‘Little America’ tackles big issues

- Patrick Ryan

Kumail Nanjiani is best known for playing sardonic computer programmer Dinesh in HBO’s “Silicon Valley” and starring in 2017’s Oscar-nominated, semi-autobiogra­phical romantic comedy “The Big Sick,” which he cowrote with wife Emily V. Gordon.

Now, the husband-and-wife duo are executive producers of Apple TV Plus’ “Little America,” (now streaming). The eight-episode half-hour anthology series, which they co-created with Alan Yang (Netflix’s “Master of None”), tells dramatized true stories of immigrants in the United States. Among them: an economics student in Oklahoma who grew up watching Westerns in his native Nigeria, and a young Indian boy who runs his family’s Utah motel after his parents are deported.

Nanjiani, 41, who just finished shooting Marvel’s “The Eternals” in London, talked to USA TODAY about “Little America,” Kelly Clarkson and the biggest culture shock when he moved to the U.S. from Pakistan at 18.

Question: Something that surprised me most as a viewer was just how heartwarmi­ng and joyous and hopeful most of these stories were. Why was it important to you to show these sides of the immigrant experience?

Kumail Nanjiani: Comedy and heartbreak really go hand in hand. Emily and I never want to make anything that’s really depressing – our first box we want to check is entertaini­ng. We don’t want this to feel like a medicine show that people have to watch to learn lessons. So we wanted to make sure these episodes were funny and quirky.

Q: In a way, telling immigrant stories feels almost like a political act under this administra­tion, and yet there is no mention of the president


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