Jerrod Carmichael Opens Up About That Painfully Honest Tyler, the Creator Conversation

Jerrod Carmichael Fell for Tyler, the Creator Andre D Wagner

Jerrod Carmichael isn’t holding anything back in his new HBO series, Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show. The experimental show puts the comedian’s life on display as he navigates his career, friendships, family, and sexuality. It’s a partially scripted, Truman Show-inspired glimpse into the world of a modern gay man—and in the first episode, Carmichael deals with a dreaded aspect of dating: unrequited love.

Who’s the crush in question? None other than Carmichael’s best friend, Tyler, the Creator. (Quick note from the queer writer of this article: falling for a friend is a rite of passage!) During episode 1 of the series, Carmichael thinks back to when he confessed his feelings—and, unfortunately, the sentiment wasn’t mutual. Tyler laughed it off in a voice note and called Carmichael a “stupid bitch.”

“It’s embarrassing, a little bit,” Carmichael said in the episode, recalling the incident. “And obviously, there’s the feat of it being so totally unrequited.” Despite the letdown, Carmichael bounces back and asks Tyler to be his date to the Emmys.

At first, Tyler doesn’t respond to Carmichael’s invitation, so the comedian tries to mend his broken heart with a conveyor belt of Grindr dates. It’s no use. In the end, Carmichael brings a friend instead, but his buddy refuses to appear on camera, so they show up in a ski mask and goggles. The night isn’t a total wash, though. Carmichael won an Emmy for his HBO comedy special, Rothaniel, which features his coming-out story. Afterward, he even receives a congratulatory call from his estranged mother. The episode ends with Tyler and Carmichael discussing their friendship. “Getting news like that and then avoiding it is a way to avoid change,” Tyler says. “That’s like a brother. That man’s like family.”

In Carmichael’s cover story with Esquire, he spoke about filming their vulnerable sit-down. “I think that conversation is so wild and important and I mostly have gratitude to him for doing it,” Carmichael said. “It’s a conversation that’s never happened before on TV, and he knows that I’m insane, I guess, so he was down for something chaotic.”

So, where does their relationship stand now? “Yeah, I don’t know,” Carmichael said. “I think we’re okay. I’m in New York now, so I don’t see him that often but still admire him and love him, and his friendship meant so much to me, and he inspired me so much.” Despite the awkwardness, Carmichael doesn’t regret anything. “I think every conversation in the show has made the relationship better, at least more honest. But I think we’re good.”

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