It’s been a long time coming, but in the last few years South Asian characters on television have broken out of the molds that Western media has insisted on keeping them in for decades. Folks like Kal Penn, Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, and Aasif Mandvi have been doing the Lord’s work, chipping away at harmful stereotypes and creating unique, strong, and most importantly normal characters.
Just this past Monday, Freeform, the new incarnation of ABC Family, greenlit a pilot for a new comedy show called Brown Girls, about two young women of Indian descent. This is exciting! The plot, via Hollywood Reporter:
The pilot centers on the relationship between Rimmi, an Indian-American aspiring beauty vlogger, and Devi, a young woman who has recently emigrated from India. Brought together by family, Rimmi and Devi instantly clash over their different views on modern life and love while slowly realizing they both have something to learn from one another.
I am looking forward to the pilot, particularly because the writers are Shilpi Roy, who is South Asian, and veteran producer (and WOC) Nastaran Dibai. Aside from The Mindy Project, which almost never delves into Mindy’s Indian heritage, 2002’s Bend It Like Beckham, which did, and um Degrassi’s “Alli,” who’s a rebel because of her conservative Indian upbringing, this is a rare opportunity to see Indian women in action, which warms my heart.
But we South Asians have been burned before. In the spirit of exercising caution, I’ve compiled a list of some of the classic “East meets West” Indian-American culture-clash tropes that I hope this show skirts—or, even better, addresses in a more subversive way. Sari not sari.