Tag Archives: harold and kumar

Between a Racial Rock and a Gender Hardplace [Fall TV Rant]

The new fall show line ups are hitting the internet, and via Jezebel, I see New York Magazine wants us to rejoice that there are women on television.

At this point, it should go without saying that all the women referenced are white, as per usual. But whatever! Victory! More women on television is a reason to be thrilled, right? That is, until I see what’s being lauded:

Cummings’s multi-cam sitcom, Whitney, has an awful pilot, full of cynical innuendo, and yet one scene—sexual role-playing gone south—showed a glimmer of something, a dank, self-mocking Sandra Bernhard–esque allure. Sue me, but I can’t help rooting for Cummings, who seems to have something to say about the survival skills of damaged women, even if she hasn’t quite figured out what it is yet.

Luckily, Cummings’s other show, CBS’s 2 Broke Girls, which she produced with Sex and the City’s Michael Patrick King, has more potential. It stars the luscious Kat Dennings (from Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist) and Beth Behrs, playing waitresses at a greasy spoon in Williamsburg. Dennings wears knee-high boots and a working-class sneer; Behrs is a newly broke heiress. As the self-reliant cynic, Dennings is fantastic, making the most of acrid punch lines like “That’s not what rape feels like!”

Now, where have I heard about 2 Broke Girls, before? Oh, that’s right – Racebending:

The character, “Rice Lee,” is portrayed as a stereotypically backward and socially stunted Asian immigrant, who is repeatedly mocked and corrected by his white co-workers (including Max, one of the titular “broke girls.”) Continue reading

What’s Behind “The South Asian Boom” On TV?

by Latoya Peterson

Mindy Kaling Office

Over at Slate, Nina Shen Rastogi points to the rise of South Asian characters on television. In an article titled “Beyond Apu: Why are there suddenly so many Indians on television?” Shen Rastogi examines the changing opportunities for South Asian actors:

Why are Indians suddenly the “it ethnicity,” as Ravi Patel put it to me?

This, too, is at least partially a function of changing demographics. More Indians in the fabric of American life means we’re more likely to be a source of inspiration for non-Indian writers, like the two Jewish guys from suburban New Jersey who wrote Harold and Kumar—the title characters are based on their friends. Reshma Shetty, who stars as Divya on USA’s hit dramedy Royal Pains, told me that her character was based on a Divya that creator Andrew Lenchewski grew up with on Long Island.

But according to Karen Narasaki, who heads the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, the rise in primetime Asians is also the result of advocacy. Her organization and its partners have been working with the networks to develop diversity initiatives for the past decade, ever since 1999′s infamously “whitewashed” primetime season, in which not a single freshman show had a leading minority character.

Narasaki’s group doesn’t track all the various Asian-American subgroups, so it’s hard to tell if Indians are rising in Hollywood at the expense of, say, Chinese and Koreans. But there are a few reasons why Indian actors might have more opportunities. America’s growing fascination with Bollywood—and relative ignorance of entertainment industries in other Asian countries—may be opening some doors. Narasaki notes that TV executives tend to have a mental barrier that prevents them from seeing Asians as “stars” who can carry shows. But “Hollywood is intrigued by Bollywood,” she says. It’s not so much that Los Angeles wants to start aping Bombay’s storytelling style, but when executives are thinking about diversifying their shows, the allure of Bollywood—and, more recently, the runaway success of Slumdog Millionaire—may mean that Indians seem more attractive than members of other Asian groups. Continue reading