Seth MacFarlane isn’t known for his politically correct material, but his latest TV venture, the FOX sitcom “Dads,” was under fire this week for including an allegedly racist portrayal of an Asian character.
In an extended commercial for the “Dads” pilot, actress Brenda Songs' outfit in one scene -- in which she is dressed as a “sexy Asian schoolgirl” -- and some other scenes resulted in a written complaint against Fox from the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) on Monday. According to a report from Deadline.com, the organization asked FOX to reshoot the series’ pilot to remove the scenes that offended them.
FOX denied the request in a statement on Tuesday. It said Song’s portrayal in the three-minute trailer doesn’t accurately portray the 25-year-old’s character in the sitcom. “You will see that Brenda Song’s character is a strong, intelligent, empowered young woman” the network said. The the series is about the relationship that two video game developers, portrayed by actors Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi, have with their fathers.
FOX said the series was created to include “evocative” material. “[It] will poke fun at stereotypes and bigotries -- sometimes through over-the-top, ridiculous situations… Everyone involved with ‘Dads’ is striving to create a series with humor that works on multiple levels and ‘earns’ its audaciousness.”
Deadline.com reported that the pilot, first viewed by MANAA in July, originally received backlash due to one of the show's male characters references to Asians as “Orientals” and to Chinese people when saying, “There’s a reason ‘Shanghai’ is a verb.” The pilot in question includes another controversial dialog line when Song's character says, “You’re lucky your dads are American. My dad beat me with a math book until I was 16.”
Despite her character being a source of controversy, Song seemed unaffected by the claims of racism against the show on Tuesday, when she wrote about how excited she was to shoot an upcoming episode of “Dads” on Twitter. “First audience taping of @DADSonFox tonight! So excited!!” she wrote.
“Dads” premieres Tuesday, Sept. 17, on FOX.