2015 was the tipping point for South Asians on TV
In the fourth episode of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, a younger version of the show’s protagonist watches a montage of Hollywood’s most notable Indian characters. There are older examples — like Hadji from Jonny Quest and the Indian scientist from Short Circuit 2, who’s actually just white actor Fisher Stevens in dark makeup — and a few recent-ish ones, like Ashton Kutcher doing brownface for a Pop Chips commercial in 2012.
Needless to say, none of them are exactly nuanced or flattering.
But what’s missing from the montage is what has happened over the last few years: the dawning era of Ansari and Mindy Kaling, of Aasif Mandvi and then Hasan Minhaj on The Daily Show, of South Asian stand-up comedians like Kumail Nanjiani, Hari Kondabolu, and Aparna Nancherla, of massive posters of Priyanka Chopra‘s face promoting Quantico all over the country. Read more…