For many South Asian creators and artists in the diaspora, a web series is the easiest way to put out meaningful content. It allows them to tell their story, a story that you don’t see too often on the big screen. A good web series has the potential to transform into a television show and reaching an even bigger audience. Issa Rae’s “Insecure” and Abbi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer’s “Broad City” are great examples.
Here are some of the exceptional web series created by, written, and/or starring South Asian-Americans. Some of them are funny, some of them are poignant, and some of them don’t necessarily dwell on desi roots. Despite their time limits or number of episodes, each of them has a unique story to tell.
1. “Brown Girls”
Created by Fatimah Asgarh and Sam Bailey, “Brown Girls” centers on two best friends; queer South Asian-American writer Leila and a sex-positive Black-American Patricia. Despite coming from very different backgrounds, the two women portray a beautiful, supportive friendship as they navigate their lives. The show is representative of the real world and doesn’t shy from tackling topical themes.
2. “Geeta’s Guide to Moving On”
Actress Puja Mohindra knows breakups are tough. Her own inspired her to create and star in “Geeta’s Guide to Moving On,” in which she plays Geeta Gidwani. Geeta is an Indian-American whose Prince Charming-like Indian-American boyfriend dups her after 10 years of dating. She moves back home with her parents and with the help of her family and friends, learns how to let go.
Karan Sunil created and wrote this dramedy web series about five Chicago-based South Asian-American roommates as they figure out how to adapt to two cultures while figuring out their careers, love lives, and the pressures of society. Think a modern, diverse “Friends” that desis can actually relate to.
4. “Gym Buddies”
In this Shruti Saran-created five episode web series, the focus is less on specific South Asian experiences and more on the normal lives of Indian-American Aparna and her best friend Quinn. Aparna convinces Quinn to join the gym, something they both quite detest, and it ensues hilarious hijinks.
5. “The FOB and I”
Created and written by Meenakshi Ramamurthy, This web series focuses on two women, Indian-American Jisha and her cousin Sati, who is fresh off the boat from India. They share an apartment in Hollywood and over time, they learn how similar they are despite the differences in their upbringing. They find a way to take on and then appreciate each others cultures.
6. “Shugs and Fats”
Written by and starring Pakistani-American Nadia Manzoor and Indian-American Radhika Vaz, “Shugs and Fats” is a remarkable comedy web series. It embodies cultural commentary with slapstick humor through the lens of Shugs and Fats, two hijabi women living in Brooklyn, New York.
7. “Shayla Hates Celebrities”
In Shonali Bhowmik‘s web series, she stars as the celebrity-obsessed Shayla, who quits her dead-end corporate job to pursue an all new pop culture-fueled adventure. She goes all out to live the celebrity lifestyle, even though she isn’t really one. All she has is active social media accounts.
8. “Arun Considers”
Creator and star Arun Narayanan‘s web series has won multiple film festival awards. In the less than two minute episodes, Narayanan walks through the LA streets, with each episode focusing on his inner thoughts. Whether it’s his take on “The Matrix,” on white girls, or on heroin, Arun considers it all. Literally.
9. “Swiped to Death”
This web series takes on the world of online dating. Directed by and starring Kabir Chopra as Jay, “Swiped to Death” is about two New Yorkers and their ups and downs of searching for dates and love via social media and apps. It leaves them emotionally and ‘textually’ drained.
Indo-Canadian creator Rakhi Mutta’s web series “Anarkali” centers on the titular character, played by actress Kiran Rai. Anarkali is dumped by her fiancé about two months before the big wedding. She relies on her friends to help her move on. The strength of the series lies in its ability to navigate through the modern times and traditional expectations of our culture.