New CBS-WB Sitcom has a Muslim Pakistani character – does it stereotype and offend?

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The New York Times reported yesterday of a new CBS Paramount Network Television and Warner-Bros Television joint sitcom to be aired in the USA from today that has a Pakistani character.

“Aliens in America” is a sitcom that stars Raja Musharraf as Adhir Kalyan, a foreign exchange Muslim-Pakistani that lives with an American family. According to the NYTimes article (which I recommend reading) the theme is similar to shows like “My Favorite Martian” or “Bewitched” or “Alf” in that the lead character (Dan Byrd) befriends a character which would be otherwise be an impossible character to befriend, and thereby carries on a constant struggle to defend such weird alien character from the harshness of the world around him who in the show would constantly NOT understand that weird alien creature. The difference is that this time around that weird alien creature that everyone fails to understand is a muslim-pakistani — they honestly couldn’t find a more extreme “alien”?

The trouble is that as I was reading the NYTimes article I went from being offended to being confused and curious — from what the article quotes, the show describes a family where the 16-yr old lead character has such a lack of a social life that the family decides to “take in” a foreign exchange student for an “instant, do-it-yourself social life” by studying “brochures with samples”. When the exchange student turns out to be a Pakistani, there is talks of “returning him” with dialog like “If I ordered a coffee maker and got a toaster, I’d return that”. Other people worry that the student might be a terrorist.

However, later in the show they depict the Pakistani character as a devout kind-hearted religious person with exceptional manners.

I’d give massive kudos to NYTimes for writing a very objective article and also criticizing the offensive parts of the theme.

But I also want to hear some direct feedback from some expat Pakistanis who’ve seen the show – what did you think of it? Does it portray a nice objective view or does it stereotype and offend?

Facebook comments:


  • Thanks! I’ll love for a torrent or http download link.

  • “Raja Musharraf as Adhir Kalyan” or “Adhir Kalyan as Raja Musharraf”

  • Muhammad Asif Razzaque

    I read this a few days back while searching for new movie titles 😉

    Indeed a very interesting and most relevant subject to undertake atthis socio-religio-political juncture.

    I think this should positively affect the American society when it comes to understanding Muslim beliefs and practices. This show shall be able to make the audience appreciate the social dynamics of integrating two different cultures and religious beliefs.

    Looking from outside at a daily life situation develop, settle and conclude at the end of each play shall assist the American society come to terms with the different manifestation of our human beliefs that are majorly the same.

    Good effort I must say. Someone was asking for a torrent link?!

  • Muhammad Asif Razzaque

    [Ersalan]…Its Adhir Kalyan as Raja Musharraf.

  • I actually saw the show yesterday and i was very impressed with the way they have tired to address issues by showing the teacher and students attacking (verbally) the pakistani character and him handling it very calmly and trying to explain in calm fashion to the family he is living with.
    It looked offensive to start with with words like muslimism and we all hate you but i think this will lead to the right path if the sitcom is done right. i’m dvr’ing it do will know more of what happens next week.
    the one thing i didnt liek whas the way they showed the character tryign to be a over muslim.
    like the scene where he lands and starts a praise be allah rant.

  • Muhammad Asif Razzaque

    [Fuad]…so the sitcom has already started controversy and debate 😉

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