During the first season of her Comedy Central series, Sarah Silverman’s small-screen alter ego experimented with lesbianism, gave shelter to a homeless man in an attempt to win a humanitarian award, overdosed on cough medicine and slept with God.
Parents Television Council founder Brent Bozell had a (predictable) hissy fit, but viewers responded positively: Comedy Central renewed “The Sarah Silverman Program” for a second season one week after it premiered.
Penning a review of the series, People magazine’s Jennifer Wulff perhaps said it best: “The show is so wrong. And I loved every minute of it.”
Much like Silverman herself, the series — about a lazy, self-centered woman (Silverman), her much nicer sister and her two gay slacker neighbors — seems genetically engineered to engender sharp reactions of the love-it or hate-it variety.
Some viewers were no doubt slack-jawed at the self-centered actions of Silverman’s character, many of which make Larry David’s TV self seem saintly by comparison.
Silverman says her character’s complete lack of self-awareness, and generally upbeat attitude, make her meanness somehow palatable.
“She’s sweet (even though) she’s just terrible,” Silverman says. “I like to call (it) arrogant ignorance.”
After being wooed by Comedy Central, Silverman says she looked to the opening and closing scenes of her 2006 concert film, “Jesus Is Magic,” for inspiration when creating the series. Those segments feature Silverman sitting around, kibbitzing with her friends, then breaking into song.
“I liked how it felt very real and small, and then went into a musical number,” she says. “I wanted to do something like that.”
The success of the series forced Silverman to make some changes to her career plans.
“I wanted to be in movies, but I’m getting to do my dream with this show,” she says. “Why would I rather play someone else’s sassy friend?”
Funniest episode: “Not Without My Daughter,” in which Silverman decides to adopt a young girl so she can enter her in a beauty pageant — all to avenge her own loss in the same pageant.
Funniest character: Silverman, no question.
Funniest line: “I think that’s amazing,” Silverman says after learning God is black. “I mean, I’m not one of those people who’s going to say, ‘Oh, God is black. Is he going to steal the moon?’ “