What do Kal Penn Modi, Parminder Nagra, and Sendhil Ramamurthy all have in common? Let me give you a hint Kal Penn, Sendhil, and Parminder are all doctors on television. I was speaking to a friend on the telephone the other day and he pointed this out to me. My friend actually was a bit upset about this. My pal says that he would like to see South Asian American actors move beyond the TV doctor stereotype. It got me thinking is it a stereotype for South Asians to be doctors on TV? It is true it would be nice if South Asian American actors could play other roles on television and not just be the noble good doctor. I do think its positive to see young Asian American actors on television.
Parminder’s character Dr. Neela Rasgotra is perhaps the most complex out of the three. Dr. Rasgotra has professional life and a love life. Neela has grieved the death of her soldier husband, fallen in love with a coworker, and she is by no means perfect she is flawed and she is a multi dimensional person.
I have noticed that Sendhil Ramamurthy’s character Dr. Mohinder Suresh on the NBC hit Heroes is just kind of there. We know Mohinder has conflicts with his father not living up to his dad’s expectations. However, I think Mohinder only kissed a girl once on the show and then she died. Mohinder is one of the main characters on Heroes so why doesn’t he have a more complete storyline? We don’t really know him. When will Mohinder have a love life? The only “lovelife” Mohinder has is a homoerotic storyline that many bloggers have “suggested” is taking place between Mohinder and Matt Parkman. I do kind of see what the bloggers are saying Matt and Mohinder do have a chemistry. Matt and Mohinder play a kind of “my two dads” storyline taking care of young Molly. So will NBC allow Mohinder and Matt to become gay lovers? Is Mohinder straight or gay? Or is the homoerotic subtext just my mind wandering?
Kalpen Suresh Modi is also a doctor on the FOX program “House” his character is the intern Kutner. I don’t know what to think of Kalpen’s character since he hardly has a storyline. I was shocked. The only reason I even bother to watch “House” was because Kal Penn was on the program. Kalpen is the most famous intern on the show so its surprising to me that his character doesn’t have a storyline. Was it just stunt casting to get more viewers to watch House? The episodes I have watched Kunter is just the life of the party he never has anything to do that is serious of connected to the plot of the program. Kalpen was in the drama “The Namesake” this year so he is growing as an actor. It would be nice if Parminder and Sendhill got similar opportunities to demonstrate their acting skills beyond the limited characters they play on television.
Watching this clip of Malcolm X makes me realize the discussion about House Negroes and Field Negroes exists today. Of course we are all individuals we have a right to have divergent points of view and perspectives. I am not suggesting that there needs to be a collective mentality taking place. However, we cannot change the fact as the scholar bell hooks says race always matters. It doesn’t matter how much power or money you acquire to ignore race is to ignore reality.
When I think about black people like Condoleezza Rice and Clarence Thomas its clear to me that Malcolm X comments makes perfect sense. Sure, Rice and Thomas are blacks with very powerful positions in society but they also follow the status quo. Thomas and Rice certainly don’t give a damn about the black race all they care about is maintaining the power they have acquired. Malcolm X wasn’t perfect but he loved black people and he cared deeply about the black race.