Apu from "The Simpsons" no longer the only Indian character on TV
For the longest time, Kwik-E-mart owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on "The Simpsons" was the only Indian-American character on TV. And, while his "thank you, come again" line is spot on -- seriously, if you've been to a convenience store owned by an Indian or Pakistani, you know it's not far off -- it was a bit, how shall I put it, unrepresentative of the population as a whole.
(Just so we're clear, I'm talking about Indians as in people who either come from or have ancestors from India, not Native Americans. Also, as another side note, we're not all good at fixing computers, solving math problems or being doctors, but we tend to enjoy spicy food).
In fact, these days Indian-American actors and characters are a-plently on network shows like "The Office," "Parks and Recreation," "Community," "Big Bang Theory, "The Good Wife" and "24." Sweet, we've finally hit the big leagues! Whether it's part of the "Slumdog Millionaire" bandwagon or perhaps a recognition of the range of talent from Indian-American actors and actresses, this Asian Invasion (am I allowed to say that?) is about to get bigger.
NBC announced it would pick up a television version of the movie "Outsourced" -- a 2006 indie flick about an American manager who goes to India to train his company's call center employees -- as a half-hour comedy with longtime "The Office" director Ken Kwapis at the helm. The movie, by the way, was actually hilarious and would make a great sitcom. Fox is also picking up "Nevermind Nirvana," a sitcom about a family of Indian-Americans. At the same time, the producers of the British comedy "The Kumars at No. 42" are looking to translate the show across the Atlantic.
Diversity on television is always a good thing, not to mention realistic ("Grey's Anatomy" is often heralded for its diverse cast, but I find it hard to believe there's a hospital in the world, let alone Seattle, without an Indian doctor). In the same year that Barack Obama was elected President, "The Cleveland Show" was the only new show anchored by a minority character in 2008. That's right: ONLY. Even then, the main character is voiced by a white guy.
While this sudden influx of Indian-Americans on television might be a fluke, I hope it's a sign of things to come -- a television landscape as diverse as the country around us.
-- Malavika Jagannathan, email@example.com