It used to be that an Indian character on primetime American TV had to be either a cabbie or a convenience store clerk. It’s not that we don’t love Apu – we do – but it’s high time to move on. We’re glad to see the network gurus are starting to see it that way too.
Our biggest shout-out goes to NBC, whose Thursday night lineup gives back-to-back representation to a roster of South Asian talent. First Danny Pudi kicks it off on Community, followed by the incredibly funny Aziz Ansari on Parks and Recreation. Next comes writer/producer/actress Mindy Kaling on The Office, and, last but not least, the uber-talented Maulik Pancholy on 30 Rock.
And this is what we love best: None of these actors are recycling tired stereotypes. On the contrary, their roles are progressive and diverse (they play everything from a lovable school nerd to a hyperactive administrative assistant), and their heritage is almost irrelevant. To wit: Ansari and Pancholy play characters named, respectively, Tom and Jonathan. In other words, they don’t have to be Indian; they just are. Kinda like life.
In the coming months, Republic of Brown will bring you profile pieces on South Asian entertainers, both budding and established, who are doing great work. In the meantime you can find us parked on the couch, watching NBC.
Read about Danny Pudi’s humble beginnings
Check out the video below where Aziz Ansari talks about hanging with Kanye West!
p.s. He’s hosting the MTV Movie Awards and just two days ago he sold a comedy film project to Mandate Pictures, the company behind Juno and Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay. Go on Aziz!