Elizabeth Alderfer
Source: Storm Santos

Elizabeth Alderfer Reveals How 'United States of Al' Tackles Sensitive Afghan Topics (EXCLUSIVE)

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Sep. 27 2021, Published 5:56 p.m. ET

While we typically think of comedies as light-hearted, one of television’s newer sitcoms, United States of Al, tackles some heavy issues.

The Chuck Lorre comedy is a far cry from The Big Bang Theory, but despite its relevant and complicated subject matter, it is somehow still hilarious. Now, we’re gearing up for the Season 2 premiere on Oct. 7, and we’re expecting it to be funnier, but also much more relevant.

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United States of Al follows Awalmir “Al” Karimi (Adhir Kalyan), an interpreter from Afghanistan brought back to Ohio by combat veteran Riley (Parker Young) to make a life for himself in the U.S.A. It’s pretty impossible to make a sitcom about an Afghan interpreter and a soldier from the Afghan war without addressing the realities of what’s going on in Afghanistan.

So, Distractify spoke with Elizabeth Alderfer, who plays Lizzie, Riley’s younger sister, about some United States of Al Season 2 spoilers.

Elizabeth Alderfer and Adhir Kalyan in 'United States of Al'
Source: CBS
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Elizabeth Alderfer, who plays Lizzie, shared some spoilers ahead of ‘United States of Al’ Season 2.

Season 2 of United States of Al comes out on Oct. 7, but we learned a little bit about the upcoming season beforehand.

“The next season of United States of Al will definitely be dealing head-on with what's going on in Afghanistan,” she divulged. “And with the Afghan diaspora as well as Afghan interpreters and everything that's going on with that. Obviously our show was dealing with that in Season 1. But we're just going to delve even deeper in Season 2.”

Elizabeth Alderfer in 'United States of Al'
Source: CBS
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As far as what’s going on in Afghanistan, to put it simply, the Taliban has virtually succeeded in taking over. American troops have been stationed there for 20 years, but to little avail. However, after the Taliban signed a peace treaty with the U.S. government in February 2020, violence across Afghanistan, largely instigated by the Taliban, began to rise once again in March 2020.

Since 2009, there have been nearly 111,000 civilian casualties, and the number is sharply rising as Afghan refugees seek asylum. United States of Al first aired in April 2021, so the worsening situation in Afghanistan has always been extremely relevant to the series.

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Season 2 of ‘United States of Al’ will feature the worsening situation in Afghanistan more heavily.

Elizabeth explained that Season 2 was definitely impacted by the events in Afghanistan. “All of Kabul happened, I think, the day before we started shooting what was supposed to be Episode 2,” she shared.

“And the mood on set was very somber, it was very intense,” she said. Elizabeth went on to explain that the show has many Afghan writers and cast members, so many of them were actually dealing with “their friends and family back in Afghanistan trying to get out.”

Elizabeth Alderfer and Parker Young in 'United States of Al'
Source: CBS
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“It was really intense,” she disclosed. “But also this beautiful unifying moment for everybody. We were already determined to tell these stories and tell them correctly, but we're even more determined now.”

And considering how little television there is about Afghan characters, the cast of United States of Al is rightfully determined to bring a humanizing and empathetic story to homes all across America.

Elizabeth also revealed spoilers about her character, Lizzie, in Season 2 of ‘United States of Al.’

When it comes to playing Lizzie, though, Elizabeth is very aware of her responsibility. Before the series begins, Lizzie’s fiancé passes away. Despite the humor behind Lizzie and United States of Al, she portrays a character grappling with grief.

“There are so many people across this country who are still grieving the loss of a loved one, whether that is a brother, a sister, a mother,” she says. “And doing that, with the backdrop of what's going on in Afghanistan, feels like a huge responsibility.”

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But she does so with a smile and with passion — behind her hilarious character work, Elizabeth revealed that Lizzie will “have a lot more challenges this season. She's also going to rise above those and I think find some fun new ways to cope.”

Elizabeth Alderfer in 'United States of Al'
Source: CBS

Not only that, but as part of her responsibility to Lizzie and to United States of Al, she’s been working with No One Left Behind to make sure she’s bringing truth and care to the series. Sitcoms aren’t just simple comedies anymore; now, they are in and of the world, a world in which people are fighting for their survival amid terrorism and hardship. And yet, we still look for humor.

Season 2 of United States of Al premieres Thursday, Oct. 7, at 8:30 p.m. on CBS.

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