It feels more than a little grim to be writing up this trailer reveal of Adam Conover’s new Netflix docu-comedy, The G Word with Adam Conover (made in collaboration with the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions), the same night a draft of the Supreme Court’s shameful (if inevitable) decision to finally strike down Roe v. Wade was leaked to Politico. But honestly, the fact that an entire branch of the American government is failing American citizens in such an arcanely predictable way falls so squarely in line with The G Word’s intentionally conflicted thesis that, at the same time, the whole thing feels just like a deleted scene from the series’ cutting room floor.
So, here it is, the trailer for The G Word with Adam Conover, a limited “hybrid comedy-documentary” series from the comedian behind Adam Ruins Everything—based on Michael Lewis’s The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy and produced in collaboration with a literal former President of the United States—that’s set to “explore the government’s triumphs, failures, and what we might be able to do to change it.”
You know, comedy:
Now, if you’re worried about the well of Conover’s signature skepticism being poisoned by The G Word’s proximity to political power, you’re not the only one. But as it turns out, Former President Obama’s openness to that very skepticism was what ultimately made Conover comfortable enough to get on board.
“So the show came about because [after] Higher Ground optioned Michael Lewis’s book, they had the idea of using comedy to tell the story of what the federal government does, but that was as far as they’d thought it through,” Conover explained to Paste during a recent interview (the rest of which will run in full closer to the series’ premiere). “They wanted a comedian to help them tell the story, so I showed up and I pitched on it and said, ‘this would be my angle, this would be my approach, here are the types of questions I would seek to investigate. I don’t want to do anything that’s just about how great the government is—I want to take a critical look at the failures the government makes.’ And they said, ‘That sounds terrific, go off and do that! Answer the questions you want to answer, and answer them as you see fit. We’re [just] here to help.’”
If that sounds too good to be true, you’ll just have to tune in and see for yourself how sturdy that promise ends up being. [Spoiler: Conover, at least, thinks it ended up pretty sturdy!]
And as for all you Adam Ruins Everything-heads out there? Rest assured that The G Word retains all the comedic ARE storytelling you know and love, just with the added twist of Conover finally getting to get real with his own reactions to the stories being told.
“What I loved about The G Word,” he says, “is that in this project, it’s just me, Adam Conover, the actual person, sharing these things with you, the audience, directly. So when there’s moments on the show where I say, I’m wrestling with this problem or I’m worried about this; I have a concern about this; I’m not sure what the answer to this question is… On Adam Ruins Everything, that would be Adam Conover the character wrestling with that. But on The G Word, it’s literally me the person. So when I say I’m struggling with a contradiction, it’s because I personally am feeling that way. And that was a real joy for me to be able to expose my own processing and my own thinking more directly.”
A joy? Processing how the American government interacts with its citizenry? In this economy?? We’ll believe it when we see it!
Which, for the record, will be globally, on Netflix, on May 19.
The G Word with Adam Conover is produced by Higher Ground (the Obamas’ Hollywood joint) alongside Adam Conover, Jon Cohen, and Jon Wolf of Fair Point. The rest of Paste’s interview with Conover will run the week of the premiere.
Alexis Gunderson is a TV critic and audiobibliophile. She
can be found @AlexisKG.