It’s a given fact, the human race strives to be progressive; in all fields and in all matters. In the movement towards building the human race, it’s inevitable that we have conglomerated to celebrate diversity and all its beautiful facets. Because with our intentions to progress, we have acknowledged the diversity of each person and their culture, beliefs and values. We break barriers of taboo topics and delve in important issues to completely dissolve false stereotyping.
This phenomena is no stranger even in the entertainment business, where Asians used to be stereotyped as “nerdy” and most sitcoms were completely whitewashed, barely including people of color in television shows and movies long ago. Today, the model family unit or even main characters of numerous television series are certainly a far cry from what it used to be when television sets would project a black and white picture screen. We have television shows successfully breaking borders and stereotyping by the inclusion of and deeper sense of story towards their characters. Shows such as Modern Family have pictured the life of a gay couple as portrayed by characters Cameron and Mitchell who to top it off adopted a Chinese girl named Lily. They even include Gloria as the second wife of Jay despite the huge age difference, to show love knows no gender or age.
But in our development to promote diversity and dissolve false stereotyping completely, NBC’s new sitcom, Mail Order Family, is a project that just pushed our progress decades back. Mail Order Family is a story based on the life of Superstore writer-producer, Jackie Clarke. Jackie experienced her father ordering a mail order bride from the Philippines, who eventually becomes Jackie’s stepmother. Jackie’s father and her Filipino stepmother were unhappily wed for a few years until they eventually divorced. But the image the Filipina mother projects is one of unloving nature, pushing Jackie away when she attempted to build a relationship with her. After her dad’s divorce with her Filipina stepmother, Jackie’s father eventually leaves Jackie and her siblings because they find out he had a secret family in the Philippines, who he later chooses to be with over them.
But here’s the deal, the television show isn’t a laughing matter. It completely highlights three important and grave issues that shouldn’t be turned into a comedic matter; Human trafficking, racism and feminism. For one, the Filipina mother is depicted as a negative and ill-mannered character who has no intention of developing a relationship with her American family. It negatively highlights her as a foreigner who does not have the willingness to adjust to her family life in America. To top it off, it is a very negatively bold move to highlight human trafficking, which is in no way funny. Mail order brides are unfortunately rampant, but we don’t need another television show creating the illusion that it’s alright to be involved in such an industry. At the end of the day, these women are bought (just as how you would treat material objects) and ordered. Instead of striving to put red light on advertising women as objects to be purchased, the show delves in the dirty world of paying a woman for her life. And to throw the big bang in the mix, it completely disregards feminism in the picture. Projecting the image of women as objects for purchase, without the value for their life, beliefs and opinions. It sheds light on the fact that these woman are attained at a price, perpetually pinning ownership and authority over the Filipina character.
There is a threefold false stereotyping that occurs throughout the path of the story and unfortunately, this is another television show that lends no form of sensitivity to these issues that we as a whole have tried to diminish and ultimately remove. Instead of using the pricey airtime to ingest pure comedy that can be just as, if not more effective without offending races, genders and human value, it completely takes a 360 degree turn. No, it is not a show that has decided to include an Asian race in order to promote diversity, it takes a woman of another race, puts her in the spotlight and made HER the laughing-stock. When it boils down to it, we ask, in today’s entertainment industry of multi-million dollar shows that promote valuable plots and award-winning productions, is it really necessary or acceptable to go back to the old ways of media where instead of celebrating the human race, we completely implode them? The answer is simple, it is no. No, we don’t need another show that shows racism, we don’t need another show that accepts the human trafficking practice, we don’t need another show that goes against feminism. To top it all off, we don’t need another show that takes all these issues and makes it seem like its all just “a laughing matter”.