Friday, May 11, 2012

Indian Stereotypes on Primetime Television

When thinking specifically about Asian Indian characters, it is quite rare to see them stepping out of the stereotypical occupations (Parmindra Nagra in ER, genetist from Heroes, even Apu from The Simpsons holds a PhD in computer science!). There are of course, exceptions, such as Principal Figgins from Glee and Tom Haverford from Parks and Recreation, but the stereotypes still remain. 
Interestingly enough, in the last few years, I have noticed a tremendous increase in the representation of Indians on mainstream television shows. More importantly, I have noticed the start of a backlash towards the stereotypical representations. For instance, in this clip from Rules of Engagement, Timmy speaks out against David Spade’s (perhaps overly exaggerated) stereotype that Indians have the same ethnic background as Native Americans.

Here's another clip - this one from the tv show, Whitney. In this clip, one of the main characters, Neal experiences a “stereotypical response” from his co-worker. Unfortunately, I can’t find a clip from later in the show, but Neal decides to speak up to his co-worker, which shows progress towards combating these stereotypes in the media. 

Are there other clips you have seen? Feel free to share in the comments section!

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