The CBS Television Network continues its streak of racism during its primetime programming, this time targeting Armenians with a stereotype that paints the entire community as thieves.
BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
In Monday’s episode of CBS’s moderate-hit “2 Broke Girls,” when a new cappuccino maker is brought into the cupcake store by a co-worker, he says he bought it for a cheap price from a person who stole it but sells it at a profit, adding “it’s the Armenian way.” When the character is pressed that he is not Armenian, he says “I know. But, it’s the Armenian way.”
Incidentally, this not a first for the show or the network!
In 2011, The Hollywood Reporter wrote about the racial stereotypes peppered in the scripts of “2 Broke Girls” against a Korean character.
This summer, however, saw the most blatant racism from CBS, when several cast members of its hit reality series “Big Brother” used racist slurs to describe or speak to fellow African-American and Asian cast members. The network, at the time, defended its decision to include those parts, saying it might promote a national discussion on race.
Ironically, it was on the very same network, where Julie Chen host of “Big Brother” and a co-host on “The Talk,” and wife of CBS President Les Moonves, revealed to viewers that in an earlier job as a television reporter, workplace racism forced her to get plastic surgery to enlarge her “Asian eyes.”
Past characterization of Armenians in television shows from FX’s “The Shield,” Showtime’s “Weeds” and others have sparked a debate about how Armenians are characterized on television shows, with some opining that the fact that Armenians are even being mentioned in mainstream scripts is a step up.
However, we have yet to see a depiction of an Armenian character in a television show—broadcast or cable—that reflects the history of the Armenian-American community and the great contribution our community has had in the advancement of American society. Instead, our community continues to be portrayed as gang members, thieves and drug dealers for dramatic and comedic effect.
The number of Armenians in the entertainment industry continues to grow in an impressive pace both in front of and behind the camera, yet the depiction of Armenians on TV and films continues to degenerate.
Perhaps, to expect CBS to draw the line at Armenians is a bit too much given their most recent streak of allowing racism on the airwaves for quick ratings, but certainly calling them on it will draw attention to this harmful trend disguised as entertainment.
“2 Broke Girls” is produced by Warner Bros. Television and airs on CBS on Mondays.
Peter Roth is President and Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Television Group, and President, Warner Bros. Television. Nina Tassler is Head of Entertainment at CBS.
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