(CBS) – United States Of Al is back for its second episode of season one tonight at 8:30 PM ET/PT, on CBS and streaming with Paramount+. United States Of Al stars Adhir Kalyan and Parker Young as a pair of military veterans who developed an incredible friendship during their service and are now adjusting to civilian life in the United States.
CBS’ Matt Weiss spoke to Kalyan and Young ahead of tonight’s episode about what to expect from the show and their real-life friendship.
MW: Hello fellas, United States of Al new episode tonight excited to speak with you both here today. First off, what was it like to shoot the first season of a show in a pandemic?
AK: You know, honestly, first off, we feel so grateful to have even been able to work against the backdrop of everything that’s been unfolding in the world. But with these new protocols, rigorous testing, having to maintain social distancing and masks, sometimes multiple tests a day, you would think that it would feel stranger than it sounds.
We were able to sort of get into a rhythm quite early on, and if anything, being so contained has allowed us to get really close to each other really quickly. All we do is really be between our home lives and our work lives. I actually think if anything, if there is a silver lining to this, it’s been that we’ve been able to really band together as a cast in quite a unique way. That’s been my take on it. Parker’s probably been miserable. But let’s ask him. [laughs]
PY: [Laughs] No, it has been challenging, but a very welcomed challenge. It’s been nice to get to work or get to see faces open.
AK: Real question. Do you think that we would become as close as we are now if it weren’t for the pandemic?
PY: I mean, I have to say, yes. I don’t think that without a pandemic we wouldn’t be.
AK: Just fishing for compliments. But yeah go ahead. [Laughs]
PY: But no, everybody seems so excited to be here. I’m so grateful to be here and just ready to show up and laugh and have a good time. I think because not just because it’s a dream job, but also because we’ve been stuck at home having very little fun. It’s definitely been an amazing experience. You get to come here and make the story. Tell the story.
AK: I think one big difference that we haven’t been able to perform in front of the live studio audience, which I guess is the idea initially behind the show. So hopefully once we open up again, if we’re fortunate to have a decent run on the air, maybe some point.
MW: I would imagine there are even some people, maybe who work in the crew, who you haven’t even seen their faces yet. Has that happened at all?
PY: Weird thing. Yeah, that’s a weird thing. We actually have seen none of their faces apart from their eyes. That’s been difficult. When we get to a wrap party, when this is all behind us and we’re allowed to be maskless, we’re not even going to recognize any of them.
MW: You need a big unmasking, a big unveiling of everyone’s faces.
PY: Exactly. [Laughs]
MW: Last week the first episode aired. What was that like to see that first episode?
AK: I don’t speak for anyone else on the show. I’ve been fortunate to be working in the United States since I came out, which I was 24 years old, so, like 14 years ago now. Moments like these are rare, to be a part of a show that you’re excited about, that you’re passionate about; you’re proud to be a part of.
For it to reach the air, it has to sort of go through so many steps in the process. I just felt really excited. I’m so excited for people to continue to watch the show because as we are able to tell more stories, you get to know the characters. We’ll give you different looks at these relationships and we’re having such a great time.
MW: [Laughs] So last question, before I let you guys go here, what can fans look forward to as we go through the rest of this first season?
AK: I think we see Parker’s character, Riley readjusting civilian Life. We get to see a relationship between Al and Riley’s daughter, Hazel developing. We get to see this evening’s relationship, but we get a real insight at the aftermath of war and its impact on this particular family, how Lizzie is dealing with the passing of her birthday.
On a more serious note, one thing that I’ve seen that people have said throughout these few episodes that have been screened for press, is that we see a somewhat lighthearted Al, but what’s his story? But as the season goes on, we do get to see a more serious side of him and the bunker set. The garage set is the place where Al and Riley not only solidify their relationship, but really help each other navigate through life. I think that there’s so many interesting stories to be told in this season, and beyond that, we just sort of can’t wait, really, for people to have a look at.
PY: Yeah, we see a family that is bit broken right now. As a result of having been impacted by the war. And through the course of the season, we see that family start to put the pieces back together and we do it with a bunch of laughs.
One of the other things that I’m excited to show is that we get to show America what it is to be an Afghan interpreter, and specifically one that’s made it to the States, which is a very true story. There are thousands of guys that are here that are trying to start this new life who are just grateful to be here.
There are thousands that are in constant danger and thousands more that have been left behind. Hopefully through telling a story, we can help those guys secure special visas to make it to the States.
AK: If there is anything that the show could do, we’d love for it to not only be something that is heartfelt and sticks with people and people can enjoy, but hopefully it also sheds a spotlight on this particular issue.
MW: Absolutely. Thank you both so much for the time and all the best moving forward!
AK: Thank you!
PY: Thanks, Matt!
Tune in Thursdays at 8:30 PM ET/PT for new episodes of United States Of Al, on CBS and streaming with Paramount+. Check your local listings for more information.