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How does the portrayal of a character like Apu matter? What does the representation of South Asian TV characters tell us about society at...

How does the portrayal of a character like Apu matter? What does the representation of South Asian TV characters tell us about society at large?  In her new book, South Asians on the U.S. Screen: Just Like Everyone Else? (Lexington Books, 2018), Bhoomi Thakore uses interviews and audience studies to explore these questions and more. By having participants list South Asian characters they’ve seen on TV, she learns a lot about representation in addition to the positive and negative characteristics attributed to these characters. Often times South Asians are relegated to minor characters in shows and Thakore explores how The Mindy Project breaks out of this mold. Exploring ideas and concepts including “forever foreigners,” assimilation, and acculturation, Thakore analyzes this media sociologically. The book also sheds light on the portrayal of South Asian female characters specifically, as well as how some shows emphasize the “every-day”-ness of some South Asian characters versus those portrayed as tokens. Overall, this work highlights important aspects that viewers of these shows may miss in passing. Thakore concludes by giving readers insights from the analysis at hand, but also provides larger insights in terms of racial relations and media portrayals in general.

This book is interesting and accessible to a wide audience. Folks interested in general sociology, race/ethnicity, or media studies will find the book enjoyable. This book would be useful for an upper level sociology of race/ethnicity course as well as graduate level courses, especially those that focus on race/ethnicity or media studies.


Sarah E. Patterson is a postdoc at the University of Western Ontario. You can tweet her at @spattersearch.