The new comedy Super Simple Love Story looks like another missed opportunity to put people of colour front and centre
The entertainment news site Deadline.com has just announced that actors Ronny Chieng and Susan Wokoma have been cast in a pilot for a new comedy called Super Simple Love Story. Since it is still unusual to see interracial couples in American comedies, news that a black British woman and a Chinese-Malaysian-Australian guy were starring in a show together got a lot of people excited. Until they read past the very misleading headline, that is, and realised that the pair were actually being cast as the ethnic-minority friends of the white leads. Which felt like a boring, Super-Cali Very Lazy Frustrating and Atrocious TV trope.
We all know the Ethnic Best Friend (EBF): its the go-to trope for screenwriters who cant be bothered with meaningful diversity but want to inject some token colour on screen. While the EBF comes in various guises, the Sassy Black Woman and Nerdy Asian Guy are popular variants. From Deadlines description of the show, it feels like Wokoma is on track to be stereotypically sassy, while Chieng will be unimaginatively awkward.
Chieng plays a guy who loves to debate and ruins social interactions. Meanwhile, Wokoma is happy to hate her job as long as the cheque clears and wantonly hits on cute rabbi, Sarah. (Not going to lie: that bit made me perk up.)
Now, obviously the show hasnt aired yet, so it is possible that Chieng and Wokoma will portray three-dimensional characters and not just be props for the white leads. It is possible that Im getting worked up about tired stereotypes for nothing; as an Angry Brown Woman I do occasionally find it hard to be rational. Nevertheless, considering it is 2019 and all, I do wish we could kill off the EBF cliche. Not literally, mind you. Dont even get me started on the Black Dude Dies First trope.
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