A fall pilot for a Fox show called "Dads" that features Seth Green and Martin Mull makes fun of Asians and even uses the word "oriental."
That's the take away from the L.A.-based Media Action Network for Asian Americans, which this week shot a letter off to a group of top executives at the network, including Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly, decrying the show and asking for an immediate fix:
The plot of the pilot, some of which can be seen here, involves a meeting with Chinese businessmen.
The Asian American character Veronica (played by Brenda Song) is told to dress up like a schoolgirl, and Seth Green's character suggests that she giggle with hands over her mouth, as a way to curry favor with the businessmen.
At one point Martin Mull's character, one of the dads, uses the word "oriental." And he tells his son that the overseas visitors shouldn't be trusted: "There's a reason Shanghai's a verb."
There's also an Asian-men-have-small-penises joke too, apparently.
In a letter to Fox exutivies Guy Aoki, founding president of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), says:
MANAA does not understand how this episode could be seen by the top executives at Fox without anyone pushing for major changes ...
... Our community can't continue to be the target of racially insensitive jokes. Fox has an opportunity to fix fatal flaws in the pilot and to improve the show's chances for success when it premieres next month. We are asking you to re-shoot the inappropriate scenes of the pilot.
(We spotted a stereotypical Latina immigrant maid in the pilot, too, by the way).
The show's marketing summary: "Dads follows two successful best friends whose lives get turned upside down when their pain-in-the-neck patriarchs move in."
It's billed as a product of Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy" ), Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. MacFarlane gets away with a lot on "Family Guy" (and not without criticism), mainly because it's funny and because it seems all people, including whites, are fair game.
But this show doesn't seem to be funny. Aoki argues in his letter that it was deemed a dud after it was screened before the Television Critics Association: "This pilot is universally despised."
The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman said in a critique that "not only is the show not funny, it has heavily racist overtones for Asians."
Aoki reserves particular ire for producer Sulkin, whom he says Tweeted this after the 2011 Japanese tsunami:
If you wanna feel better about this earthquake in Japan, google 'Pearl Harbor death toll.'
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Aoki wrote this on his Facebook page this week:
Given the level of hostility we felt in the "Dads" pilot, perhaps it should come as no surprise that Sulkin's involved.
It's too bad. This show has mad talent, from MacFarlane to his pal Green to an old fave of ours, Mull. But already feels dead in the water to us. We reached out to Fox for its response but, like MANAA, had yet to hear back.