By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Daylight savings is officially underway which means shorter days and more reasons to stay inside. Fortunately, there are some great movies and television shows out to help you survive the next few months. Read on to see what’s playing and streaming near you.
Asian Americans take on action films
Actor Dave Bautista currently stars in the newest James Bond flick “Spectre”. Bautista, who is of partial Filipino descent, plays the role of Mr. Hinx who will be the primary villain in the film.
Readers may know Bautista more from his lengthy career in professional sports which includes wrestling and mixed martial arts. Other fans may recognize Bautista for his role in the superhero movie “Guardians of the Galaxy” where he played Drax the Destroyer. “Spectre” is now playing in theaters.
Actress Naomi Scott has signed a deal to play the Pink Ranger in the upcoming reboot of the “Power Rangers”. Yes, millennial readers, you read that correctly—a movie reboot of the beloved children’s action show is in the works! Scott, who was recently seen in the dramas “The Martian” and “The 33,” is British and of partial Indian descent.
The new reboot will borrow a similar plotline from the children’s show of the ’90s where ordinary high school kids—with one played by Scott—will have the power to transform into martial arts superheroes who must save the world. The “Power Rangers” reboot will be released in early 2017.
What’s happening and ahead for television
Fans of the cult comedy series “Harold and Kumar” will be delighted to know that actor Kal Penn is teaming up with the creators of the “Harold and Kumar” movies to create a new sitcom titled “Fair and Balanced”. The in-progress show for ABC will focus on a young reporter, played by Penn, who aims to land a job at NPR but ends up taking a role in cable news instead. The show’s title is allegedly a clever nod at Fox News’s trademark slogan, so there is speculation that the show will be a satirical news-comedy show. Call me intrigued.
Penn has had a curious career since his “Harold and Kumar” days. In addition to taking on guest and starring roles on past television shows, Penn’s resume also includes a stint working as an associate director in President Obama’s Office of Public Engagement as well as guest lecturing for the University of Pennsylvania’s film studies program. Perhaps his time working in the government and education will serve him well as a journalist on this show. “Fair and Balanced” is currently in development with more details being released in the coming months.
NBC recently announced the development of two new sitcoms featuring storylines with prominent Indian American characters. A family comedy named “I Love Lakshmi” is reportedly in development. The project, which is co-written by writers Muffy Bolding and Doug Prochilo, is inspired by Prochilo’s real-life experiences marrying into an Indian family. Prochilo is white and married to Universal TV President Bela Bajaria who is Indian American.
“I Love Lakshmi” follows the ups and downs of new parents, Danny and Lakshmi, as they deal with Lakshmi’s immigrant parents—whose version of the American Dream never included a white son-in-law. The show clearly borrows its title from the beloved sitcom “I Love Lucy,” which also revolved around a similar plotline and dynamic. I’m hoping this show doesn’t make caricatures out of the Indian parents, but it’s too early to tell. Otherwise, this is an interesting show to keep tabs on in the coming year.
Another NBC Indian American-themed comedy, “Pre-Madonna,” is also under development.
Written by filmmaker Nisha Ganatra and inspired by her adolescence, this project follows an Indian American teen named Sarita Gupta as she enters a Chicago high school in 1983, and follows her as she navigates the awkward yet hilarious intersection of adolescence and the ’80s. Ganatra is best known for having directed three of the 10 episodes of the Golden Globe-winning streaming television show “Transparent”.
Lastly, “Master of None” is now streaming on Netflix! The 10-episode comedy stars comedian and actor Aziz Ansari who also co-created and produces the series. If you’re a fan of critically-acclaimed shows such as “Louie” or “Girls,” I recommend this show which has a similar structure and execution. Ansari is funny, smart and poignant in episodes that highlight the Asian American experience from immigrant parents to dealing with race at work. (end)
Vivian Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.