Despite its proven ability to bring people of all stripes together, in a melting pot of boiling hatred over its suckiness, Seth MacFarlane’s Dads has already been accused of being too racist to air. But unlike most racist dads—whom you can just ignore while reminding yourself not to complain about any crimes in your neighborhood—Fox’s racist Dads have become the target of the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans, which has taken the aggressive step of asking that the pilot be reshot. As many critics reported at the TCAs, Dads’ very first episode features numerous jokes that play off Asian stereotypes, from Brenda Song being asked to dress as “a sexy Asian schoolgirl” to woo a Chinese businessman, to Martin Mull referring to Asians as “Orientals.” Because he’s old.
In a letter to Fox, MANAA president Guy Aoki wrote, “[Mull] later warned his son that he couldn't trust the Chinese, that 'there’s a reason Shanghai's a verb.' Supposedly all was made right when the Chinese agreed to the deal after the 'creepy interpreter' sent a picture of his penis to Song, who, predictably, said that it was tiny.” (Thanks for the spoilers!) He also specifically called out co-creator Alec Sulkin over a tweet he made in the wake of the the 2011 Japanese tsunami (“If you wanna feel better about this earthquake in Japan, google 'Pearl Harbor death toll’), saying, “Given the level of hostility we felt in the Dads pilot, perhaps it should come as no surprise that Sulkin's involved.” In conclusion, Aoki asked that all of these elements, save Sulkin, be removed from the pilot, ostensibly leaving behind about 30 seconds of Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi sighing exasperatedly over the credits.
When faced with these very same accusations of racism at the TCAs, the show’s principals and Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly were quick to point out that Dads planned to be an equal opportunity offender—why, just look at the jokes about black people and Puerto Ricans that are also in the pilot. Green even compared it to All In The Family, saying Dads offered “some pretty disparaging portrayals of white men,” which would definitely make a nice pull-quote for the promos. He also added, “It’s helpful to have an Archie Bunker, so that Rob Reiner can say, ‘Archie, it’s just not okay.’” And then you also get to have Brenda Song in a sexy Asian schoolgirl outfit, because everything balances out.
Still, like so many of us, Aoki can’t just sit around waiting for Rob Reiner all day. He believes this intervening month before Dads is set to debut means “Fox has an opportunity to fix fatal flaws in the pilot and to improve the show's chances for success when it premieres.” For example, maybe they could change it to be about a couple of guys whose dads move in with them—and by “dads” we mean adorable kitty cats who are always getting stuck in bags and stuff. No watchdogs are gonna protest that! (Except maybe actual watchdogs.)
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