If you thought 2017 was the year for South Asian-Americans to shine on television, just wait till the new year begins. It’s going to be a doozy. A bevy of talent will grace us in 2018, including quite a few new shows and some returning shows, all of which star skilled desi actors.
Here are the TV shows to look forward to in 2018.
1. “Alex, Inc.” (ABC)
In this upcoming comedy, comedy genius Zach Braff (“Scrubs”) stars as Alex Schuman, a radio journalist who quits his job to lead his own podcast start-up. His wife, Noush Schuman, is played by Tiya Sircar (“The Internship”). Based on the trailer, it looks like we’re in for a biracial relationship grounded in reality (mortgage, kids, commitment) and not playing on stereotypes, which is all we need. Sircar is no stranger to the screen. She’s appeared on “The Vampire Diaries,” “The Mindy Project,” “Master of None,” and “Star Wars: Forces of Destiny” but this will be her first as lead on a primetime show.
2. “The Resident” (FOX)
Medical dramas are all the rage right now so it’s no wonder that Manish Dayal (“Viceroy’s House”) is scrubbing in for this new show. He plays Dr. Devon Pravesh, a brand new doctor being supervised and mentored by senior resident Dr. Conrad Hawkins (Matt Czuchry, “The Good Wife”). Hawkins is a rebellious, unconventional but skilled doctor who trains Pravesh to follow in his footsteps. The drama looks intense, has a great cast, and is seemingly emotional. Plus, if a medical drama doesn’t include a desi doctor, is it even a real medical drama.
3. “Champions” (NBC)
If you thought the end of “The Mindy Project” meant no more Mindy Kaling, think again. The actress is producing this upcoming comedy about two brothers, gym owner Vince (Anders Holm) and his idiotic brother Matthew (Andy Favreau). Life is smooth sailing for the two bachelors until one day, the former’s ex-fling Priya (Kaling) surprisingly drops their 15-year-old genius son at his doorstep. The comedy also stars two other South Asian actresses in lead roles. “The Vampire Diaries” actress Mouzam Makkar plays Britney, Vince’s girlfriend, and “Namaste London” actress Nina Wadia plays Lubna, a salon owner/business rival to Vince. As always, Kudos to Kaling and her team are repping us on-screen.
4. “Reverie” (NBC)
“Heroes” alum Sendhil Ramamurthy is making a TV comeback with his series regular role on this new psychological drama. He plays Paul Hammond, a creator of a virtual reality dream world, which begins experiencing issues when people go into the structured alternate universes but don’t come back. That’s when one of the best detectives Mara Kint (Iranian-American actress Sarah Shahi) is brought in to help. The show checks all the right boxes: emotional, thrilling, and diverse.
5. “A.P. Bio” (NBC)
Another brand new comedy from the network, this centers on a talented but grumpy professor Jack (Glenn Howerton) who misses out in his dream job and is stuck at a local high school teaching, you guessed it, A.P. Bio. Instead of imparting wisdom to his students, he uses their skills to take revenge on his nemesis. Aparna Brielle, whose credits include “Grimm” and “The Librarians,” will play straight-A, career-driven student Sarika. While it’s a little obvious that the South Asian character is the smarty of the group, here’s hoping the comedy breaks the norm.
6. “Quantico” (ABC)
Priyanka Chopra’s much-awaited FBI drama will premiere it’s third season in early 2018. After two successful years on-air, the drama took a break for this fall TV season to prepare for it’s many behind-the-scenes twists. It was renewed for a shortened 13 episode season 3 at the eleventh hour, showrunner Joshua Saffran exited, as did Lebanese-American actress Yasmine-Al-Massri, who played twins Nimah and Raina since the pilot. However, it’s because of Chopra’s international acclaim that “Quantico” will make a triumphant return.
7. “iZombie” (The CW)
Rahul Kohli, a British actor of South Asian descent, is probably the best part of this comedic zombie drama. In it, he plays the charming, goofy medical examiner Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti, who is on a mission to find a cure for the zombie virus that has taken over Seattle once he learns his colleague Liv (Rose McIver) is infected, as well. You’d think a show about the undead would be gory and gross but “iZombie” manages to add humor, heart, suspense to the mix. It’s anticipated fourth season premieres in early 2018.
8. “Designated Survivor” (ABC)
If you want a world where a Muslim-American isn’t only discriminated against but does a fine job as the Press Secretary, look no further. Kal Penn plays Seth Wright, who starts off the show as a speech writer for the President but climbs up the ladder fairly quickly. The show is a political drama about Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland), who unexpectedly becomes POTUS after the bombing of The Capitol. It’s packed with intense twists and turns but hey, at least in this scenario, you can root for the President. Season 2 will resume in January 2018.
9. “The Magicians” (SyFy
This science-fiction drama, based on a book of the same name, focuses on Brakebill University for Magical Pedagogy where students learn magic. It boasts a great cast including Arjun Gupta (“How to Get Away with Murder”), Summer Bishil (“Lucky 7”), and Rizwan Manji (“Mr. Robot”). The show is an underrated gem, filled with moments of fun and suspense. To top it all, it features three actors of South Asian descent who are killing it. Season 3 premieres on Jan 10, 2018.
10. “The Good Place” (NBC)
In this phenomenal and witty comedy, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) meets an untimely death and goes to heaven or the good place. She learns that only the best of the best humans are allowed here and because she was pretty terrible, she must be there by some error. Her neighbor in this good place is Pakistani-British socialite Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil), the epitome of perfection. Jamil’s brilliance shines with every episode. Tiya Sircar also stars as the “real” Eleanor and she is terrific. Season 2 resumes on Jan 4, 2018.