notion that the act of witnessing an event has an undeniable effect on it.

Reality Show leans hard into this, though, never shying away from showing the camera crew in the process of setting up for a shot. Those rough-hewn moments are a feature, not a bug, enhancing the authentic feeling that’s clearly the goal.

Over the course of the season, Carmichael is clearly in the process of discovering who he is as an out gay man, which includes him getting closer with a long-term, often long-distance boyfriend while also struggling with fidelity. His relationship with Mike is more than just a source of drama, though — it’s also a lens through which he’s able to look at other relationships in his life.

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