Watchdog Group Demands Redo of Sitcom’s ‘Racist’ Scenes

A young Asian woman (Brenda Song) costumed as a schoolgirl in the Fox sitcom "Dads" has been deemed offensive by an Asian-American watchdog group. Seth Green stars in the show (Photo: Fox)

An Asian-American watchdog group is accusing the new Fox sitcom “Dads” of trafficking in “racial and sexual stereotypes.”

The group, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), is demanding that the offending portions of the show be edited out before the show premieres Sept. 17 on Fox.

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The group’s founder, Gary Aoki, has fired off a letter to the producers of “Dads” and Fox network officials complaining about the show, according to this story on the Hollywood Reporter Web site.

In the sitcom, which is slated for Tuesday nights at 8/7c this fall, two 20-something men — Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi — have their lives disrupted when their outspoken fathers move in with them (Martin Mull and Peter Riegert).

The older characters in particular are given to uttering politically incorrect statements and opinions, such as the Mull character’s use of the word “Orientals” to describe “Asians” — which is one of the things this watchdog group is complaining about.

The series is the first “live-action” TV comedy (as opposed to animation) from Fox animation superstar Seth MacFarlane — which gives a hint of the sort of content the show contains.

According to the letter from MANAA — which is quoted in various stories — the show contains “racial and sexual stereotypes” that the group describes as “fatal flaws” and deems to be “inappropriate.”

"Our community can't continue to be the target of racially insensitive jokes," Aoki is quoted as writing. "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 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."

In the letter, Aoki complained about one character, a young Asian woman who was dressed as a schoolgirl to attract the attention of Chinese businessmen in the premiere episode. It's one of the "racial and sexual stereotypes" Aoki cites in his letter.

Indeed, the stereotypes that are apparently rife in this sitcom were the topic of a heated session at the recent TV press tour in Los Angeles where reporters and critics closely questioned the series’ creators about the racial references.

There was no immediate reaction on Friday from officials of the show or Fox to Aoki’s letter.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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