Seth MacFarlane’s new sitcom, Dads, hasn’t hit the airwaves yet, but it’s already experiencing trouble. Guy Aoki, founding president of watchdog group MANAA, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, wrote a public letter to Fox yesterday asking for scenes he deemed racist in the pilot for the live action Seth Green/Giovanni Ribisi sitcom to be reshot.
“Our community can’t continue to be the target of racially insensitive jokes,” writes Aoki. He also mentions the poor early reviews the pilot has received from critics, adding, “We are asking you to reshoot the inappropriate scenes of the pilot. Considering the consistent feedback from our community and television critics in general – and the creators saying they hadn’t properly defined their characters nor gotten used to their actors when they shot that first episode – this sounds like a no-brainer.”
Aoki, who also went after Sarah Silverman with MANAA in 2001 for using a racial slur on Conan, says the show’s “racial and sexual stereotypes” include actress Brenda Song dressing as a “sexy Asian schoolgirl” to please visiting Chinese businessmen and a line in which Martin Mull’s character calls the businessmen “Orientals.” Aoki writes, “[N]o one corrected him (will he later call blacks ‘negroes?’). He later warned his son that he couldn’t trust the Chinese, that ‘there’s a reason Shanghai’s a verb.’ Supposedly all was made right when the Chinese agreed to the deal after the ‘creepy interpreter’ sent a picture of his penis to Song, who, predictably, said that it was tiny.”
“These guys are going to try to test a lot of boundaries,” Fox boss Kevin Reilly says. “They are going to try to be equal-opportunity offenders. Do I think all the jokes right now are in calibration in the pilot? I don’t. But I can tell you right now, I have never seen a comedy in which all the jokes are in calibration. That’s the nature of comedy.” The show’s producer, Mike Scully, explains, “We don’t want this to be the racial-insult comedy show. It’s a comedy about fathers and sons and you want to strike that relatable thing.”