TV & Movies

Did NBC's American Auto Deliver an Instant Classic? Grade the Premiere

Superstore creator Justin Spitzer is back with his new NBC workplace comedy, American Auto, which centers on the corporate executives at Payne Motors and their attempts to adjust to the changing times or face “being sent to the junk yard,” per the official synopsis.

Monday’s double-episode premiere kicked off with the unveiling of the Ponderosa, the company’s newest line of cars. Touted as a self-driving vehicle, the team ran into a major issue when they realized the computer’s A.I. couldn’t detect darker objects — it stopped for a white cardboard cutout family but hit a real Black person — and having a “racist car” is a huge PR disaster.

With six hours until their big presentation with a room full of critics, the team scrapped together a shoddy redesign using parts from employees’ cars in the parking lot. This makeshift version of the Ponderosa, which new CEO Katherine Payne (played by Ana Gasteyer) touted as completely customizable to reflect the “diversity of the melting pot that is America… and also international,” did not go over well. It was heavily panned, and company stocks plummeted.

Coming off the Ponderosa controversy, the company needed to generate positive press. Unfortunately, a serial killer who drove one of their cars made the news and put them back in the spotlight for the wrong reason. Katherine only made things worse in a TV interview when she said she’s cooperating with the FBI, which might create a privacy issue for consumers, and immediately switched her stance to say she’ll fight the FBI’s subpoena — only to be accused of protecting a monster.

In another attempt at gaining good press, the team set up a press conference with one of the victim’s widows, who turned out to be brazenly homophobic and went on an offensive tirade on live television. In the end, police caught the serial killer, and the gang decided it was best to just let it go and not release a statement, given everything they’ve done wrong so far.

What did you think of American Auto’s debut? Grade the first two episodes below, and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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