Fox Rejects Request to Reshoot 'Racist' 'Dads' Scenes

Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly and COO Joe Earley ask the Asian-American advocacy organization to give the show time to develop, leading the group to ask to see future episodes.
A scene from "Dads"

Fox has not agreed to a request from the Media Action Network for Asian Americans to reshoot "racist" scenes from the pilot episode of its upcoming series Dads.

The Asian-American watchdog group had asked the network to replace parts of the premiere episode that depicted "racial and sexual stereotypes," including actress Brenda Song dressing up as a "sexy Asian schoolgirl" and Martin Mull's character calling Asians "Orientals."

In a letter, Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly and COO Joe Earley did not mention plans to reshoot these scenes, instead pleading with the organization to give the show time to develop.

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"You will see that Brenda Song’s character is a strong, intelligent, empowered young woman who basically runs the company, and who almost always gets the upper hand on the guys," Reilly and Earley wrote.

"This is a show that will be evocative and will poke fun at stereotypes and bigotries -- sometimes through over-the-top, ridiculous situations," the executives added. "The series is based heavily on the executive producers’ own lives, and the relationships between the fathers and sons on Dads will continue to be the main driver of show’s comedic sensibility. Everyone involved with Dads is striving to create a series with humor that works on multiple levels and 'earns' its audaciousness. That said, we do recognize comedy is subjective, and we may not be able to please everyone, all the time."

Furthermore, they said some of the points MANAA noted will be addressed as the series progresses.

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In light of that, the organization asked to see upcoming episodes "to get a sense of how Brenda Song’s character will develop as well as the extent of the racial humor against Asian Americans," MANAA president Guy Aoki wrote in a letter.

The organization also pointed out that CBS had said Han Lee's character in 2 Broke Girls would be seen as smart and respected, a change it believes has not occurred.

Dads has been under fire for its controversial nature, with The Hollywood Reporter's chief TV critic Tim Goodman saying the show "has heavily racist overtones for Asians." During an often-contentious recent TCA panel, writer Wellesley Wild and executive producer Mike Scully indicated that the show might change some elements in future episodes. Reilly also said at TCA that he hoped the series would eventually be an equal-opportunity offender, like Dads co-creator Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy.

"We're trying to learn the things that do and and the things that don't change in upcoming shows," Scully said at TCA. "We don't want this to be the racial-insult comedy show. It's a comedy about fathers and sons, and you want to strike that relatable thing."