You know Sacha Baron Cohen from his outrageous characters like Ali G, Borat, and Brüno. But now, he’s back with his most insane bits yet. Cohen’s new TV show Who is America? is a satirical series that he’s been working on for a year. It’s basically Punk’d for politics. Over the course of seven episodes, he’ll meet with lawmakers and activists to address some of the biggest problems facing our nation. But instead of sitting down as himself, Cohen takes on aliases like ex-con Ricky Sharman, extreme liberal Dr. Nira Cain-N’Degeocello, and Trump supporter Billy Wayne Ruddick.
One of Cohen’s Who is America? characters, Col. Erran Morad, meets with Republican lawmakers and gun rights activists to address what we can do to stop school shootings. As Morad, Cohen squashes the idea that we should arm teachers, suggesting that we arm students from ages 3-16 instead. He calls the fake program “Kinderguardians” and uses fake statistics (“children under five have elevated levels of the pheromone Blink-182”) to convince his subjects. But here’s the thing: They actually believe him. They actually endorse the idea.
Think about that: Sacha Baron Cohen actually gets former Senate majority leader Trent Lott to say that he supports “putting guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens — good guys — whether they be teachers, or whether they actually be talented children or highly-trained pre-schoolers.” He gets Rep. Dana Rohrabacher to say that putting guns in the hands of kids could “make us safer.” And he gets Rep. Joe Wilson to say that “a three-year old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a Hello Kitty pencil case at it.”
Sound funny? It is, to a degree. To the audience watching at home, Who is America? is so clearly satire. It’s absolutely outrageous to watch Cohen, heavily disguised under prosthetics, suggest such outlandish ideas to lawmakers and activists. But it ceases to be funny when they actually agree with him and support him. And that’s the genius of Who is America?: It exposes the uncomfortable truths that we need to see.
Watch a 10-minute preview of Who is America? below.
Who is America? premieres on Showtime on Sunday, July 15th at 10 pm EST. But if you’re a Showtime subscriber, the first episode is already available on demand. Twitter is already all over it, and the internet has a LOT of thoughts.
Oh, and Who is America? already has the Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak seal of approval.
And to think, the “Kinderguardians” bit is only the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned to see what else Sacha Baron Cohen uncovers throughout the first season of Who is America? It won’t be easy to watch, but it’s a vital reminder that we HAVE to pay attention.