Thursday, September 26, 2019

REVIEW: 'Sunnyside' - Scandal Derails Garrett's Political Career But He May Find New Purpose Elsewhere in 'Pilot'

NBC's Sunnyside - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

A former New York City councilman finds his calling when he meets a group of immigrants in search of the American dream.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of NBC's Sunnyside.

"Pilot" was written by Kal Penn & Matt Murray and directed by Oz Rodriguez

People in politics actually have to have empathy for the people who voted them into office. They have to be responsible for trying to make things better. It's a profession that has the reputation of just being full of smooth talkers who can craft a good argument but don't actually have the merits to get things done. Garrett Modi wanted to be elected as a city councilman solely because of the influence and money it would afford him. He was notorious around the city as someone who only cared about himself. That's his perception at the start of the series. His career may have blown up because of a scandal. And yet, he still believes that it's possible for him to get re-elected. He is very cocky in that regard without it being earned in the slightest. No one expects him to make a comeback. Sure, it's still vital to be willing to give others the chance to improve. Right now, there is the acceptance that people who do terrible and abusive things need to be punished severely. But part of that punishment also has to be focused on rehabilitation. Sure, it's difficult for people to come back from certain scandals. It shouldn't be impossible though. Garrett hasn't exactly earned that right just yet. But he has won the support of this immigrant study group who desperately need a teacher to help them sail through this complicated process. That too allows the show to feel much more timely and relevant. At first, it seems like it'll be easy to make fun of politics considering Garrett didn't actually do anything. He was only good at persuading people to agree with him. That has been very beneficial to him throughout his life. It may keep him from doing any kind of self-reflection though. If people are willing to support him blindly without him needing to do anything, then he will just continue making these same abusive mistakes. He is entitled because he doesn't think an embarrassing arrest video should have been the end of his career. And yet, he leaves politics with no money and no one willing to take his calls. That too is startling and highlights just how poorly managed he was throughout this whole endeavor. Some people can and do build long careers out of politics. But there is always the understanding that they could be voted out of office at any time. Garrett never saw the inevitability of this all coming to an end at some point. He thought he could just move up in the world and run for a different office with more power and influence. Right now, he brags about hanging out with D-list celebrities or extended family members of famous people. It's not that impressive. He treats it like a big deal though. And yet, there are real problems happening in the world that affect so many people. It shouldn't take the threat of deportation for Garrett to notice either. He is only introduced to the group because they are paying him to provide them with some answers. They need to know everything in order to pass the citizenship test. Garrett believes he can just go through the motions and talk about what makes this country great instead of actually going through the process. He doesn't understand it at all because he never had to go through it. He is privileged in that way. He hasn't had to struggle. He is now though. He is learning how to give back. He is cynical in the beginning. He sees this as the start of his road back to public office. At the end of the premiere though, he has befriended this group and wants to help anyway he can. No, he may not be able to get any answers as to where Brady's brother has been taken. But when Garrett storms into a room, he does so with some actual conviction and the willingness to help now. People shouldn't forgive him right away. He has a long road ahead for possible redemption. But the show presents a reality in which that is possible for him which is very uplifting.