Today, Variety reported that ABC is currently developing a television series about a former Bollywood star living in America, with Hollywood and Bollywood it-girl Priyanka Chopra executive producing.
The premise, according to Variety:
The currently untitled single-camera series would follow a former Bollywood star who settles down in the suburbs of America with her bi-cultural family and tries to bring her colorful lifestyle to an otherwise dull town. The series is based on the real life of Madhuri Dixit, who will also executive produce.
Sounds like a cute and fun cultural clash of a show! I’m assuming the pilot will give us some classic miscommunication chuckles about the actress mistaking someone for her personal driver or housecleaner and maybe even a song-and-dance sequence or two. Either way, it’ll be nice to see a “bi-cultural” family on television (we don’t know what race the main character’s husband will be yet) and another South Asian-led show to join the ranks of Master of None, The Mindy Project, and Chopra’s very own Quantico. (Also, good on Chopra for pulling a Shonda and leveraging her own success to get more stories of color out there.)
But this news also brings up the question of the kinds of families of color that have their authentic stories told on television. Between black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, and now potentially this show, ABC’s shows about families of color tend to skew upper-middle class (although ABC’s programming in general is very middle class).
Part of this is most likely a much-needed rejection of the decades of offensive stereotypes that pollute the way people of color have been represented in media. But by focusing repeatedly on the same kind of high-achieving, financially successful, two-parent, heteronormative families, this also risks spreading the idea that those sorts of stories are the only ones worth telling. It could make it harder to sell stories about people of color who fall outside those depictions—and they exist!
Of course, black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat are great shows with deep and relatable characters. And each show does explore what it means to be successful as people of color in the US, reflecting the experiences of some of their audiences.
But it’s interesting that with the potential addition of Chopra’s show, ABC is continuing to give us the same kind of ‘financially successful people of color in white suburban America’ show a third time over. While it’s most likely a case of wanting to replicate a winning formula, it does raise the question of what ABC views of what a TV-worthy family of color looks like.
Even so, I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised, and I’m just excited to see another show featuring people of color—and an interracial family at that.