Like most other dark skinned PoC, I was excited to see that a show featuring a brown woman, particularly a brown South Asian woman, would be premiering on Fox. I mean, we NEVER see dark skinned women like that holding their own on a show! I thought it would be a great step forward in American television and getting some Brown women out there representing.
Until I actually watched the first episode.
While I can only hope it gets better, I know from experience that first impressions often stick with a show (ie, how Legend of Korra got more and more disappointing with each episode). And the amount of problematic bullshit on this show seems to be proof that the only way for brown people to get greenlighted on TV is if they’re enforcing our culture’s racist, sexist, and etc problematic behavior.
While I love that the show portrays a Brown woman in ways that white women in a similar show would be portrayed (ie, just doing normal shit and going through normal everyday issues), it’s obvious this show tries to appeal to that white experience a bit TOO much. An example is how Mindy obsesses over white men. Her ex, whose wedding she went to at the start of the show, was white. She jokes that Tom Hanks (I think it was him; some white dude) was her “first boyfriend” as a teenager. All of her male coworkers (two of whom are potential lovers/romantic interests) are white. Before going on a date, with a white man, she prays that her date has a lot of features from numerous white celebrities.
It’s almost as if to make up for the fact that she’s brown, everyone else has to be as white as possible. Including her interests, her friends, her assistants, etc.
She also shows a bit of racism and Islamphobia herself when a Hijabi woman, who doesn’t speak English and has to translate through her son, seeks her out to deliver her baby. Mindy denies the woman at first on the grounds that she doesn’t have insurance, and after agreeing, grudging, to deliver the baby, she yells at her assistants for sending her non-insurance having immigrant patients. To which one of them notes, “Okay, more white people.” And Mindy practically cosigns on it!
Also, not amused by her assistant stating that Mindy wasn’t raised in the US when she actually WAS raised in the US.
And then the sexism, which considering how the show is, I shouldn’t be surprised. When Mindy seeks advice on an outfit for her date, a coworker, who seems to enjoy being a dick to her, tells her that she would “look better if [she] lost 15 pounds.” I mean, really? Really? This same asshole, after Mindy opens up about her frustration for ruining her date, asks if the man was a “real man.” And then proceeds to ask if the man can do all those stereotypical “man” stuff that only “real men” can do. All while pumping himself up as a “real man” because this asshole who tells thin, 31 year old women to lose 15 pounds is such a REAL MAN that ANY girl should want to be with (even though not cuz he’s divorced. Oops. What was that about a real man?).
And then there was the mentioning of Gabby Sidibe. When Mindy is trying to boost her confidence, she states how she’s not skinny (when she really is thin, or at least “average,” so she’s not someone who would face weight discrimination or anything), she goes, “It’s not like I’m Precious big.” As if our society doesn’t shit on Gabby enough, completely ignoring her incredible acting skills because she’s big. Even more disappointing is how she didn’t even use Gabby’s real name, instead referring to her by the character that made her known. If you’re going to spend the entire show talking about CELEBRITIES who you love and adore, at least use the actual name of the CELEBRITY who you’re shitting on. I’m sure if you were mocking Beyonce, you wouldn’t call her “Denna Jones” or “Foxxy Cleopatra.” Hell, not even by her other alias, Sasha Fierce! Way to just completely dehumanize a fellow dark skinned actress who has enough hate out there just for giggles.
It’s really disappointing considering how excited I was for this show. I wanted to love it, to tune in every Tuesday night and laugh as this brown girl dominated. That’s all I wanted. Instead, I got racist bullshit after racist bullshit, fatphobic (and even triggering) content, sexist jerks who you can tell will be Mindy’s main love interests, and more bullshit.
Yeah, that’s another show I’m just going to have to pass on.
I watched the first episode and I feel this review (not that the reviewer’s feelings aren’t valid, I’m just comparing to my own experience watching) lacks in its criticism some important context that the episode provided. Pilots are always rough since they’re only occasionally reshot from the version that sold the network on it; I’m going to watch for a few more episodes to see how some things play out. I know from watching The Office for several years that Mindy Kaling’s a solid writer and has some subtlety to her approach, so personally I’m looking to see where the show’s going with character development before I pass any judgment on it.