NBC orders "American Auto" sitcom for 2021-2022 television season

The auto industry can be a major source of drama, but what about comedy? We’re about to find out, as NBC is launching a sitcom about automotive executives.

“American Auto” focuses on a failing Detroit-based automaker looking to stage a comeback in a changing marketplace, according to the Detroit Free Press. It’s received a series order from NBC for the 2021-2022 season, the newspaper reported, but a premiere date hasn’t been announced. The premise is timely, as the established U.S. automakers continue to adapt to new technologies like electric powertrains and autonomous driving.

The show comes from Justin Spitzer, creator of the NBC comedy “Superstore,” and stars Ana Gasteyer as CEO of the fictional automaker, Payne Motors. That effectively makes Gasteyer an analog to General Motors CEO Mary Barra, the only current female CEO of a U.S. automaker. The show also stars Jon Barinholtz, Harriet Dyer, Humphrey Ker, Michael B. Washington, Tye White, and X Mayo.

A pilot for the show was ordered in February 2020, but NBC’s pilot-production schedule was disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, Variety noted.

While many television shows—like “Knight Rider,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” or “The A-Team”—have featured iconic cars, it’s unusual for a series to focus on the industry itself.

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A handful of movies have been made about the auto industry, but mostly in the form of biopics of specific, larger-than-life figures like Preston Tucker or John DeLorean. It’s unclear whether boardroom politics and product-planning meetings will make for good comedy, but it is certainly a different way of looking at the American car industry.

Do you think you’ll watch it? Let’s hope it’s funny without demeaning the auto industry.

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