The coming-of-age comedy series Chad has faced an uphill climb. In 2022, hours before the second season was set to premiere, TBS canceled the show as part of the network's continued attempt to pivot away from original content.
Two years later, the new season has finally premiered at its new home on the Roku Channel. The series stars former Saturday Night Live actress Nasim Pedrad as the title character, a Persian American boy awkwardly maneuvering his way through high school and trying to connect with his cultural identity.
During a recent interview with the Current, Pedrad, who is the creator, co-writer and executive producer of the series, talked about the evolution of Chad as a character and her own high school experiences. She also explained why it's important to use her platform in Hollywood to speak on issues including women's rights in her birth country of Iran.
The first two seasons of Chad are available on the Roku app and at therokuchannel.com.
What excites you the most about sharing a second season of Chad with fans, especially after it was unclear what was going to happen to the series?
I love the direction we take the character this season. I love portraying the character. It was really making us laugh in the writers' room thinking about giving him a love story and something to focus on outside of himself. In the first season, he's so much about being popular. I didn't want to just do that again. So, we thought, "What if he becomes popular and then it all comes crashing down?"
How do you think Chad has evolved from his freshman to sophomore year?
I think in season one, he's really bearing the part of him that speaks to his cultural background and the otherness of being an immigrant kid. When he hits rock bottom in season two, he's forced to spend time with his family, and he grows a little. It's incremental, but he learns to be just a little more at peace with the fact that he is coming from these two different cultures. At that age, that can feel like a scary thing.
What kind of kid where you in high school? Did you ever get suspended or go to detention?
I was a good kid. I didn't really want to rock the boat. I was just trying to survive. I didn't have the luxury of rebelling. I was pretty much a nerd. I just tried to keep my head down and get good grades, so I could go to college. A lot of that nerdy, awkward sensibility is ultimately what inspired the engine of the show.
If you went to high school with Chad, would you have found anything about him attractive?
Oh, my gosh. I feel so bad that I want to say no. I mean, the part of me that's rooting for Chad is heartbroken because he's trying so hard. He's in such a specific stage of adolescence where he is getting in his own way more than anyone else. It's not like he's being bullied by anyone. He just gets himself in trouble because he's so desperate to belong, which is very relatable. But I don't know how attractive that is for me. Maybe if he was just a little more comfortable in his own skin, I probably would have had a crush on him.
Over the last few years, you've been very vocal about political injustices taking place in your home country of Iran. These days, it seems like actors who speak out on controversial topics lose out on job opportunities. Would you urge them to continue speaking out?
I would implore anyone to be authentic to who they are and to speak from their heart, presuming their message is coming from a place of love. I think if people feel inclined to participate in activism, the way I felt inclined to when there were mass uprisings in Iran, they should. It's a beautiful thing for people that have a little bit of a public platform to be able to lend their voice to the voiceless. So, in my case, when the people of my homeland were silenced and faced with the brutality of a regime that engages in state-sanctioned violence, I not only felt like it was an honor to be their megaphone, but I felt a real responsibility as a member of the diaspora who's privileged enough to be able to speak at a time where they're being silenced by their own government. It felt important and necessary and was very personal to me. So, I threw myself into what little I could do from outside the country to help amplify their voices.