As Seen on TV
*Note that this series is based on out-of-context anecdotes and general assumptions Kwasa has made about Durvasula’s life and childhood. The main character is heavily inspired by Durvasula but is in no way an accurate portrayal of who she was at that age. (Ed note: Ehhh it’s not far off)
As Seen on TV is the story of America, television, immigration, and puberty. It stars a 14-year-old Indian-American girl recently transplanted to suburban Atlanta from New Delhi and London. The main character’s (let’s just go ahead and call her Shreya) excitement for the move is unbounded because she believes she knows everything about America, based on years of watching various 90s TV shows in London. She’s in for a rude awakening when life in the mid-2000s South doesn’t match up with the portrayal of the U.S. on Friends or 7th Heaven.
Each week the show dispels a TV trope that the main character thought was a core tenet of American life, from funny misunderstandings like the time she put hot sauce on French toast (Ed. note: I didn’t realize French toast is supposed to sweet. Let’s talk about your sugar addiction, America) to more serious issues such as combating racial prejudice and stereotypes. As Shreya starts her freshman year in high school, she learns just as much about life outside of the classroom as she does navigating the treacherous minefield that is an American high school. Providing a voice-over and giving the series context is Shreya as a successful 30-something TV critic. (Ed. note: GURL I WISH)
Most sitcoms peak around season 3 and stagnate after season 5. (Ed. note: There are exceptions of course….) To avoid this, As Seen on TV should only last four seasons, with graduation as the finale. If the show becomes popular and the network demands more seasons, a spin-off college series could be created, but we would have nothing to do with it. (See: Saved By the Bell: College Years, Scrubs “Season 9” and the second half of the West Wing [not necessarily bad, just without Aaron Sorkin]).
The show would be a half-hour single-camera sitcom with no laugh track. Episodes would start with adult Shreya getting into a situation that prompts a flashback to her wacky misadventures as a youth. The pilot could start off with the main character as a guest on a panel at the Austin Television Festival. When asked to describe her most difficult writing assignment, the show flashes back 15 years prior. Issues are generally resolved efficiently and summarily, and the episode wraps up back in present time.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Mother and Father: Not your stereotypical Indian parents, they have no accent, they’re progressive to a certain extent, and they’re not overbearing. But social mores run deep, and they struggle with how their liberal values clash with more traditional expectations for their children.
Older Brother: Has a much easier time adjusting to life in America due to being athletically gifted. A comedic foil showing how differently and unfairly men and women are treated (in both Indian and American cultures).
The Other Indian-American Girl: From a different region of India, OIAG is the only other Asian student at the school and therefore has a bond with the main character. The only problem is that they hate each other. She is Shreya’s nemesis throughout seasons 1 and 2 due to their love-hate relationship. Season 3 marks a turning point, and by the end of the show the two grow to respect each other because they are veterans of the same war...and still the only two Indian girls.
Annoying Liberal Teacher: Tries a little too hard to make the main character feel at home, and in this pursuit of political correctness actually does some kinda racist stuff. A well-intentioned ally who still has some things to learn.
Best Friend: Fellow pop culture nerd and future AV Club or Buzzfeed writer. Fiercely loyal, but being white she doesn’t always quite understand.
Crush: The class clown who is obsessed with stand up comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, and Chris Rock. Not conventionally attractive, which fuels his self-deprecating shtick.
In each episode, Shreya has a coming-of-age moment, achieved through the debunking of TV tropes she held true. As with any good sitcom, these topics vary each week from goofy, absurdist situations to weighty topics all teenagers deal with. Topics include: First kiss/first love, parent generational gap, hetero-normative expectations , the great tampon vs. pad debate, sex/virginity, bullying, Indian stereotypes, terrorism, New York City, dances/clubs, drugs, weddings, school cliques, and code-switching.
- Having just arrived in America, Shreya must navigate her first day of high school, which, to her disappointment, is nothing like Saved By the Bell. She does this while also trying to quell rumors that she is the actress from Bend it Like Beckham.
- The family takes a trip to visit relatives in New York. Shreya can’t wait to see the glorious city depicted in Sex and the City and Friends... only to end up on Staten Island with her cousin, who is posing as a guido to fit in.
- When the police fail to treat a break-in at their home seriously, Shreya decides to imitate her favorite detectives and investigate (think: all British shows where middle-aged men and spinster women investigate murders in sleepy fishing towns). She dons a sweater vest and an atrocious British accent and is rightfully mocked by her peers.
- Inspired by Punk’d, Shreya pulls a prahnk on her friend that backfires when it happens in front of the whole school. A series of revenge pranks needs to be stopped before someone gets hurt, suspended, or expelled.
- Frustrated that she and her mom don’t share a bond like Rory and Lorelai, Shreya plans a “girls day” with her mother to learn more about her. She immediately regrets the decision when her mother hilariously starts revealing too much about her past. (Ed. Note: This also may or may not be based on a real-life incident.)
You would watch this show. It would be funny, smart, meta, and utterly charming. Expect to see it on your screens, or more likely, in your dreams.