Television shows are a fragile game. Tons of creativity goes into developing them but not all see light of day, even if they deserve to. While there are several shows today that feature brilliant South Asian artists, it’s important to know about the work that goes on behind the scenes to represent us on screen.
We highlight the pioneering actors, writers, producers from the diaspora who are putting their best foot forward for multi-dimensional and groundbreaking representation. Here are all the potential TV shows you may or may not get to enjoy.
1. “Make Divya Great Again” (The CW)
Writer Devanshi Patel, whose credits include “black-ish” and “Ground Floor,” sold her recent dramedy to the network a few weeks ago. “Make Divya Great Again” is about Divya, an Indian-American woman whose parents are forcing her to get married. To avoid this, she invents the perfect Indian boyfriend. All her lies catch up to her when she becomes the prime suspect in her ex-fiance’s accidental but comical death. Patel promises the show will bust stereotypes while giving us a new heroine to root for. The CW has great luck with dramedies with “Jane the Virgin,” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” Here’s hoping they give a real shot to this show.
2. “Brown Girls” (HBO)
This Emmy-nominated OpenTV web series is being adapted by HBO for a full blown TV show on the lines of Issa Rae’s “Insecure.” Written by Fatimah Asgarh, it focuses on two women of color; Leila, a queer Muslim writer and Patricia, a sex-positive African-American musician. In an age of female comedies driven by white actors, it’s refreshing to see a friendship so real and relatable to us on-screen. We can’t wait to see how they bring it alive for TV.
3. “Model Minorities” (FOX)
A family comedy that focuses on the Indian-American lifestyle? We’re sold. As is FOX, which is why they’ve given pilot commitment to “Model Minorities,” a show about an educated Indian-American who moves in with his very rich but uneducated immigrant cousin. It hails from Sanjay Shah, the co-executive producer of popular comedy “Fresh off the Boat.” His credits include “Cougar Town,” “King of the Hill,” and “South Park.” The plot sounds intriguing and one we can’t wait to see play out.
4. “World’s End” (TBS)
Two veteran South Asian-American actors, Aasif Mandvi and Ajay Naidu, have signed on as series regulars for this dark comedy. Based on an Icelandic series, it follows a high school English teacher who has a break down and ends up in a mental institution. Once there and getting better, he realizes the hospital isn’t all what it seems and begins a revolt. Mandvi plays the head of this hospital and Naidu plays a mathematics wizard who becomes an important part of the revolt. It will accompany other critically acclaimed TBS comedies like “Search Party” and “People of Earth.”
5. “Untitled Sikh Law Drama” (NBC)
Sunil Nayyar is bringing us our very first drama with a Sikh lawyer as a lead. Protagonist Amrita Kaur is an optimistic law student working at a renegade student-raw law firm. They take on some of the country’s biggest issues with the aim of giving voice to the voiceless. Nothing has seemed timelier than this show. Nayyar has previously worked on shows like “Revenge,” “CSI: Miami,” and “Body of Proof.” Here’s hoping we get to see this drama played out.
6. “Untitled Priyanka Chopra/Madhuri Dixit-Nene Sitcom” (ABC)
After winning hearts with her badass characters in “Quantico” and “Baywatch,” actress Priyanka Chopra is taking her talents behind the scenes. She’s producing a comedy series about a Bollywood actress who moves the the American suburbs. Her jovial personality brings to life her dreary neighborhood. The show is based on the life of Bollywood legend Madhuri Dixit-Nene and when she lived in the Denver, Colorado. Writer Sri Rao of “General Hospital” is penning the pilot, Dixit-Nene’s husband will co-produce. Two iconic Bollywood queens bringing their culture to American audiences? What’s not to love.
7. “Oasis” (Amazon)
In the tech giant’s search for it’s own “Game of Thrones,” Amazon produced “Oasis,” whose first episode debuted in March 2017. Despite getting positive reviews, it hasn’t been picked up for a full season just yet, which is a shame. The show stars Richard Madden as a priest in 2032, when the Earth has gone to shambles and people have moved on to a new colony, oasis. Bollywood star Anil Kapoor plays the commander-in-chief of that colony, Vikram Danesh. Kapoor has made waves in the Western media with “Slumdog Millionaire” and “24.” We hope Amazon decides to make more episodes so we can see him in action.
8. “Making Friends” (Amazon)
“Rules of Engagement” star Adhir Kalyan is set to star as the lead in this comedy as Mark, an expert engineer with a knack for making robots. Instead of hanging out with real people, he ends up spending all his time with these artifically intelligent creatures. The show comes from the same duo who created comedy hits like “How I Met Your Mother.” This means great humor and storytelling. Hopefully, Mark won’t be yet another smart but elusive smart Indian guy we see on television.
9. “Fatwa” (Showtime)
Mandvi has got more tricks up his sleeve. Besides “World’s End,” the comedian will also star in “Fatwa,” which he is collaborating on with writer-producer Dave Holstein. He’ll play cartoonist LK Hussein who starts receiving death threats and it turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to him. Mandvi has a long and impressive resume including his own webshow “Halal in the Family,” “Shut Eye,” and “Mother’s Day.” Obviously, he’ll bring depth and uniqueness to his character and the plot, one that we can’t wait to see play out.