Comedies like Big Mouth and PEN15 are known best for their awkward and cringe-worthy attempts at joking about how hard it is to be a teenager (from the perspective of adult actors), but TBS's new sitcom Chad takes that to a whole new level.
The lead character and awkward teenage boy, Chad, is played by 39-year-old actress Nasim Pedrad. But why is Chad played by a girl instead of another teenage boy? It was actually a very deliberate decision.
Why is Nasim playing a 14-year-old boy on 'Chad'?
Nasim is the creator, showrunner, writer, producer, and leading actor in Chad (yes, she wears all of the hats), and she's said in interviews that she wanted to create a character who she felt she could really embody — somehow, that resulted in a 14-year-old boy.
“I don’t know why my truest essence is that of a 14-year-old boy, but here we are,” she joked with The New York Times.
But while it may seem like an unconventional choice, Nasim said it was a decision based on comedy and metaphor.
“Teenagers are already struggling to define their identity and feel accepted by their peers,” she told the outlet. “When you’re an immigrant kid, you’re also caught between two cultures. It becomes an extra obstacle in the gauntlet of high school.”
Chad is a Persian boy trying to find his way in an American high school, and Nasim's family immigrated to the U.S. from Iran when she was only 3 and faced similar struggles. So, she felt it was only fitting that she portrays the main character.
"I also just thought it would be a cool experiment comedically to tell a coming of age story where the teenager was played by an adult who's in on the joke — the joke being us all as adults having that perspective of understanding about what's so funny about being a teenager, right?" she told The Hollywood Reporter. "So I just thought you could push the comedy a lot further if Chad were played by an adult and funny moments can be funnier and less sad because you're not sitting there laughing at an actual Iranian child, you're laughing at an adult who has some distance from it."
Nasim got some pushback for wanting to play a teenage boy.
Before Chad found its home with TBS, Nasim said FOX initially commissioned a pilot episode in 2016 but ultimately passed on the series.
“When I first pitched it, there was definitely an emphatic hope that I would change my mind and play his mom,” she said.
But Nasim, who has portrayed multiple male characters in her sketches with SNL prior to Chad, said she was very insistent on the premise she pitched.
You can watch Nasim portray all of the awkward moments of a 14-year-old boy just trying really, really hard to fit in when the show airs new episodes Tuesdays on TBS at 10:30 p.m. EST.