“Who Is America?”


Christine Joo and Sydney Young

With its first episode airing in July earlier this year, “Who is America,” a Showtime TV series by Sacha Baron Cohen, has already made the news for its shocking and hilarious episodes. In his newest series, comedian Baron Cohen has created four different characters, each used to interview or interact with anyone from former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney to Bachelor in Paradise star Corinne Olympios.

When inviting an individual to be on his show, Baron Cohen makes sure to reveal that he is not who he claims to be. Guests sign a contract that stops them from taking legal action against the show. Despite these contracts, there have been many people who want to sue the show for ruining their reputation. With the intent to sue, they claim to have been forced into saying offensive comments through a script.

In one of Baron Cohen’s most shocking segments, he invited state representative, Jason Spencer, to talk with him, disguised as an Israeli anti-terrorism specialist. In the past, Spencer had worked towards laws that banned Muslims from wearing niqabs and burkas in public. Throughout the segment, Spencer performed racist actions such as pretending to be a Chinese tourist taking selfies and taking off his pants to reveal his buttocks to intimidate ISIS. After the segment aired, Spencer resigned from his position of seven years. Baron Cohen has also pranked politicians who have been accused of being pedophiles and those who have voiced their opinions on gun rights.

However, despite the earlier momentum and success of the series, the show has started to lose steam. Though each episode often, resulted in laughs and humiliation of its subjects, the series did not seem to have a clear focus or message. In our opinion, Baron Cohen did not seem to have a clear path as to what he wanted to portray to his viewers. We loved seeing the evolution of the characters and Baron Cohen’s ability to break down people and manipulate them into doing crazy and irrational acts, but overall we could not see the end message of the series other than pure entertainment for his audience. It seemed that Baron Cohen had the platform and ability to stress something that needed to be said, but “Who is America”ended its seventh and final episode with no conclusion.