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NBC Comedy Coming This Fall Stars Detroit Auto Industry

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 1/26/2021 Mark Vaughn
a group of people standing in front of a car: “American Auto” is a new TV show due out in the 2021–2022 season. © NBC “American Auto” is a new TV show due out in the 2021–2022 season.
  • It’s a workplace comedy set in the executive suites of a U.S. carmaker.
  • The producer has solid credentials, so we're looking forward to it.
  • A new TV comedy series about the Detroit auto industry will debut this fall when American Auto arrives on NBC.

A new comedy TV show called American Auto arrives this fall on NBC.

Research

Hollywood has tried to depict the car industry before, with semi-disastrous results. Consider the 1986 movie Gung Ho about the relationship between American union auto workers and Japanese carmakers. That flick has a 33 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes>>>P. Roger Ebert called it“a disappointment” and gave it two stars. Consequently, Tim Allen set his highly successful TV show Home Improvement>>>P, which featured a hot rod, at least, in Detroit. Ed Asner’s Thunder Alley was peripherally about the car industry and lasted two whole seasons. Many a History Channel documentary has approached the topic of the U.S. car industry on a more serious, historical basis. And there are myriad shows depicting small hot rod shops with angry mechanics hitting each other over the head with wrenches.

But this new show promises to be a mainstream, prime-time, major-network comedy deal.

The official description from NBC says it’s“set at the headquarters of a major American automotive company in Detroit where a floundering group of executives try to rediscover the company identity amidst a rapidly changing industry.”

Ana Gasteyer wearing a blue shirt: The show stars“Saturday Night Live” alum Ana Gasteyer, best known on SNL for her Martha Stewart sketches. © NBC The show stars“Saturday Night Live” alum Ana Gasteyer, best known on SNL for her Martha Stewart sketches.

Does that mean they’re making the change from internal combustion to electric cars>>>P? To autonomous cars? Or, worse, to hydrogen fuel cells? We don’t know yet.

The show stars Saturday Night Live alum Ana Gasteyer, best known on SNL for her Martha Stewart impressions. On this new show she plays Katherine Hastings, the CEO of the troubled Payne Motors (is that a joke?). Harriet Dyer plays the head of PR, Humphrey Ker as head of sales, Micheal B. Washington plays the designer, Tye White is an assembly worker, and comedian X Mayo is Gasteyer’s executive assistant.

The show is the brainchild of writer/producer Justin Spitzer, who was also a writer/producer on The Office>>>P, as well as writing episodes of Scrubs and Courting Alice>>>P. Most recently Spitzer brought us the popular NBC comedy Superstore>>>P, now in its sixth season. So that bodes well for the Spitzer-made“American Auto,” we can hope.

The pilot for the new series was greenlit a year ago and shot soon after, but the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted production. Then the series itself got the go-ahead earlier this week. No specific dates have been released except that it will be part of the 2021-2022 season, which means we’ll see it in fall sometime.

And before you start drawing conclusions, the casting of a woman as the head of a major American automaker actually happened when the story was sold to NBC back in 2013, a year before Mary Barra took over as General Motors’ CEO. So there goes that line of thinking.

Here’s hoping it’s hilarious. We are trying to track down a viewing of the pilot, which has already been shot. We’ll let you know how we liked it when we see it.

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