After its TCA press tour Fox's Dads, a live-action sitcom executive produced by Seth MacFarlane, has been the television train wreck to watch this fall, and now an Asian American media watchdog group is demanding its pilot be reshot before it's set to air next on Sept. 17.
As Kimberly Nordyke reports for The Hollywood Reporter, Media Action Network for Asian Americans' founding president Guy Aoki sent a letter to Fox execs including entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly, advising, "Fox has an opportunity to fix fatal flaws in the pilot and to improve the show's chances for success when it premieres next month … We are asking you to reshoot the inappropriate scenes of the pilot. Considering the consistent feedback from our community and television critics in general -- and the creators saying they hadn't properly defined their characters nor gotten used to their actors when they shot that first episode -- this sounds like a no-brainer."
Dads is a show about two thirty-something video game developers (Giovanni Ribisi and Seth Green) and their sixty-something dads (Martin Mull and Peter Riegert) who move in with them. The concept is essentially old guys doing embarrassing things, but essentially everyone associated with the show embarrasses themselves. Aoki points to some of the show's most embarrassing moments. For instance: Mull's character uses the word "Oriental" and says that Chinese people can't be trusted. At the TCAs Green tried to place the show in the tradition of Norman Lear shows All in the Family and The Jeffersons which dealt with frankly dealt with the changing cultural attitudes on matters like race and sex. But none of the characters on Dads seem to have the inner moral life of an Archie Bunker or George Jefferson. And instead of a being a show about generational differences, Green and Ribisi's characters spout as many stereotypes as their fathers do. At one point they ask their employee to dress up as a "sexy Asian schoolgirl" to meet Chinese businessmen. The pilot ends with the main characters gathered around a phone thinking of ways to describe just how small an Asian man's penis looks. Meathead, they ain't. Aoki also mentions co-creator Alec Sulkin's tweet from after the devastating March 2011 tsunami in Japan, in which wrote, "If you wanna feel better about this earthquake in Japan, google 'Pearl Harbor death toll.'"
The question now is how different the show will look by the time it gets to the air. Deadline's Lisa de Moraes reported on Thursday evening, "Fox says it has been in the process of responding." At the TCAs, according to Variety's AJ Marechal, Fox's Reilly admitted that Dads' offensive content needs work and said the press should "take it to task" if series hadn't grown by January. The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman writes, "Reilly agreed that not everything worked in the pilot and that the tone was off — but we don't know yet if Fox is going to talk to [executive producer Seth] MacFarlane about tinkering with the pilot."
It would be good of Fox to change the pilot, but what they likely won't fix is the fact that the show—in all respects—just isn't funny. (Update: Sources tell Entertainment Weekly that the pilot probably won't be reshot.)