BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Sarah Silverman's new Hulu series boasts intriguing contradictions, just like the comedian.
She's a winsome charmer yet fearlessly blunt on stage. "I Love You, America" sets the lofty goal of trying to help an at-odds nation find common ground while gleefully indulging in fart gags. That such humor may help bridge the divide is the method to the show's madness, although Silverman downplays its likely influence.
"It's a half-hour show on streaming television," she said. "It's not going to change the world. If I put that pressure on myself, I would be an insane person."
The 10-episode series combines an expansive version of a talk show with field pieces in which Silverman meets Americans outside the East-West coastal "bubbles." In one visit, she chewed over gay marriage and the 2016 election during a meal with a Louisiana family that voted for Donald Trump and, in Silverman, met their first Jewish acquaintance.
The episode out Thursday includes comic Tig Notaro; a satirical look at children's Halloween costumes to scare conservatives (a female God) and liberals (a Trump supporter with a doctoral degree), and Silverman's interview with Sen. Al Franken, the Minnesota Democrat who's her friend and former "Saturday Night Live" colleague. A mainstay of "I Love You, America," Silverman's father, Donald, dispenses poolside pearls of wisdom from Florida.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Adam McKay ("The Big Short"), an executive producer on the series, said the intent is to avoid falling into a left-right divide and instead take a common-sense approach to issues such as economic inequality.
The approach is "to be funny, to be visceral, to be human," McKay said. "It's not to be heady. It's not to be theoretical. And I don't think anyone does that better than Sarah. That's her gift."
In an interview, Silverman talked with The Associated Press about how she approaches her work and social media, and what people really want.
AP: This show seems more like your antidote to the angry political climate than a career move.
Silverman: Nothing I do is actually good for your wallet. I'm totally divisive, I'm a terrible choice for any commercial campaign. ... I keep my overhead very low and it's given me immense freedom in my creative choices, and what I feel OK to be outspoken about. I can't imagine not saying something because it might get a conglomerate I'm working with mad.
AP: You've had angry, insulting messages aimed at you online, but you said that social media has also helped you make unlikely friendships.
Silverman: I have so many examples of that on Twitter, people that I have become friends with out of very adversarial initial meetings. The thing we all have in common is we want to feel loved, we want to feel seen (despite) ideological differences. I said something about believing in a two-state (Middle East) solution, and a woman from Israel came up to me at a party and just screamed. I didn't mean this in a manipulative way, but this woman was so drop-dead gorgeous that when she stopped talking, I go, "You are stunning." Immediately, she was, "You are so sweet!" People just want to feel loved. All her porcupine needles just went down
AP: Porcupine needles as metaphor?
Silverman: Defenses. I always think of it as porcupine needles. That's why arguing never changes people's mind. Because both of your porcupine needles are up and you're not open to change. But with that first hug hello, "Oh, these are your grandkids?" (it changes). There was a time when Democratic, Republican senators used to play golf together, they knew each other's families and politics were very different because of it. We're so divided now. They are never even in the same room even, and it's hurting the country.
This story has been corrected to show the series' title is "I Love You, America."
Lynn Elber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber .