Bad Indians - In The News
This series is a great example of when successful television formulas are smartly adapted to reflect actual people, rather than idealized and romanticized relationships. Through their nuanced portrayals of Neal and Lena, two South Asian Americans in their early thirties looking for love and personal validation in L.A., Shawn Parikh and Devanshi Patel make a hilarious and loveable pair.
“There are a few gut-busting moments in the show when characters seem to speak as if they are the consciences of every second generation desi.”
The pilot for Bad Indians has been likened to Will & Grace, but the comparison doesn’t do it justice. Neal is more than a stereotypical nance (the flamboyant gay character from Hollywood’s colorful, homophobic past) and Lena isn’t just a hopeless narcissist. Even when she’s complaining about a date directly to viewers during one of the first of many brilliant fourth-wall-breaking moments, it’s easy to sympathize with Lena’s quiet desperation for something more than a good Indian man to bring home to the family.
There are a few gut-busting moments in the show when characters seem to speak as if they are the consciences of every second generation desi, and embody everything we wish we could say in response to the probing questions about our careers and love lives from nosey aunties, rude uncles and overbearing parents. But both Neal and Lena’s narratives remain distinct throughout the first two episodes, and viewers become privy to their individual struggles and triumphs through endearing vignettes of their day-to-day lives.
Lena works at a small boutique, where she sneaks her originally designed, handmade jewelry onto the accessory racks for some exposure. Neal runs into a fellow struggling actor — also desi — who he feels obligated to suck up to, but who he blames for stealing his limelight. The trivialities of daily life become sardonic observations through Neal and Lena’s quarter-life crisis lenses, and viewers get to ride along on this sarcastic, ultimately delightful voyage.
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Anjali Misra is a Chicago-based nonprofit professional and freelance writer of media reviews, cultural criticism and short fiction work. She earned her MA in gender and women’s studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she spent nine years as a student and community organizer, focusing on inter-ethnic solidarity, interracial coalition building, and gender justice. She is an avid sci-fi media fan, and Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan is her patronus.