The automotive industry is one of the largest, most complicated and rapidly changing businesses in the world. As we move towards the age of electrification, century-old monoliths are facing the greatest shift in the industry’s history. This massive upheaval of norms has left several automakers scrambling to reassert and redefine their brand identity moving forwards. It’s a fascinating thing to behold in real time, so much so that it gave NBC an idea. The cable network has tasked “Superstore” showrunner Justin Spitzer with recreating this real-world scenario in a new sitcom titled “American Auto”. The name Payne Motors will soon become a reality.
We think it’s supposed to be funny.
Fans of the workplace comedy genre are likely familiar with Justin Spitzer, as he served as a longtime executive producer on the much-beloved show “The Office”. Not unlike that show, “American Auto” is slated to debut as a comedy-centered sitcom, based right here in Detroit. According to the Detroit Free Press, The show centers around the fictitious Payne Motors and the struggles its executives are facing during this transition period for the industry. “Saturday Night Live” alum Ana Gasteyer is set to do her best Mary Barra impression, as she will star as the automakers CEO. Other cast members will include Jon Barinholtz, Harriet Dyer, Humphrey Ker, Michael B. Washington, Tye White and X Mayo.
NBC needs to tread carefully here. Yes, it is true that Spitzer has successfully adapted other workplaces into TV shows, but an office job or a job at a retailer is a shared experience across this country. That cannot be said for the auto industry, which is without question centered here.
Based on the name Payne Motors alone, Hollywood isn’t interested in representing what this city is actually going through. If we’re candid, American Auto sounds like the entire concept of this show was drafted up in an ivory coastal elite tower, with entertainment industry executives highly removed from the auto industry projecting their opinions on cars through this new show, from which they’ve formed vicariously. Or at the very least, people that think just like them.
And American Auto is supposed to be a comedy?
This is why YouTube, Instagram and TikTok stars are taking their lunch money. If the entertainment business wants wants to narrate on a dying, struggling, dinosaur industry, they need only look in a mirror.
People in Detroit are all too familiar with what a struggling auto industry means for their livelihoods, and don’t care much to be reminded of the implications. They certainly will not appreciate jokes being made about the struggles working class people are facing in what continues to be one of America’s most troubled large cities.
We know that Californians believe that the industry is becoming theirs, but Detroit’s auto executives aren’t the fools that some Silicon Valley startups may want you to believe. This isn’t 2008, and Detroit’s automakers look poised to continue their dominance into the EV era. If the Tesla-obsessed Hollywood community wants to portray this city, they should have the gall to come here to shoot it. But of course, the D may be too “icky” for such an insightful piece of art.
Detroit Vs Everybody, indeed.
As of now, NBC is currently reworking cast deals following pandemic-related production delays. Outside of knowing that the show will air during the network’s 2021-2022 season, no official date has been set at this time. Either way, it won’t be long before we can sink our teeth into Hollywood’s latest take on the automotive industry.
To our fellow Detroiters out there, how do you feel about this whole situation? Let us know down below.