Sometimes "Saturday Night Live" misses a golden opportunity. Julia-Louis Dreyfus and Chris Rock were famously underutilized during their short stints with the late-night sketch show.
Nasim Pedrad stuck around longer than they did, but aside from impressions of Ariana Huffington and Kim Kardashian, she never really made a mark during her stint from 2009 to 2014.
Now she's finally getting a chance to shine.
In "Chad," premiering Tuesday on TBS, the 39-year-old actor transforms into a 14-year-old boy striving for acceptance despite a lack of social skills.
Viewers may be tempted to compare Chad to the title character in "Ramy" because of their shared Muslim background, or the leads in "PEN15" because Pedrad is playing an awkward teen.
But Chad has the most in common with Michael Scott from "The Office," sharing a hunger to be loved, or at least be acknowledged in the hallway.
He's also just as hilarious. It's far too early to be handing out Emmy awards, but I'd be surprised if any actor gives a stronger comedic performance this year.
"All the episodes we've come up with traffic in this cringy, awkward tone," Pedrad told TV critics last year. "But there's always this emotional backbone to Chad that lets you kind of forgive him for all his outlandish behavior."
Pedrad started developing the series five years ago. Along the way, more than one executive tried convincing her to cast an actual teen in the main role. Thankfully, she didn't listen.
"Teenagers don't know what's so funny about being a teenager. They're just sort of living it," she said. "I thought you could push the comedy so much further if you had an adult who can bring that perspective on why teenagers are so funny and has some distance from that age."
In the first episode, Chad decides the best way to kick off his freshman year is by telling classmates that he's lost his virginity.
"I just had a little bit of sex last summer," he boasts. It's a lie that causes him to run home crying after a goth girl tries to seduce him.
In later weeks, we cringe as he gets way too close to his mother's new boyfriend, channels his inner Bob Fosse while choreographing a K-pop routine and throws a fit when his family doesn't understand that getting a pair of LeBron shoes is required for fitting in at school.
"Mom, this is not the Middle East!" he rants. "Things are complicated here in America!"
Pedrad drew on her own experience growing up as an Iranian-American immigrant, although I'm assuming she never brought a sword to school, then gave it away in exchange for a mention on a popular kid's Instagram account.
"I would go to school with these super-embarrassing but delicious Persian stews that were totally useless to me. I had no microwave and everyone around me had Lunchables," she said. "Teenagers already struggle with defining their identity and feeling accepted by their peers, but when you're an immigrant kid caught between these two cultures, it's almost like this extra obstacle in your way in your effort to fit in. That's a lot of what the show explores."
Chad's journey through adolescence may be more painful than most, but it's also more hysterical. Going back to school has rarely been so inviting.