Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Seven words HBO will allow on TV: George Carlin’s American Dream documentary trailer debuts

The first trailer for Judd Apatow’s George Carlin documentary makes up for that Larry David doc that never happened

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
George Carlin, frankly, looking fresh as hell
George Carlin, frankly, looking fresh as hell
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

Now that George Carling has transitioned from iconoclastic progressive comedian to a misinterpreted icon of conservative memes, the late George Carlin’s legacy has become a little slippery. Sure, if you actually listen to his comedy, it’s not hard to hear where he’s coming from. Capitalism, colonialism, bigotry, and, yes, censorship have pitted everyday Americans against each other in the service of a powerful, wealthy few. He famously blames this on the Baby Boomers, who he called “whiny, narcissistic, self-indulgent people with a simple philosophy: ‘Give me that! It’s mine!’” Ain’t that America?

In recent years, conservative-leaning comedians and commentators have reclaimed Carlin by posthumously signing him up for their supposed war to save free speech. Filtered through the Tucker Carlson-inspired brain rot that’s infecting the most media illiterate corners of the internet, it’s easy to mistake Carlin for another bad-faith crusader trying to escape criticism from the marginalized communities the world’s most famous comics regularly attack. It’s a fun time for comedy.


Thankfully, HBO’s upcoming documentary about George Carlin aims to clear a few things up. Directed by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio, George Carlin’s American Dream opens the book of Carlin for all to see, from his buttoned-up early days at the mic to his time as The Hippy Dippy Weatherman to the most-revered, ponytail’d comedian of his generation.

And few could touch him. Carlin was quicker, more incisive, and more creative than any of his contemporaries, which is why the documentary is filled with comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Sam Jay, Patton Oswalt, and Bill Burr singing his praises. But the film also promises to get into his personal life, like his relationship with his wife and family, his drug use, and his seismic comeback.


Apatow is no stranger to these kinds of documentaries. In 2018, HBO released the two-part documentary ‌The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling. His co-director, Michael Bonfiglio, has directed several comedy specials, including ‌Ricky Velez: Here’s Everything, and worked with Apatow on ‌Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh. Bonfiglio also helmed the Patrice O’Neill documentary Killing Is Easy.

George Carlin’s American Dream debuts on May 20.