CBS' 'Superior Donuts' Won't Shy Away From Serious Issues

The Jermaine Fowler comedy, however, will not reveal whether its characters are Democrats or Republicans.
Michael Yarish/CBS

CBS' midseason comedy Superior Donuts is taking a page from NBC's The Carmichael Show, ABC's Black-ish and cable comedies like FX's You're the Worst and Atlanta: It will explore topical issues including gun control, racial profiling and more.

Producers Garrett Donovan, Neil Goldman and Bob Daily, as well as star and executive producer Jermaine Fowler, told reporters Monday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour that their forthcoming comedy will take on topical subjects that viewers are talking about around the kitchen table.

"The pilot was written a year ago, and sadly, these issues are evergreen," said Daily, who noted he's optimistic that his other CBS show — The Odd Couple — will return, despite its limited episode order this season. Subjects set to be explored on Donuts include hate crimes involving the show's Muslim character, played by Maz Jobrani, and other cultural issues, as told through the lens of the show's central characters.

The multicamera comedy was picked up to pilot and shot this past development season. After narrowly missing a series pickup in May, CBS opted to reshoot (and recast) the pilot and now has handed out a 13-episode order for the project, which is based on the play by Tracy Letts. Fowler stars alongside Judd Hirsch and Katey Sagal.

"We have a gun story coming, and that explores the effect that a gun has on the characters' lives," said Donovan, stressing that Superior Donuts will not be an "issue of the week show." "It's not a political thing. We're never going to say if they're Democrats or Republicans, in order to keep this out of the political realm."

Added star Fowler: "The pilot talks about race and gentrification. You can't overlook those things. You can't not talk about these issues; it's a disservice to comedy. That's what our show is about. Otherwise, it's like a fake show."

Hirsch, who noted he was sent the script along with a box of doughnuts while he was doing a play, said there's plenty of humor to be mined from today's political landscape. "What comedy would not take advantage of that [the election] is a funny thing that happened? Everything in the present tense is up for grabs in this country, and that's what makes great comedy; if you don't do it, it looks like you're hiding."

Noted Goldman: "These things are very relevant and real and current, and it makes the most sense to us that these characters would be plugged into that and arguing about that. Everybody gets along and likes each other … they feel hopeful, despite such differences represented in the show."

Superior Donuts premieres Feb. 2 at 8:30 p.m. after The Big Bang Theory before moving into its regular slot on Mondays at 9 p.m. starting Feb. 6.