Sacha Baron Cohen’s New Show Is So Much Darker Than You Think

With jokes about rape and arming kindergartners, the Borat star hits a nerve.

Sacha Baron Cohen arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, March 4, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Washington has been buzzing for a week about the upcoming new Showtime series by Sacha Baron Cohen, Who is America? after news leaked that the Borat star had tricked a host of politicos from Dick Cheney to Sarah Palin into appearing on the show. On Sunday, Showtime released an extensive clip from the forthcoming series, and if it’s any indication of what the rest of the series will be like, it’s a lot darker even than advertised.

In the 10-minute clip, Cohen masquerades as an Israeli anti-terrorist expert hoping to convince Congress to embrace a program designed to arm kindergarten students to defend against mass school shooters:

Among those he recruits to support the program is Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, a gun lobby group that’s more extreme even than the National Rifle Association.

On the show, Pratt buys into the idea of arming children, which perhaps isn’t surprising. What is surprising is his belly-laughing response to a joke from Cohen, who tells Pratt that his wife, who has a gun, shot him in bed in the middle of the night because he got “horny.”

“But it’s not rape if it’s your wife, right?” Cohen tells Pratt knowingly, before reaching over and shaking his hand as Pratt laughs hysterically.

“That probably won’t be on the video we send to the Hill, right?” Pratt asks. Once Cohen says no, Pratt busts out laughing some more, red in the face, clearly enjoying the joke. Afterward, he offers to help Cohen make contacts with members of Congress to promote the armed kindergartners program.

The provocative sizzle reel is making the rounds today, and it’s already eliciting strong reactions on Twitter. Here’s Shannon Watts, founder of anti-gun-violence group Moms Demand Action:

From the father of a victim of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida:

And this:

The Atlantic‘s David Frum wasn’t laughing:

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate