Sitcoms are one of the largest family staples in American pop culture. At its best, families would be able to see a reflection of their own families and struggles while living their day to day lives in America. Though today, a “typical American family” is not so typical anymore. This is where Yumna Khan and Nida Chowdhry, first-generation Indian and Pakistani-Americans saw an opportunity to create their own show representing the “typical” American Muslim family.
Diversity and Representation on TV is Lacking
Khan and Chowdhry recognized that if they waited until they and their families were represented on TV they would be left with a blank screen. A 2015 study on contemporary sitcoms sighted that almost 70% featured a white-majority cast. Approximately 20% were led by black characters and the remaining 10% were characters of other races, if they were represented at all. The representation of Muslims in post 9/11 film, in particular, has been difficult: from stereotypical to overly sympathetic and lacking in authenticity. Khan and Chowdhry are hoping that their work will be able to represent the true human side of life as Muslim Americans, both the good and the bad.
‘Unfair & Ugly’ co-creators Yumna Khan (left) and Nida Chowdhry (right)
“I want to tell stories because I always felt like the other,” said Yumna Khan, a communication studies graduate from University of California San Diego. She soon met her future business partner Nida Chowdhry, a UC Irvine film studies graduate and independent producer. It was over a cup of tea that they realized that they shared the same views on the same problems.
‘Unfair & Ugly’ is Coming to Life
‘Unfair & Ugly’ is an original dramedy series about a South Asian Muslim family living in Orange County, California, “trying to keep it together”. Goody-two-shoes Sana and her slacker brother Haaris struggle to balance their immigrant parents’ expectations while navigating millennial adulting. The title Unfair & Ugly is a play on the skin whitening cream Fair & Lovely. “We wanted to create a show that feels real to us, one that we can relate to when it comes to love, careers, and generation gaps and we want to layer it up with topics that are a little taboo in our community,” Kahn said.
Khan and Chowdhry have already written the shows first season, but producing a show needs considerable resources. As the production company Stranger Magic, the duo scheduled filming the first season in Summer 2017 by raising a budget through Indiegogo. Currently, an official series trailer has been launched on their YouTube channel, as some teaser minisodes, to make people talk and support the show. Because it is more than clear: Yumna Khan and Nida Chowdhry are determined to bring ‘Unfair & Ugly’ to life in 2018!