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Say Hello to Pindar Singh, the latest in the growing line of stereotypical and typecast South Asian characters on an American network show, Franklin and Bash.
What’s so bad about how Pindar is portrayed?
- They don’t bother to pronounce his name right.
- He’s an expert at computers and computer law.
- His role is simply comedic — from the foreign accent to his foreign culture. Calling his respect for his father a notion only acceptable in “Pindaristan” is highly problematic. Maybe Americans are devoid of any and all family values. At least, that is what it says to me.
- He’s starved and screaming for attention in a show that is all about some hotshot white lawyers, hence the “I Just Look Illegal” t-shirt. Though, I must say, the t-shirt is cool.
- Did I mention he is a marginal character thrown in the mix for a few laughs?
I’m sure almost every desi thinks he is cool. That’s how starved we are for representation on mainstream American TV.
South Asians are either depicted without any ethnicity, such as as Jonathan in 30 rock, who went 68 episodes before finally being outed as an Indian or they are like Pindar. Our lack of anger over stereotypical roles and passive consumption of content without making a fuss has allowed South Asian actors to take on years of stereotypical roles in stride.
What does a non-typecast, non-stereotypical Indian character look like? Kal Penn on House, Parminder Nagra on ER, and Sendhil Ramamurthy on Heroes. And I’m happy to inform readers that Sendhil nabbed a role in a Bollywood flick, Shor in the City, which came out recently.
Should you stop watching Franklin and Bash? No, it is a pretty good show. It’s just terrible at portraying people of color appropriately.