02x07 - Young Designers

Episode transcripts for the TV show "American Auto". Aired: December 13, 2021 –; present.
Offbeat employees of a major automobile company in Detroit try to adjust to a rapidly shifting industry.
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02x07 - Young Designers

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Hello, and welcome to "Russell Reports"
from Russell Elementary.

I'm Hannah, and I'm here with the CEO

of Payne Motors, Katherine Hastings,

- and some of her workers.
- "Workers."

Katherine, what are you
doing here today?

Well, Hannah, it's the th annual

Payne Motors Dream It, Design It Fair.

It's a chance for young people
to get out of the back seat

and into the design seat,

and we love it because at Payne,

young people inspire us every day.

Cool. Do you have kids?

No, mm-mm.

Well, I have a stepdaughter.
A daughter. Daughter.

She's a step... She's a stepdaughter.

I mean, let's just go with daughter.

- We'll go with daughter.
- And do you have kids?

No, not yet.

Maybe one day, though. [chuckles]

Do you have kids?


But one day if you meet
the right person?

- Also no.
- What about you?

No, I wanted them, though. We tried.

There was a whole IVF situation,

and this thing with
a Belgian fertility doctor,

with whom we're still
in litigation, by the way.

But then the marriage
dissolved anyway, so...

- Okay, Ted.
- [laughs]

All's well that ends well, I guess.

- Mm.
- Cool.

Well, I'll be here all day
with more "Russell Reports,"

so stay tuned.

♪ Bom bom bom-bom-bom-bom-bom ♪

♪ Buh buh bom-bom-bom
buh bom-bom-bom-bom ♪

[chorus vocalizing]

The kids spent a lot of time on these,

so try not to say anything negative.

You know, just don't make
insulting jokes.

And if I need to spank them,
can I use a pipe,

or does it have to be my belt?

I'm not Mr. Burns.
I know how to be around children.

I just know how much you hate
this, like, cheery, feel-good,

"Hey, we're a part
of the community" fluff.

Fluff sounds pretty good, actually.

I could use a break from the real world.

I mean, after what
we have been through...

The pawls, the f*re,
Andy [bleep] Richter...

- Yeah.
- I mean, compared to that,

today is gonna be like
rubbing one out on a rainbow.

And that kind of verbal jauntiness...

- For your ears only.
- Yeah, right.

- God, that one looks stupid.
- It does.

It all looks so much smaller
than when I was a student here.

We used to dare each other
to jump off of those bleachers,

and I was always too scared.

That's not that high.
I could jump that easy.

Well, I could do it now, Wesley.

Then why don't you go ahead
and do it then?

Because I'm an adult
at a business function.

Ah, I thought so. I thought so.

So, Jack, it must be good, though,

you know, coming back to your old school
as a big-sh*t executive.

Yeah, you know what?
I gotta admit that it does.

Is that how you feel
when you visit your old school?

Well, I went to a -year-old

all-boys boarding school in England.

So by this stage of my life,
I'm expected

to probably have been voted
into parliament,

and then forced to resign in disgrace,

and then, you know,
live out the rest of my days

in the south of Spain
bothering local women.

That would be considered good?

Ah, well, it's an ancient tradition,
so do try to respect that.


I love Spain.

And that's me, Mom and Dad,
and Grandma and Grandpa,

and my other grandma and Steve.

It's like a building that's a car.

- I just love it. Thank you.
- Thanks.

What's gonna happen when
it has to go under a bridge?

Tough way for Grandma to go out.

And Steve.

So the exhaust comes out the tailpipe,

through the tube,
and back into the gas t*nk.

It turns old gas into new gas.

This would single-handedly
solve climate change.

Yeah, this is the future right here.
Great job.

So that's basically a b*mb, right?

b*mb on wheels.

Luckily, everyone inside will die

of carbon monoxide poisoning
before the expl*si*n.

Balanbaalis means "butterfly" in Somali,

and I made it red, white, and green

because those are the colors
of the Somaliland flag.

Is that right?

I think the flag of Mexico
is also red, white, and green, isn't it?

Yeah, yeah, and also, um...

- Sbarro's.
- Sbarro's.

- Oh.
- Yeah.

I was born there.

In Sbarro's? [laughs]

No, just kidding. I'm just kidding.

No, but Somaliland is
a beautiful country, though,

and I just love it there.

A lot of parts of it have warlords,

and my parents say girls my age can be

forced to become child brides.


- Italy.
- Yes.

Italy also has
a red, white, and green flag.

Italy! [both laugh]



- Yeah?
- My, you've grown.

How do you know my son?

Oh, no, it's nothing bad.
Don't worry, we've never met.

No, I just got sent an email
with a video of him once,

which sounds much...

Sounds much worse than it really is.

I was gonna do
the Michigan Mentors program,

you know, actually, until they sent me

the video of Hector,
and I sort of reassessed then,

which is, uh, nothing to do with him...

Me... just, you know, time constraints.

So... but speaking
of time constraints, I think...

I think they want me in the corner

over there where all the action is.

But it was lovely to meet you both.

Stay in school.

So it's an invisible car.

Looks like Wonder Woman has
a car to go with her plane.

[chuckles] Yeah. [phone buzzes]

So that kid just didn't do
the assignment, right?


Hey, Mike, what's up?

Wait, what?

Well, I guess you just have to remember
where you parked it.

[laughs] But really well done.

Hey, guys, can I talk to you
for a minute in private?

How much do you know about Somaliland?

I would say I know
nothing about Somaliland.

Sounds like the world's
least fun theme park.

It's where that girl with
the butterfly car was from.

- Mm-hmm.
- It's a region of Somalia.

They declared independence in ,

but Somalia
and the international community

don't consider them a sovereign nation.

You see where I'm going with this?

- I truly don't.
- No, no idea.

You were filmed on Instagram
calling Somaliland a country,

and Somali Twitter picked it up.

- There's Somali Twitter?
- There's everything Twitter.

And they're always angry.

Ted, I don't mean to be
an ugly American,

but who cares if I'm unpopular
on Somali social media?

Because we get the yttrium

we use in cars from Somali mines,

and now they're thr*at
to cut us off.

They're that sensitive?

Yes, we go out of our way to never talk

about the Somalia-Somaliland issue.

And if we ever do, we have to use
other countries as stand-ins.

Try to have a day of fun,
you end up in a Somali yttrium mine.

Yep, I guess the break
from the real world is over.

Yeah, it was a lovely
ten minutes, though.

Mm-hmm, it was nice.

Oh, my gosh, even the steering wheel

is a little peppermint.
I bet "MotorTrend" would pick this

as the most delicious car of the year.

It's so well done.

Great job, great job.

Let's see. Who is next?

Oh, look at that.

We are back at the butterfly car.

Oh, gosh, I just love
those colors from the flag.

What country did you say
that you were from again?

- Somaliland.
- Oh, I see.

Actually, well, so that's
where you're wrong, right?

Because Somaliland is not a country.

It is a region
within the sovereign nation

of Somalia, right, Sadie?

Yes, I believe
Somaliland is not recognized

by the UN or the African Union.

Can't argue with that. [both laugh]

So at any rate,
Somalia is a fantastic country.

They are top, top dog
really in the region.

I mean, and we are so proud
to be doing business with them.

My brother's still in jail in Somalia.

He was recruited by a militia
when he was very young.

That's all for today's
"Russell Reports."

Bye, everybody.

Did you make that?


He did a good job, right?

Yeah, it's... interesting.


That's nice.

That's so nice, wasn't it, Tyler?

My future car designer. [chuckles]

Hey, so how much
of a problem would it be

if one of these designs
was similar to something

that we've been working on?

I mean, we couldn't be sued, right?

Well, I mean,
anybody could sue for anything.

Dr. Dre sued some gynecologist

just 'cause he also happened
to be called Dr. Dre.

- Who won?
- Dr. Dre.

How similar are these designs?

Well, this is the kid's car.


And this is what we're developing.

[gasps] Cyrus!

Did you steal a design from a child?

It's a coincidence.

We've had this in the works
for five years.

Five years?

Now, is that older or younger
than the child you stole this from?

[laughs] Come on.

I'm only messing around. It's fine.

We'll just sling him
a few bucks, all right,

make the whole problem go away.

You want to buy a design
that I've already designed?

Yes, I'd rather
throw him a few bucks now

and avoid an embarrassing lawsuit later.

Let him sue. We can prove that
we came up with this independently.

Oh, yes. No, I'd love to do that.

You know, take the stand
and tell the whole world

that we're not plagiarists.

No, it's just that
our best and brightest spent,

you know, five years and $ million

and ultimately came up
with exactly the same thing

as an eight-year-old who was just

tossing off a homework assignment.

But it's not right.

Okay, well, you know, next time,

maybe design a car that isn't
so easily replicable

by Dennis the Menace.

Oh, and if you did steal it,
don't tell me again.

It's best I don't know.

It's my design.

Ooh, yes, that was very good.
Yeah, say it like that.

Yeah, very convincing.

Those aren't that tall.

What is that, like, feet?

- That's cake, dude.
- Again, we're grown-ups.

I jumped off a snowman
at the Holiday Light-tacular

last year, and that was feet.

It was onto snow, but it was packed.

It wasn't, like, powder.

- Mrs. Simms?
- Yes?

I didn't know you still worked here.

I don't know if you remember me.

I was in your fourth-grade class.

Oh, my gosh, Jack Fordham.

Of course I remember you.

Flattop haircut, Detroit Pistons
jacket that was way too big.

I think that thing
still does not fit me.

- [both laugh]
- [clears throat]

Uh, Wesley, this is Mrs. Simms.

She was the best teacher on the planet.

She used to buy school supplies
out of her own pocket

for students who couldn't afford 'em.

Yeah, still doing that. Hi, Wesley.

So nice to meet you.

So which child is yours?

- Oh.
- Oh, no.

No, no, we are not a couple.

But if we were gay, thank you so much

for thinking I could get
a guy like Jack.

- It's very flattering.
- We're here with Payne.

- You're an executive?
- I work with these guys.

I don't know
if I'm exactly an executive.

He's being modest.
This guy's a big sh*t.

Jack Fordham, I'm so proud of you.

Can I introduce you to my students?

It'd be great for them to meet
someone from their world

who's so successful.

- Yeah.
- We'd be honored, Mrs. Simms.

Okay, well, great. Come on.

Hey, if we were gay,
you think we'd be together?

- Hmm, maybe.
- Wow.

Thanks, man.
That makes me feel really good.

Ugh, it's all apples and water.

The country's in the toilet.

Big problem. Big problem.

So Ethiopia saw the most
recent video, and now they're mad.

Is "Russell Reports"
"The New York [bleep] Times" now?

It's all hashtags.

People set up hashtag alerts
for things that piss them off.

Why does Ethiopia care about this?

Because they're dependent on Somaliland
ever since they lost Eritrea.

- Ah, I need a map.
- What?

No, it's fine. Ted.

- Is dairy the problem?
- No.

That's China.

Ah, okay, Eritrea broke away
from Ethiopia in .

And without access to the sea,
their exports had to start

going through the Port of Berbera

- in Somaliland.
- Ted, Ted, Ted. Breathe.

But Somalia and Ethiopia
have been rivals

ever since the British ceded
the Haud Grasslands in ' .

- I see.
- So Addis Ababa

is highly invested
in Somaliland's autonomy.

Okay, I need you
to stop giving me details.

I can't live like this anymore.

We've spent the last months

negotiating with the Ethiopians
to open a production hub,

and you just called their nemesis
the top dog in the region.

They're thr*at
to blow up the whole deal

- if you don't apologize.
- Apologize?

What, like a phone call?

More than that.

Fruit basket?

It wasn't long ago that Jack
was one of my students.

He used to be exactly where you are now.

And I was also a student once, not here.

I don't know if you're familiar
with Cranbrook Academy.

It was very pretty.
I actually lived in Payne Hall.

Thank you, Wesley.

But now Jack's a Payne Motors executive,

and I'm so proud of him.

Well, I owe a lot of it to you.

And all of you can be
just as successful as Jack

if you work hard, go to college, and...

ALL: Believe we can achieve.

Yep, although technically,
I did not go to college.

- Oh.
- But you all should, though.

Kids, go to college.

Then how did you get your job?

Well, I worked on the assembly line,

and then stuff just kind of happened.

It was kind of just dumb luck.

No, no, it wasn't dumb luck.

You know, Jack was smart,
and he worked hard.

And he found his moment to shine.

'Cause that's what success really is.

It's taking advantage
of the opportunities.

That's true. You hear that, kids?

People get hit by cars
literally every day.

Most of them don't get
promoted because of it,

but Jack believed he could achieve.

Ah, so creative.

Oh, wow, this one is very beautiful.

I sense you must be
a professional car designer.

- No, I'm just a kid.
- What? I don't believe it.

I mean, this looks like
something off the front cover

of an international automotive magazine.

You hear that? I told you it was good.

- Thanks.
- Yeah, in fact,

I think it's so good, uh, Tyler,

that as an official
representative of Payne Motors,

I'd like to buy it from you.

- For real?
- Wow, he's gonna buy it.

Yes, and as this is
an official transaction

with Payne Motors, I'd like
to present you with this:

a handcrafted certificate of recognition

and a check for American dollars.

- Whoa.
- Oh, that's so nice of you,

but you don't actually
have to give him money.

Oh, no, no, no, no, no, come on.
It's an official transaction.

You know what else might be quite fun?

What if we were to sign this fun,

you know, official legal document?

Can I?

Well, okay.

Katie's dad is a lawyer.
Should we have him look it over?

[laughs] No, no. No lawyers, please.

No... no more lawyers. I'm a lawyer.

I spend all my day around lawyers.

Very boring, so much more fun
if we just, like, signed this together.

You know, another lawyer would
be overkill, wouldn't it?

Maybe I will get Katie's dad, actually.

Hey, Katie, is your dad still here?

Could you go get him for me?


A thousand apologies to the most noble

Ethiopian government.

Is "a thousand apologies" r*cist?

I mean, I sound like a karate guru.

I mean, if we were dealing with Japan,
I would say that was r*cist.

So does saying it
to Ethiopia make it okay?

No, I think it makes it double r*cist.

All right, my contact in Ethiopia says

he'll translate
what we write into Amharic,

and then you can say it phonetically.

Oh, God, it's all just so fawning.

It's like I'm the world's horniest guy

trying to get Ethiopia to sleep with me.

Yes, channel that energy.

Yeah, but if we go too far,
won't it just re-piss off Somalia?

And then we'll have
to apologize to Somalia again

and then re-apologize to Ethiopia,

and then we'll fall
into a perpetual apology loop,

and long story short, all three
of us eventually die in this room.

It's a concern.

I'm sure I'm overthinking this,
but does "We support all peoples"

who aspire to statehood"
sound like, I don't know, like,

- Palestine or something?
- Oh, that's an overthink.

- Good catch.
- What?

Israel is our biggest
supplier of semiconductors.

That was close.
That could have been bad.

Okay, Ted, I need you to get anyone

who knows anything about this stuff

to come weigh in on it
immediately, okay?

Government affairs, division chiefs,

anyone who knows
where the landmines are buried

needs to get down here now, got it?

Is Ms. Kirby in here?

Does it [bleep] look like
Mrs. Kirby is in here?

[sighs] Sorry, I'm stressed out.

- That child provoked me.
- Mm-hmm.

And he totally b*mb
the management training interview.

I didn't b*mb the interview.

But Jack believed he could achieve,

so he goes to confront this prick...

Wes, I don't think that you...

Catches the guy in his office...

Wes, they don't need
to know the details.

- With his pants down, watching...
- Wes, they are kids!

I wasn't gonna say what it was.

- Thank you.
- P-O-R-N.


Didn't know they could
spell at this age.

Uh, good teaching. [laughs]

Well, we all have our own paths.

What's important isn't
how you get to the top,

but what you do to make the world better
when you get there.

- Exactly.
- How do you do that?

How do I do that?

That is a good question.

Uh, well, I make my voice heard.

Like, if we are considering
closing a factory,

I will fight hard to keep it open.

Do they listen to you?

I have not been at it that long.

You can't blame Jack for
bloated American labor costs.

Well, anyway,
thank you both for coming by.

Oh, here's how we make the world better.

We pay a ton in taxes,
which goes to the greater good.

I mean, with the tax bracket
that Jack and I are in,

we probably pay for this whole school.

I do not think
we're in the same tax bracket.

We might be.
My guy does stuff with gross income.

Oh, my God, I should
hook you up with my guy.

- You'll pay, like, nothing.
- But you should pay something.

- Kids, pay your taxes.
- Pay some taxes.

Don't pay the nominal rate.

The nominal rate is for suckers, kids.

- It's important to give back.
- That's my message.

Don't be a chump.

Okay, so where does that put us?

Well, you get the $ , .

You get the sell-on clause
and an acknowledgment

as the car's creator.

"Creator," right.

And the certificate too, right?

Yes, and the handcrafted
certificate of recognition.

Very good, Tyler.
Thank you for reminding us.

Well, what about appearance fees?

What appearance fees?

Well, everybody's gonna
want to interview

the prodigy that out-designed
the professionals.

- He didn't out-design anyone.
- Okay, let's just...

No, no, no, I am sick
of pretending that we're all

so in awe of Tyler, like I could
never design a car that good.

I already did design it, Tyler.

Okay, Cyrus,
maybe we should take a moment.

And we already made it, Katie's dad.

The only reason we're sitting here

is so that he can't sue us
for a ton of money later.

[clears throat]

Well, okay then,
$ , is extremely low.

Don't you think?

[speaking Amharic]

[bleep] me in the [bleep].

That sounded good until the last part.

Yafet, was that good?

Well, there's a few issues.

Does anyone know if Ethiopia is Muslim?

- What's the difference?
- In some Muslim cultures,

they might be insulted if
you're not wearing a headscarf.

- I'll find out.
- Katherine, the part

where you call Ethiopians
"the finest workers

in the world" sounds like
a dig at our union guys.

Could we change it to
"finest workers in the region"?

I think Egypt would be offended.
Egypt and Ethiopia hate each other.

Oh, let me guess, because Egypt is

our biggest supplier
of mummies, which we use

as crash test dummies for some reason.

Egypt controls the Suez Canal.

If they cut off our shipping lanes,

we'll have to sail all the way
around the African continent.

She's mispronouncing
"minim chigir yelebinyime."

- How is she saying it?
- Minim chigir yelebinyime.

- What's it supposed to be?
- Minim chigir yelebinyime.

- How is she saying it?
- I think we're fine.

Most Ethiopians are Coptic Christian.

Wait, which one are those?

Catholic, but their pope has a beard.

Joyce, are we concerned
about the cows in the frame?

Why, because of vegetarians?

India is a big market. Cows are sacred.

Construction paper cows?

Oh, good catch.
Let's not take any chances.

So it's "yelebinyime,"
not "yelebinyime"?

You are saying the exact same thing.

You're saying the exact same thing.

Are you messing with me on purpose?

Labor says we'll be okay with the unions

if we add the phrase,
"We support the Ethiopians'

rights to unite and organize."

That sounds like
we're advocating the overthrow

of the Ethiopian government.

Yeah, well, it's been that type of day.

Hey, Katherine, apparently, if you say,

"Minim chigir yelebinyime,"
it means, "I have no problem."

But if you say,
"Minim chigir yelebinyime,"

it means, "I have no pubic hair."

That would be TMI.

Okay, everyone get out of the way.
I can do this.

It does look higher
when you're up here, but...

- What is he doing?
- Oh, I think he's trying

to impress a bunch of nine-year-olds,

but he's couching it as a metaphor

for trickle-down economics.

- Imagine I'm wealth.
- Mr. Payne, get down.

I'm coming down,
and we're all gonna benefit.

Well, that is a strong learning tool.

You ever feel like you've
become one of the bad guys?

Bad guys?

I was just excited to be, like,

the hometown hero that made it big

that everybody was proud of,
not some guy

who sold out to corporate America

and forgot where he came from.

Well, we can't all be
teachers and firefighters.

I mean, there are other ways
to give back.

Like what?

I don't know, tip your Uber driver %

or give out full-sized
candy bars at Halloween.

[phone dings] Whatever makes an impact.

- Oh, my God.
- Investment in new jobs

means the wealth's gotta trickle.

Well, here comes the trickle.

Oh, oh, this is bad.

Ah, something popped!

Payne assumes full ownership
in exchange for $ , ,

whereas all appearance fees,
motion picture rights,

and certificates of recognition

are the exclusive property
of the Awesome Radical Company,

Tyler Lopez, president.

So do we have a deal?

- Yeah.
- Yes.

- Yes.
- Glorious.


Tyler, this is amazing.

How'd you even come up with this idea?

I saw it in "t*nk Man Adventure ."

It's my favorite comic book.

Well, it has been a pleasure
doing business with you.

Lovely to meet you all, and I wish you

the best of luck
in your future endeavors.


It was nice to meet you guys.

[speaking Amharic]

- You nailed it!
- It's not terrible.

Hey, Ted, did you know
Abeba Metebaberi Industries,

the Ethiopian company we just
said we're proud to work with,

has been accused of using child labor?

- What?
- Yep, it's all over Twitter.

#Payne, #HumanTrafficking.

I mean, was I aware of it,
like, knew it for a fact to be true?

[whispering] You knew that
we were supporting child labor?

We weren't supporting it.

At worst, we were somewhat failing
to investigate it too intensely.

And you didn't think that maybe,

this was worth mentioning to me sooner?

You said you wanted me
to stop giving you details.

Maybe we should talk
about this back at the office.

Yeah, find that principal.
Let's wrap this up.

Kids, Ted?
Anything else I need to know about?

- Do you actually want to know?
- No, obviously I don't, Ted.

Well, what an event we have had today.


You know, I have always said
that Payne doesn't make cars.

We make promises to future generations.

We do that by sharing
our words of wisdom

with the leaders of tomorrow.

We do that by leading by example.

And after today, I am
so optimistic about the future.

You all are so smart and talented.

I wish that I could hire you all
to come work for me right now.

[laughs] I mean, not "now" now.

Not now. Later on. Later on.

I meant come work for me one day

way past the age of consent
so where it's not child labor,

because I don't believe in that
personally or as a company.

So that's certainly not our beliefs.

So just be kids and always remember,

design it, dream it...

Dream it, design it.

All right, thank you,
Russell Elementary.



[light music]

Mrs. Simms?

Oh, Jack.

Figured you'd have to get back
to the office.

Yeah, I'm about to.
I just wanted to give you this.

$ , ? I couldn't. I don't...

It's payback for all the school supplies

you bought kids over the years.

You know the school paid me
back for those out of petty cash, right?


That's good. I'm glad.

Do you still want me to...

Yeah, yeah, keep it.

You have done a ton of nice stuff.

Well, thank you.

You should keep it.

Thank you.

You should keep it.

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