Are we moving forward at all? Getting too sensitive? Not being sensitive enough? According to Deadline, critics at the Summer TV Press Tour bashed Fox's new show Dads — premiering in September — as racist and sexist. However, the site speculated that this could actually help the show, since the controversy is reminiscent of the debate over 2 Broke Girls, which ended up being a hit for CBS.
Dads is produced by Seth MacFarlane and some others behind Family Guy and Ted. It has a great cast, including Giovanni Ribisi and Seth Green playing Warner and Eli, two successful video game developers whose fathers move in with them. Martin Mull and Peter Riegert play the fathers.
According to Deadline, the on-screen dads provide some of the questionable humor; in one case, one of the fathers sees a boxing match on TV and asks his son if he's watching Punch The Puerto Rican.
Giovanni and Seth's characters also reportedly tell their Asian female employee, played by former Disney star Brenda Song (The Suite Life of Zack & Cody), to dress up as a sexy Asian schoolgirl to impress Chinese clients.
The actors defended the show's humor. “I’ve never done anything in 43 years that somebody didn’t find offensive,” Peter said. Seth argued, “Just to be fair, this is a disparaging portrayal of white men.” (‘Cause that’s fair?)
Brenda said when she first saw that sexy Asian schoolgirl scene in the script, she told herself, “All right, Brenda, this is your job." It sounds like she just wants to act alongside such a great cast and she'll take what she can get. She also defended the writing by saying she herself has made jokes like “I’m Asian – I’m really good at math,” and when guys she doesn't like hit on her, she's said, “Ah, sorry. I no speak English.”
Are you curious to check out this show? It has a good cast but ... it's probably not for the easily (or ever) offended. Maybe it will find its audience, perhaps even a big one. We'll see.
UPDATE: According to the New York Post, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans sent a letter to Fox officials asking for the pilot episode to be reshot: “Our community can’t continue to be the target of racially insensitive jokes,” MANAA founding president Guy Aoki wrote. “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.”
In addition to the sexy Asian schoolgirl scene, he also called out Martin Mull's character referring to Asians as "Orientals." “[N]o one corrected him (will he later call blacks ‘negroes?’),” Aoki wrote. “He later warned his son that he couldn’t trust the Chinese, that ‘there’s a reason Shanghai’s a verb.’”