Racist, anti-asian sentiments in CBS’s The Big Bang Theory

28 Apr

I’ve been hearing about The Big Bang Theory for a while now, and it has been recommended to me a few times by associates within my academic circle–by friends with both Asian and non-Asian backgrounds.

Interesting… I thought to myself. A clever comedy? That could be refreshing. And of course, I was also interested to see how they would play out the character of Raj Koothrappali, as East Indians are rarely favourably portrayed (or even included) in American sitcoms.

I’ll have to admit I was less than impressed with the initial episode I watched. What had been sold to me as a “smart sitcom” seemed more like a series of dull, mildly depressing and unintelligent ramblings of grown-up Superbad characters. But it’s alright for light-entertainment before bed, I convinced myself, slightly out of desperation as there are so few quality shows on the air nowadays.

Still, there was something that didn’t quite sit right with me about the show. I even felt mildly uncomfortable watching it. After a few more episodes, I started to admit to myself that I really disliked the show’s attitude toward Raj, but once again, the critic in me acquiesced to the more naive part of myself, and I told myself that I was just being hypersensitive.

Then the racist element really started to get under my skin, and I started documenting the evidence for social observance purposes. That and blog fodder.

The first moment that I probably felt that internal burn that we all feel when we know we are being discriminated against is during the first episode, when Penny (the show’s token “hot girl,” who actually is pretty adorable) addresses Raj, and he doesn’t answer her. Her immediate response is, “I’m sorry, do you speak English?”

This problematic assumption is worsened by the fact that it is sidekick Howard who steps in and speaks for him, explaining that he cannot answer her because he is “a nerd.” Great, I said to myself, so the one time an East Indian is cast in a lead role in an American sitcom, not only is he part of a group with questionable attitudes towards women, a group so pathetic, so painfully nerdy that even I want to give them all wedgies, but he also has to be silenced.

Raj Koothrappali is robbed of his voice: a key feature of colonialism, sexism, slavery, and oppression in general. Is it the tale of Columbus, or of the scores of  humans he slaughtered, that we are taught of with semi-folklore status in our history classes today? Is it the women or the men who are noted as the prime social reformers and philosophers of their time? When we discuss politics, both national and foreign, ancient and modern, who has their say? Certainly not those whom it would be most relevant to hear from. And let’s face it, in American history, it’s the Anglo-saxon version that dominates despite the myth of the melting pot. This is what subjugation is all about.

Is Raj’s inability to speak a comedic aspect of his character, or a symptom of something more insidious in The Big Bang Theory? Why couldn’t it be the socially inept Sheldon, the uncouth and sexually repulsive Wallowitz, or even lame Leonard who is rendered with this ignominy?

Relax! You say to me. You are over-analyzing it! It’s just a show. And anyways, Wallowitz is Jewish. He is also a member of a minority group that has faced extreme discrimination in American society. So what if he spoke for Raj in this instance? He does not have the agency to be racist.

Okay, let’s agree to disagree and say that Raj’s fleeting loss-of-voice isn’t racist. But it isn’t only Wallowitz who speaks for–and even defines–who Raj is. In The Precious Fragmentation, (S3 E17), it is the leading-nerd Sheldon Cooper, a Texan of Anglo-saxon ancestry, who distinguishes Raj as “the foreigner who tries to understand our culture and fails.”

This instance draws parallels to the Hegelian master/slave dialectic, wherein the slave, through systemic oppression, is (at least initially) only able to see himself through the eyes of his oppressor. His oppressor ends up being the one who provides him with his identity.  Moreover, why is Raj’s character forever seen as an outsider incapable of assimilation? He is a smart, functional (aside from his encounters with women) member of society who speaks fluent English and almost seems to abhor anything remotely “Indian.” Yet he is not “one of them.” He is not an American, and in the eyes of Sheldon, who emblematizes not only the dorky Anglo-saxon, but also small-town, white American nerd-dom, he never will be.

The show doesn’t stop there with Sheldon’s sense of entitlement to speak as the wiser, more advanced counterpart to his foreign comrade. In The Gorilla Experiment (S3, E10), after Penny cutely throws and catches food in her mouth, Sheldon makes a condescending remark about how he dislikes when she acts “willy nilly” towards food without concern for its equitable distribution. He then addresses Raj with an uncalled-for and inaccurate attack, stating “Raj, this is essentially why you have famine in India.” This is an instance of the classic “ruler-knows-best” colonial symptom.

It doesn’t take a self-proclaimed genius like Cooper to know that India, a major exporter of the world’s food, hasn’t had a famine since after the British left. Under British rule, millions Indians died of starvation during at least 25 well-documented famines, while the colonists gained inspiration for their later behaviour in Ireland by inducing Indian famines through looting the country’s food and goods and taxing people for everything (see: The Bengal Famine, which killed 1/3 of the population, or 15 million people). Interesting how colonial thought enjoys distorting these basic facts.

In The Jiminy Conjecture (S3 E2), Sheldon even reminds Raj of his ancestral colonial connection during a disagreement where Raj remarks he would be “kicking [Sheldon’s] butt” if this argument was in his Native tongue.

“English is your Native language!” Sheldon quickly and thoughtlessly repudiates, met by the laughter of the audience.

So Sheldon can state that Raj’s Native tongue is English, however Raj is still far from an American, “failing” to comprehend its cultural norms. This attitude is typical of the British Raj, who forever tried to Anglocize India, while never agreeing that India was “Anglo” enough. For example, Sir Babington Macaulay, a hailed reformer of the Indian education system (whose role in the outlawing of all homosexual activity is conveniently ignored) and a fierce proponent of English-medium schools despite his inefficiency in the English language, had this to say about India: “I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit [sic] or Arabic, but […] a single shelf of a good European library are [sic] worth the whole literature of India and Arabia.”* Even after Macaulay had done his damage and outlawed homosexuality, Vicery Elgin still referred to homosexual amour as “special Oriental vices.”** Macaulay’s “reforms” reveal an example of the British colonial view that although India was English-speaking, it’s still not English. Their so-called “backwardness” was basically an inherent “Oriental vice.” Similarly, Raj may speak English, but Sheldon will never see him as on-par with his fellow Americans.

It’s not racist, it’s funny! you protest. Raj knows he is “the foreigner” and he plays upon it, calling his friends out on their racism and coming back with witty remarks whenever he’s faced with it! This show is far from depicting Raj’s role as that of the inferior immigrant.

Not always. Again in The Jiminy Conjecture, when the nerds meet with a cricket expert (who has just been fired) to settle their asinine dispute, he lashes out at them with comical irrationality–at least, until he gets to Raj, where his anger takes on a racist turn.

“What’s your deal?” he says to Raj, as he gives him the cat-eye. “Are they out-sourcing my job to Bangalore?” Again, this question is met with audience laughter. Raj’s retort is simply, “I’m from New Delhi.” Although this response does elicit the sense of incomprehension that educated people when confronted with extreme ignorance, I was disappointed that none of Raj’s friends stood up for him, and I was left with that same uncomfortable feeling in my stomach.

Further, I would argue that Raj’s homeland is seen as subordinate to The Land of Opportunity. In The Pirate Solution (S3 E17) when Raj faces deportation, he whines incessantly about how he doesn’t want to go back. After all, India is “hot, it’s loud, and there are so many people! You have no idea–they’re everywhere!” He rebukes the McDonald’s in Mumbai for not selling beef, degrading his culture while glorifying this ethically questionable MNC by going on and on about the wonders of animal flesh. As an animal rights activist, frankly, I was horrified to watch this episode.

Yes, this is just Raj’s opinion of India I’m discussing here, but none of the other characters even attempt to cheer him up. Rather, Sheldon suggests becoming a pirate as a suitable alternative to living in India, contending that it’s what he would do in Raj’s position. To the Big Bang nerds, India is a strange, uninteresting, faraway land they wouldn’t visit even for one of their closest friends. Howard remarks that India is a very far plane-ride away, and that instead they should “Skype.”

(I could probably find even more instances of racism in a show that is so chock-full of it, but as you can probably tell, I only watched Season 3, and I feel that that is more than enough for a lifetime.)

So overall, this is The Big Bang Theory‘s stance on India: boring, far, hot, and inferior. A place undeserving of even fact-checking before you throw a few reproachful comments its way. In fact, India is so unworthy that even Howard wouldn’t go there for his best friend, with whom he shares a latent but palpable bi-curiousity.

The end.

_____

* Quote from Macaulay’s Minute on Education can be found here. PS–Why Macaulay took an opportunity to diss Arabia when he was supposed to be commenting on education in India will always be beyond me.

** Suparna Bhaskaran. “The Politics of Penetration: Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code,” in Queering India, ed. Ruth Vanita, p. 17. Routledge, 2002.

***Other great posts about The Big Bang Theory here and here.

****Update May 3, 2016: I love that this blog post continues to get visceral reactions from people years later. I am also amazed at all the hypersensitive people who got offended at my being offended all the while missing the irony in that.

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153 Responses to “Racist, anti-asian sentiments in CBS’s The Big Bang Theory”

  1. Curious Wavefunction May 8, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    Great post. I think BBT has become decidedly racist with respect to Raj’s character. Notice how, in the last entire season or so, he is the person who embarrasses himself and others around him the most. Granted, most of the characters are losers in their own way, but Raj has now taken top spot as the wimpiest guy who says the most embarrassing things in front of others. It’s also interesting that Raj was depicted as much less and Howard as much more embarrassing at the beginning, but now the tables have turned.

  2. anon May 25, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    WOW GET OVER YOURSELF. Raj does indeed have a voice – just not around women.

    It’s a fucking comedy show and they make fun of ALL of the characters. The show is rife with politically incorrect quips and stereotypes, and that’s a large part of what makes HUMOR. I am Asian, and after reading this long-ass rant.. I have to say this. Please stop writing. Nobody wants to listen to you whine and bitch because of your subjective overanalysis.

    • Zondrah May 30, 2011 at 2:16 am #

      Dear anon,

      Thank you for reading the entire “rant.” About your comment about the show employing racist stereotypes in a humorous way, however, I have just one thing to say: I agree with you that humour should not always have to be politically correct, or even intelligent, as that would make the world a dull and un-funny place. But even so, there is a fine line between poking fun at something in a genuinely harmless way and mocking with a rancorous overtone–Season 3 of BBT crossed that line.

      For instance, well before BBT, the former American sitcom “Just Shoot Me” released an episode titled “Miss Pretty,” subtly revealing the ways that American society tends to stereotype Asians and lump Asiatic peoples together interchangeably. The humour had a double-edged sword–were people laughing because they held similar sentiments toward Asian-Americans, or because the characters on the show were being such remarkable assholes? I like this type of humour; it is simple enough for most people to laugh at without employing too much brain power, but that double meaning is there if you look for it. BBT lacks this cleverness.

      • Ted Taylor August 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

        Hi Zondrah,
        Your “Just Shoot Me” reference describes in a much better way the point I was attempting to make in my other post. I think I disagree, though, that “BBT lacks this cleverness.” I really think that’s exactly what the show is attempting to do. Maybe not. Maybe that’s how I rationalize continuing to watch it. I don’t know. I just think they do a good job with the “clever” thing.

    • Vaneshree May 28, 2012 at 8:05 am #

      Please take a look at this! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqpusW5oceM&feature=related And it is not even the SHOW but the presenting themselves to the public. I HATE how they introduce Kunal Nayyar. They had the chance to be respectful and LEARN how to say a very simple non-white name. But “Howard’s mother” was blatantly disgusting and all the puppets on the show as always, found nothing wrong in it, next time I meet a white person that is exactly the kind of courtesy they will get from me.

    • Sid December 20, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

      You’re not Asian you’re white and you’re pathetic enough to lie about it because you think proves your “point”.
      I actually the show but it’s completely one sided in it’s racism so shut the fuck up you cunt.

    • Imran January 16, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      Oh really, how abt that episode when after Penny supposedly sleeps with Raj and confides to her friend Amy abt it,then Amy consoles her by telling her that if the queen of russia who performed inter-species hanky panky(sex) with a horse , was loved by all, her reputation could withstand her shagging a little indian boy. So shagging an indian boy is the same as bestiality?Ironical how this line was met by a roar of laughter in the background,when I could only imagine the show being shut down if it was ” shagging a black boy”.I guess selective racism is alive in American media. And i’m surprised how sportingly some asians/indian men take this emasculation/ridicule of themselves.Would U ever find Black/latino/Arab or white men laughing at their own degradation. No. That is why these Asian/indian men are at the bottom of the dating pool, because no girl wants a sissy, who cant stand up for himself.

    • Victor April 5, 2013 at 1:07 am #

      You ignorant, bastard, where is your self-respect? Comedy or humor is no excuse for racist and prejudice depictions of any race. What kind of person are you, if I kicked your ass would you just laugh? You probably would because it would quiet humorous, especially if I kicked you mother’s ass as well and called her some racist name. I want to listen to this person for he/she speaks the truth and has the self respect and knowledge to fight against injustice that racism and prejudice causes in the western world. It is not just a fucking comedy you ignorant piece of shit.

    • Rohit June 19, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

      You are not Asian. Even if you are, do not lick the white derrière that hard. Asians are overwhelmingly rich and high achiever. They have a right to analyse, and they do analyse.

    • HBDoubleD714 September 18, 2014 at 7:35 am #

      I just saw this comment after I wrote mine and in a similar way, said the same thing. ..awesome!!

    • Kimani wa Mumbi June 4, 2016 at 11:02 am #

      Decades behind but yes, it’s just a comedy show that makes fun of all races. I’m back and I enjoy the stereotypes on the blacks.

    • Scott Sanders September 8, 2016 at 9:13 pm #

      I also find it hard to speak in front of women. Indian people account for a large portion of the population it’s not a reasonable leap in logic to assume that one of them has a very hard time speaking to women. This is just social justice Warriors being offended for other people. They make no reference to how the show perpetuates negative stereotypes of nerds. You are what’s wrong with society and you are racist. Whites are only the oppressors and never the victims LOL you make me sick

      • Zondrah November 20, 2016 at 3:41 pm #

        Cry me a river, Scott.

  3. H L June 5, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    It gets worse for sub characters. Denis Kim, the Chinese restaurant owner, the Korean driver and Korean people at the dance hall. And Howard’s mother. The show is full of all kinds of racism.

    • Here2destroySatan. February 14, 2016 at 3:11 am #

      Seriously, it’s sickening. Why pretend to be intellectual if your going to be a complete ignoramus?! Yes sounding like our racist American ancestors is so much more intelligent.

  4. SF July 23, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    Raj’s sister is portrayed as classy, intelligent, gorgeous and the ‘catch’ among all the ladies in the show. There go your complaints about anti-Indian prejudice and racism. I’m of Indian origin and I’m a fan of the show. You really need to lighten up.

    • Zufash April 16, 2012 at 1:08 am #

      Wow – seriously? And she, of course, appears at least as much as Raj does.
      Not a good point at all, since Raj’s role is more prominent than his sister’s, and we barely see her in a few episodes, if that many at all.

    • emberryx April 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      She may be portrayed as beautiful and classy but she is also portrayed as oppressed by her own culture. There is an episode where Raj’s sister tries to hide her relationship with Leonard from her parents as she believed they will disapprove. This just reinforces the stereotype that although Indian women can attain their high degrees and successful careers in a western world, they are ultimately suppressed by ‘strict Indian culture’ and authoritarian parents. I don’t care what people say but that is portraying another culture in a negative way and its on a repeated basis. This show is jam-packed with little digs at minorities. It’s not about having a sense of humour or not or taking yourself too seriously. Most jokes have a sinister side to it and people need to acknowledge that.

    • Sri October 3, 2012 at 6:59 am #

      lol, this is precisely Asians are not racialized, there are too many ass lickers of the white masters to protect them and cover their blatant propaganda…maybe justification of colonialism, aryan-invasion theory, the stupid stereotypes must also be a light hearted joke isn’t it??

    • Imran January 16, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      Sorry dude, but you dont know much about the American media and the white man’s interest. Asian and indian women are considered exotic beauties by most white guys, many prefer them to white women,(70% of interracial is bw a white man and an asian woman and 50%of American born Indian women marry white men)hence when Priya enters the show she’s considered the most attractive, she is shown to dwarf Penny( the hot blonde eye candy of the show)in every way, something which white men do quite often to tease white women by dating asian women.Raj being depicted as a ball-less pseudo homo is nothing new but an age old attempt by the white american media to portray Asian and Indian men as being unfit to date any women including their own,and this trick has paid off judging by the stats I’ve given above and the fact that Asian/indian men are least desired by any race of women in the Usa.This trick also keeps white women from going after them since thats the only way to stop a race of men who are nicer, more loyal, make twice as more money, from stealing our women.The bbt is a fantastic example of the White man’s interest, notice how there aren’t any black women in the show(coz Wm dont like em), notice how they dont have any black men( coz of the WW fetish which WM dont approve off), notice how in many episodes, a new attractive girl(including Priya) will fall and drool for Leonard, the white guy, (the other whites like sheldon are just diversion props.The Leonard character could’ve been any1 a black guy, a jewish guy etc but its not, it is the White american Christian guy that is portrayed as the most desirable and normal in the group.In short, this is the perfect sitcom for the white American majority. Any other racial/ethnic group can only enjoy the fruits of self-degradation.

    • rahul February 7, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

      Well ‘SF’ you may be of indian origin but dont think you are a patriot coz nobody can tolerate some indian talking about his own country in such disrespectful manner, like some of the lines from raj’s mother ” I’m soo rich in this very poor country ” and from raj himself to FBI agent ” please dont send me back to india …. bla ..bla .bla ” there are soo many things in 3 and 4th season its completely racism i mean it… how many people agree with me . . .

    • Kenny November 20, 2014 at 10:57 am #

      …and I bet you she dismisses Indians and dates only Whites. Are you proud?

    • Sayantan Datta March 23, 2017 at 7:05 am #

      The show perpetuates the stereotype that Indian males are undesirable and weird – Indian women are desirable and chase white men. So, in fact it’s actually doubly racist.

  5. Shivakumar September 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    Its that idiots fault. Just like the blacks who take a paycheck from Hollywood to act as criminals and further reinforce stereotypes. The racist American media is able to pull it off because they have the melanated morons (i am brown myself) who are willing to do it.

  6. aguero September 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    The season 5 episodes 1and 2 were horribly racist and compared to them the examples u quoted above seem lame

  7. Anonymous October 7, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    It’s a freaking comedy for God’s sake!! I’m glad I don’t look for racism in every little thing or else I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself. I’m Asian, btw, and I don’t find Raj’s character to be offensive at all. It’s just a comedy where they make fun of stereotypes. Raj is considered to be foreign because he IS foreign. He’s not an American citizen!

    • Kenny November 20, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      It’s not about racism, please understand. I do not look at it this way at all, but at the end of the day ‘you’ are being looked at differently in REALITY and everyday life when – walking down the street, at a cash register, being served in eating establishments.

      The people that denies this are the people that harbors it. In truth, you feel the pain every night but tries to hide them deeply in order to get ‘accepted’ and/or try to assimilate. I’m not Indian but I’ve seen the ones that refuses to acknowledge themselves being treated like crap in areas they do not fit in. In other words, they denied racism towards them and defends racists of “just having a bad day that’s all, we understand”. Uh…no you don’t.

    • Zondrah May 3, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

      What exactly compels people like you to comment so unconstructively?For those who, like Anonymous, feel that I should just “not watch” if I don’t like it, you also have the option to “not read.” Why bother to read an article you know will aggravate you, comment on the blog, and tell me to lighten up?

      Yes, there is someone who needs to lighten up in this scenario, and it’s you. If you’re offended at my being offended (oh the irony), you’re much more hypersensitive than anyone I know, and you’re better off just getting off the internet, where *gasp* not everyone agrees with you.

  8. cha-city son November 7, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    I totally agree, I have found this show to be horribly racist from the very first episode. Right when i saw the cast marched out. All these geniuses, and what do they have in common, none of them are black. The show couldn’t make room for a single black genius? Fulfilling more ignorant stereotypes. They have a Jewish genius, a Indian genius, a homosexual genius, a white genius, but no black genius, hmm. They couldn’t make room for one single black genius? Why do they even need the Leonard character, it is redundant since Sheldon is white, aren’t there already way too many white people on TV as it is! Why not make Leonard black!?

    And how come Penny never has any black boyfriends? Every week they have her dating a different guy, but all of them are lily white boys. Here are some ways this show could be saved. Fire the actor who plays Leonard, and bring in a strong African American leading man actor to play the role. Have him and Raj take on the leadership role in the group, with any peripheral white characters deferring to them. Introduce a new sexy black romantic interest for Penny. And also use the show as a platform to tackle issues of racism in scientific community.

    Also the episode where they introduce Raj’s sister annoyed me, as it probably annoyed you. How come she immediately dates the white guy? Why not have her dating a black guy??? The obvious answer is African Americans aren’t allowed on that show. They could have easily introduced a handsome black character when they introduced her, and had the sexual tension coming between those two new characters. But no.

    I think the problem is Chuck Lorre. He also made Two and a Half Men, which is another very racist show. All white characters, don’t think I have ever seen one single African American on that show. Can you name a single one? I challenge you to find one. To me Chuck Lorre seems like sort of a modern day Nazi, he makes shows that you’d expect to find in 1930’s Germany, all white characters with a few minorities thrown in as comic relief. A lot of these Hollywood types have Nazi connections too, for example Arnold Schwarzeneggers father was an SS Nazi. I’d like to check out Lorre’s past, I’ll bet he has a few Nazi or KKK connections in his family tree, it really wouldn’t surprise me.

    Thanks for this very insightful look at the racism on this show, you bring up so many great points. Just wished you would have also mentioned how it abuses other ethnic minorities, not just Indian. But great job all the same, I will definitely pass this article around to friends and family.

    • Zondrah November 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

      Well, Two and a Half Men did formerly star a Mexican, but I find it is an even worse show that I’ve never been able to stomach — it’s horribly misogynistic, just like its former leading character.

      The websites Womanist Musings and Bitch Magazine wrote some great posts about the intersection of sexism and racism in The Big Bang Theory as well. Penny’s character has never sat right with me either, but I could turn this blog into a book if I went into detail about all the things wrong with BBT.

      • Gemini November 1, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

        Charlie Sheen has rarely acknowledged being Mexican in decades of movie/tv shows, he does not count as a Mexican actor as no one views him as not white. Yes the show was very sexist and run by white male producers.

        The BBT is a horrible racist, sexist show on its 8th season it’s incredible this stuff exists, can you imagine decades from now how the show will illustrate the continuing significance of race and gender in the 21st century. A clear example of what not to do when doing a comedy show.

    • psychowordsmith June 9, 2016 at 11:04 am #

      “I think the problem is Chuck Lorre”

      Nail on the head.

      The show isn’t racist, it’s just overwhelmingly stupid but unable to admit it to itself.

      None of the racial stereotype joke made me uncomfortable because they were racist, I cringed because of how stupid it was.

      Hell, I’d much rather watch an entire show just about Pierce Hawthorne’s views on Indian people. It would probably me the most offensive show ever, but it would be hilarious and smart enough for me to actually enjoy it.

      “A society where anyone can make jokes about anyone else and everyone laughs is a truly tolerant society. Political correctness-charged censorship only serves to engender resentment and distance between social groups.”

      – Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw

  9. Nirmal November 8, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    I was ready to ignore most of these racist stuff cos they were making fun of everyone, but they ve been getting personal lately,some of the general assumptions in this series are most indians are living in poverty,doesnt have proper bowel movement,our bodies are filled with parasites(se 7 ep1), child labour is common, hindus are dumb cow pee drinkers who are all polytheists and the list goes on. this will only add to the set of delusions that slumdog millionaire created.

    • Shanta Venkataraman August 16, 2012 at 6:38 am #

      When did it say that, us hindus are dumb cow pee drinker? I will kill who put that in the show!

      • Blaise Pereira September 27, 2013 at 6:43 am #

        actually that has has been taken form the vedasor something where raj’s sister pirya says if you eat a cow you have live with cows for 3 months and drink thier urine.i as far as i know that is the truth.well you try to kill me i will snap your neck in an instant

  10. literati99@hotmail.com November 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    TBBT is funny but it’s also very racist. These posters here who say the ARE Asian (are they really?) that don’t see what the problem is, really have a problem. Time and again all the other characters, Raj included, get picked on bc of their perceived nerdiness but Raj is the one who suffers the most and a great deal of his jokes mock his Indian nationality. The fact that the other characters don’t have lines to defend him and even join in shows that the Asian character is promoted as inferior to audiences. It is definitely racist. And 3 of the execs on the show are Jewish. For a peoples that are outraged by their own history of persecution they are not showing themselves to be any better at all. Disgraceful. TBBT 8 for nerd humour -10 for racial tolerance

    • cha-city son November 18, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

      Well, I am not Asian, never said I was Asian, and completely agree the show is racist. I’m black, not Indian, but even I can see the show is racist against Raj. But at least the Raj character exists, meanwhile black people, who represent 20% of the population, weren’t allowed a single role on the show. Black people aren’t geniuses? Please! The smartest scientist in the world right now, maybe of all time, is Neil deGrasse Tyson, a BLACK man. Best philosopher of all time? You guessed it, a BLACK man by the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (with Malcolm X a close runner up). Best poet of all time? hands down it is Maya Angelou, yup, a BLACK woman. Black people even invented computers technically, if you read history you see that the science needed for computers is algebra, which was invented by the Moors, who are BLACK. Also civilization itself was invented by BLACK people in Egypt. So the fact this show refuses to show even one black genius is just plain ignorant, there are probably more black geniuses out there than there are from any other race, and I’m not even kidding.

      That isn’t even what bothers me the most though. That show is made by white bread whites for white bread whites to watch, so if they wanna pretend white people are smart, whatever. What annoys me is the propaganda side of it all. Young white girls will watch this show, see that hot blonde girl Penny, will obviously look up to her, and will see that she never dates black guys. I mean, every episode Penny has a new boyfriend, and every single time they are always white bread cracker and toast type guys. Not once have I EVER seen her dating a handsome black guy, hmmmm. No black people where they live? I think NOT. 20% remember! So they pump out this propaganda to young white girls telling them that they shouldn’t date black men, and teenage girls being easily persuaded by what they see on television will believe it! So if I really connect with some hot blonde girl, wanna get with her, and ask her out, what’s she gonna do, well if she watches that racist show, probably say no to me. It’s just such bullshit.

      And why is Raj always subservient to Sheldon? none of the other character defer to anyone, but Raj defers to all the white characters. Haven’t we had enough of that with whites colonizing and suppressing India for centuries? If they show really cared about minorities, it would have Raj being in the position of authority, and preferably an even higher up authority figure genius who is black, since we have had it the hardest of anyone these past thousand years or so (slavery, apartheid). And for God’s sake, give Penny a black romantic interest, we have waited long enough!

      I think we have raised a lot of good points here, so I am taking the liberty of forwarding this article to CBS. Hopefully if there is anyone working there who is not completely KKK, we will start to see some changes on BBT. If not, well, we know where minority rights stand with them then.

      • Simon Jensen December 25, 2012 at 5:42 am #

        I know this is a very old post but I just had to say this: You are such a racist! This and another one of your comments reek of racism. You are one of those people who belongs to a minority and sees discrimination EVERYWHERE!

        Just in this post it’s obvious that you are extremely biased towards people of African descent. You say that Neil deGrasse Tyson perhaps is the smartest man ever!? I’m a huge fan of his but this is a really stupid statement! He would laugh to your face if you said to him that he was the smartest man ever. I think he would argue that he would not even compare to geniuses such as Da Vinci, Newton and Einstein.

        Then you go on to claim that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the greatest philosopher of all time which I don’t think is stupid at all but you forget that Dr. King’s philosophy was directly derived from Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence. He mentioned this many times. Furthermore, I believe that you deliberately excluded many other people, especially because you seem to think that the greatest people EVER were all black who lived in the 20th century… Ever heard of Aristotle? Voltaire? Jean-Jacques Rousseau? Nietzsche? Kierkegaard? Any of these would be more qualified to be entitled “Greatest Philosopher” than Dr. King. This of course doesn’t make his efforts any less significant.
        And then the fact that you mention Malcolm X as a close second, is just so idiotic! He was a bigot and a racist and favored a universal vilification of Caucasian people over peace and tolerance…

        And another bold claim is that Maya Angelou is the best poet of all time. I’m not that familiar with her work but I simply can’t believe she was more influential than poets such as Shakespeare, Dante, Poe or Pablo Neruda.

        And then saying black people technically invented computers made me laugh so hard! I’m certain there were several black people involved in inventing and developing the computer but saying that the people who invented algebra invented the computer is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read on the internet! That is like saying that whoever invented the wheel technically invented monster trucks. And actually it wasn’t black people who invented algebra; it was invented in the Babylonian empire which was located in the Middle East and further developed by the Greeks.

        And then you move on to blatant racism when you say that there are probably more black geniuses than geniuses from any other ethnic groups. This can in no way be verified but I can say with some certainty that this is a wrong statement. Statistically it is extremely unlikely since black people make up 15 % of the world population and the chance that these would have more geniuses than all other ethnic groups combined is very very small. Statistically speaking most geniuses are Asian because they make up 54 % of the worlds population. Also studies have shown that Asians in average has the highest IQ of all ethnic groups.

        The only thing I’m going to say about the show is that I like it but I do think that they poke too much fun at Indian culture sometimes. I love Raj as a character though. It’s actually funny that you mentioned Neil deGrasse Tyson since he has actually appeared on the show.

        Oh. and as a last comment I have to say that African Americans make up around 12,4 % of the American population, not 20 %! It makes you come of as extremely unreliable when you so grossly exaggerates statistics to further your argument.

      • Rohit August 16, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

        Are u seriously not able to understand, why a Black Character has not been included in TBBT !! The very purpose of including a “Non European” character (Jews are European) is to lampoon their character by mocking their culture. As many have pointed out, Raj ridiculed for his Indian-ness, whereas rest are , for their geeky-ness. Denigrating a Black character is lot more controversial than doing to same with Indian character (Unless the Black guy is depicted as a Thug, and garnished with copious amount of Testosterone). And this is indeed a reflection of larger society, where a French/ Spanish guy speaking broken English is considered as romantic/sexy/ charming, whereas Indian/Chinese speaking fluent English is dodgy/ funny / exotic /FOB.

      • footluvingpats April 2, 2016 at 8:57 pm #

        Wow so much ignorance I don’t even know where to start. First NDT is not nearly the smartest scientist alive today and not widely even considered the smartest black scientist. The three smartest known men today are all Asian descent, judging from their names one Korean one Japanese one Chinese. Martin Luther King was hardly considered a philosopher and is certainly not the best philosopher nor the best African American philosopher (cornel west comes to mind). The best poet is nearly impossible to qualify and mya Angelou is considered one of the best certainly but unlike with your qualifications it has not to do with her skin color but rather her talent. inventing algebra is not at all the same thing as inventing the computer anymore so then say seeing would be to inventing the camera. Just because the only people you may have heard of that have dark skin happen to be NDT mlk and Malcolm X doesn’t make them the best at what they do (or in the case of MLK didn’t really do). It’s great to have pride in your culture but don’t do it so blindly. Black people are not the best at everything nor are they the worst. There are enough legitimately qualified black people that you’d be better off to learn the merits of qualified ones and argue their case then spitting out this racist nonsense (and yes just because it’s pro African American doesn’t make it non racist). Lastly why does it need to be a strong African American as a lead? Shouldn’t it be a weak geaky African American to match his counterparts? And why does it need to be the lead why not just an equal! Wouldn’t that be truly the message we should be trying to convey? And as far as penny’s sex lige it shows very few boyfriends first off and second Pasadena does not have a large African American population so it would be statistically unlikely she would date one. Much more likely an Asian or Latin make if she were to date a minority. Wouldn’t that be ok? After all the goal is to show interacial dating is ok right? (Which I do support all of my siblings and I are in interacial relationships spanning from African American east Asian Latin and southeast Asian ) lastly they do show that bernadettes ex boyfriend was a tall handsome man of color who was an accomplished scientist. Lastly I have to agree with the person who said it wouldn’t be the same show with an African American lead. The show is based off mocking the characters own individual cultures and making fun of themselves at their own and their cultures expense (continual Jewish and Indian jokes for Howard and Raj, white trash jokes for Sheldon and nerd insecurity jokes all around) culturally if you added an African American in there and had supporting non African Americans make fun of his african american negative stereotypes people would be outraged. It’s unfortunately not a 2 way street, everyone can laugh at white negative stereotypes and make comments like “white read” but it’s generally unacceptable the other way around. I hope for the day when we can make fun of all races equally and people take it in stride but culture has not reached that point yet. (Kind of like how it’s ok to trash talk nearly any diety like Christ or Buddha except Muhammad ) on a side note there is a great south park episode on that. Ok my rants over

    • Blaise Pereira September 27, 2013 at 6:38 am #

      Nobody cares

  11. Mike November 25, 2011 at 1:57 am #

    The racism you see is merely White America trying to retain power in an increasingly diversifying world. The fact that they are doing this shows that indeed our world is becoming more tolerable. I hate racism, but i can understand why they are racist. It is simply how they were raised. With edcuation and some helping and understanding, eventually the perception of race will become nothing more than a chapter or two in a history book. In the meanwhile if you want a tv show for Americans that are diversified there is always youtube 😛 I mean a lot of people have gained power and influence over youtube. Why not an anti-racist :D.

  12. Jeremy November 30, 2011 at 7:18 am #

    Really, racism? Does anyone remember the episode where Raj’s parents we’re bagging on Penny because she wasn’t Indian? The show put blatant racism in an episode, not even all this hyper-analyzed nonsense, but I guess because it was towards a white person no one is going to mention that? If you’re offended your race isn’t in the show, get over yourself, this show has racial diversity, stop thinking your race MUST be in a show; equality means you can do anything you want with YOUR show. Maybe Tyler Perry should have a stronger multiracial showing in his shows and movies. -facepalm- Have we moved to the point where you’re racist just because you have a show the way you want it and we must destroy equal rights for those who demand it there way? Sounds like we’re getting a little full of ourselves, eh? I’m Hispanic and just enjoy the show and to my knowledge my ethnicity isn’t represented at all. Overthinking much?

    • Sid December 20, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

      Yeah making out all Asian parents are against interracial relationships isn’t racist at all… Moron…

  13. Jeremy November 30, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    Also, have any of you even had friends of another nationality? It comes with the territory of being from another territory, there are jokes, there are nicknames, but most of all it’s all in good fun and is born through a sense of companionship. People need to lighten up, my Indian friend’s wouldn’t even be offended by the jokes. Sheesh.

    • blacksnakemoan28 December 27, 2011 at 5:16 am #

      Implying you actually have an Indian friend, which you don’t.

      • Shanta Venkataraman August 16, 2012 at 6:36 am #

        Um excuse me? I’m his friend, and I LOVE this show.

    • Sid December 20, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

      Typical arrogant racist attitude.

  14. Victor January 18, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    I sincerely agree with the actual post and I feel the same. The show is fun to watch and is a light comedy at any time, but unfortunately they have depicted Indians in a very pathetic light.

    I am an Indian. I am a Scientist by Profession too (In Molecular Biology) and have been working in Austria for last few years. And to mention here, I have seen a racist attitude towards Asians by many. It is not that all people are racist here in Europe the same way that all Indians are good/bad!

    But given the popularity of the show, the way they have depicted the Indian culture is totally absurd. Specially the missing of the Beef thing, the spreading of epidemic thing are some of the aspects which was hilariously pathetic. Also the Princess Panchali episode the y way it was commented how to pick up Indian chicks etc. All in all, despite of all nice humor and fun in the show, this is a total RACIST series against Indians and its really sad.

    Sincere Regards
    Dr. Victor Azad
    Salzburg, Austria

  15. Shilpa February 22, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    ofcourse its racist then you have the tv show new girl which is just as racist towards indians accept in this show it is racist towards the women

  16. Shilpa February 22, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    @chacha son putting King over X lol what a joke

  17. goyim March 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    “Anglo-saxon version that dominates” I wish, its Jewish culture that dominates Western TV and film. Notice how Penny the shiksa (which means unclean animal) is portrayed as a slut yet the 2 Jewish females are much less so. This may have something to do with the shows creator Chuck Lorre being Jewish, whose shows show a theme of divorce, alcoholism and dysfunction.

  18. KP April 1, 2012 at 6:22 am #

    Interesting. I don’t generally think it right for anyone to say what should or should not offend a person, particularly in our current social climate of institutionalized racism and microaggressions. That being said… I think you’re projecting your own issues into the show. What makes Raj’s character interesting is the fact that HE SUFFERS FROM A MENTAL ILLNESS – severe social anxiety disorder. Selective mutism is REAL and not relegated to Eastern Indians, dude. Is Howard’s character racist? Horribly. Yet Raj considers him a friend, and that is an INDIVIDUAL’S CHOICE, so why should what YOU think should be offensive to a person in his situation be the be all and end all? If a person in Raj’s position had a friend who did some ribbing but he still liked him as a person, you would ask him to end a friendship that he values more than what you think he should think about his own culture? You think friends of different races don’t joke with each other? They do. I like the realism in that. Raj has in the past had some choice burns on Howard that could certainly be considered bigoted against Jews. More than that, if you watch the show for any length of time, it’s shown that both Raj and his sister aren’t strict followers of Indian culture. Raj would kill for a hamburger. Because it’s expected in America and his oppressors are trying to make him like them? No, for f*** sake! HE LIKES THE WAY IT TASTES. While I support pointing out true racist behavior, putting your own hang ups on other people is what makes others so reluctant to believe that microaggression IS a real thing. You’re detracting from your own cause.

  19. Mrigyanka Chakravarty April 2, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    The person who wrote this article is in an actual sense, stupid. Even Raj calls Howard a pine sized jew. Isn’t that offending? Or do Indians only get to be offending? First of all, when penny first meets Raj, Raj doesn’t respond and Penny tales that as an insult so psychologically, she tries to get back to him by saying if he spoke english? You need brains to actually understand it, cuz its not Uttaran or saas-bahu soaps okay? Sitcoms like the big bang theory are sophisticated and are a result of very strong background research and yeah, the writers probably know more bout the indian culture than you do! So back off. And everybody adores Raj… Howard is his best friend and they hav a strong relationship! Sheldon likes Raj more than others… And in more episodes, they were shown eating Indian food! The thing about the big bang theory is that all the guys are above normal, they’re intellectuals who can’t get girls and Raj suffers from selective muteism… You’d need brains to understand it. Again, it is not uttaran or kahani ghar-ghar ki.

    • Ishita June 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

      i am guessing you are then comfortable with them making assumptions that all Indians are poverty stricken, conservative and poor hygiene. I love the show, love the humor, but i just hate how its depicting India is. I don’t analyse the show, i don’t sit down with a diary to note down all the racist remarks so i won’t be able to quote, but i am guessing you would be fine if some american walked up to you and told you that since you are from India, you’d probably be full of diseases.

      • Blaise Pereira September 27, 2013 at 6:32 am #

        no they assume it is most of the indians and i agree i live in india and the streets and the roads and the railways my gosh it like a nightmare it like frogger with real people

      • Helen B October 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

        I love Bollywood musicals and some of the storylines can be deemed as VERY “racist” towards foreigners and white people. Especially women. The foreign women are often depicted as whores. I don’t find that off putting because I see where the creators are coming from. It’s THEIR cultural view on other races and I respect it because it is their truth. That being said, every culture has stereotypes. You can’t make fun of it if it weren’t true in some capacity. We should all embrace what makes each individual race unique, good and bad, instead of pointing out these “flaws” in storylines because we are ashamed of how our own cultures are perceived by society. There’s nothing WRONG with it if the underlying basis for these situations stem from a universal truth. I myself am Asian and the reason I find this program utterly hilarious is because I can laugh at myself, my culture and the truth that every race has it’s own quirks and flaws that EVERYONE notices.

    • NKV September 28, 2012 at 8:54 am #

      There’s no doubt antisemitism in TBBT, but while all other characters are teased, mainly about their geekiness, only Raj is teased about his culture.I agree that there is antisemitism, but at least a “disgusting” Howard, became nice, met a girl, married her, and became an astronaut.What about Raj?he can’t even get a good date.Even if we accept that penny’s quip about Raj speaking English is a repartee, how does a non-English speaker end up immigrating to the US?May be Hispanic people from mexico/costa rica etc., can immigrate to US and manage with Spanish, but how can anybody else? This is pretty obvious even to laywoman viz penny. I agree with you that US TV shows, whatever genre they may be of, contain very good writing/research/technical aspects which our saas-bahu soaps can’t match.

      Yes, TBBT is very sophisticated, contains excellent screen-writing as regards “Sheldon”, but it is racist.

      The show’s premise is only 3 geeks who are unable to find women, as Sheldon has no interest in women/any sexuality. Of those 3, Howard has married, Leonard slept with more women, than we would expect when we saw the S01E01, dated penny, broke up her and reunited with her, yet Raj’s state is the same as it was in the premiere.

      And finally, eating Indian food frequently doesn’t mean they like/respect Indians. You can find noodles stalls in almost any town in India. Does that man we like the Chinese. We even label, our own Indian citizens from the north-east as “chini”.

      • Tess February 20, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

        how exactly did you expect his chracter to meet a girl and get married? he has severe social anxiety. They’ve tried setting up rajs character, but his disorder intterrupts that. like when they put him on experimental drugs, or by him being drunk, or datng that deaf chick. they tried on multiple occasion but its hard to match that disorder and dating. I mean what were they gonna do, make his character a permanent drunk or permanently on pills forever??

    • pagalguy July 20, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

      I am an Indian living in India and I love the show. The show portrays India as poor because lets face it, India is poor. I don’t feel offended by the jokes because this a comedy show which shows the general attitude of the people. Also the jokes are less racist than the ones we see in Indian comedy shows.

  20. Zufash April 16, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    I love this article, and bravo to the author!
    I find the Big Bang Theory to be not only racist (very, very racist) but sexist as well. I hate to sound like I support the idea that intelligence is determined primarily by one’s deep knowledge of science-related material, but that’s what the show suggests and that’s exactly what Penny, the one main female character in the show, is not. I understand women aren’t represented well in science-related fields, but it does conclude that women are just not intelligent — but forget intelligence: they’re stupid. We see Penny’s character, and we find her being mocked constantly by Sheldon and his buddies.

    But for racism, Raj is depicted as a disgrace to the world, and I, a Pakistani, am utterly offended that the one South Asian they decided to star on the show is an utter asshole, to put it mildly. I simply cannot stand Raj’s character (I understand that’s a personal preference), and it offends me that this is considered comedy. I’d also go so far to say that he’s given really un-funny lines, but I suppose that’s because I don’t appreciate the kinda humor Raj has.

    • Simon Jensen December 25, 2012 at 6:37 am #

      I don’t think your sexism charges hold up. The show repeatedly shows incredibly intelligent women:

      In season 1-2: Leslie Winkle is a physicist who infuriates Sheldon because she fixes an incredibly difficult equation that Sheldon (one of the smartest people in the world) couldn’t solve.

      Season 2: Lennard dates Dr. Stephanie Barnett, a highly distinguished surgical resident at Freemont Memorial Hospital.

      Season 3- : Bernadette starts dating Howard. She is studying microbiology and ends up with a Ph.D. in the field.

      Season 4- : Amy Farrah Fowler is introduced. She is the female counterpart to Sheldon and therefore brilliant! She has a Ph.D. in Neurobiology.

      There are a few other women (such as Raj’s sister Priya) that I won’t point out. Furthermore, one of Penny’s boyfriends named Zack, is depicted as incredibly stupid (much stupider than Penny) so it’s not only women who can be unintelligent on this show.

      So I don’t think you can claim that a show is portraying women as stupid when it has had 4 female characters who were doctors (2 of which appears in every episode).

      And I actually like Raj 🙂 He’s awesome! I don’t see why you dislike him. He’s a sweet nerdy shy guy from India and I see no personal trait of his that I find annoying (perhaps the writers have drawn out the whole selective mutism thing).

      Btw, if this show angers you so much then watch some comedy which doesn’t offend you.. I really don’t like Carrot Top and therefore I don’t watch his shows. Simple as that 🙂

    • Tess February 20, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

      Have you seen the show recently?? Sheldon’s girlfriend amy has challenged sheldon in a match of wits many times. And Burnadette got her doctorate in microbiology, surpassing the academic level of her husband Howard.

    • harris March 21, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

      i am as well Pakistani and am offended by Raj’s role – does Kunal Nayyar ( Raj) has no slef respect/esteem or morale

  21. j May 6, 2012 at 1:42 am #

    so is cha city son for real? or is he just trolling? i refuse to believe that anyone could be that stupid,

    not every show needs a diverse cast to be interesting. i could frankly care less if there is a black cast member on any show. son, if you care so much about seeing black people on tv and seeing things from a black perspective, stick with BET, if your so hard on the black tip and representing your “people”, why are you so concerned with promoting interracial relationships on tv shows? you have some strange views………

  22. aki May 12, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    I read your article and could completely relate to it.

    I’m an indian girl doing my ph.D in Molecular Biology in Germany. I have a large number of non-indian friends and get along with most people quite well. I am very tolerant towards light-hearted jokes towards indian culture, but if i was in Raj’s shoes I would be deeply offended. I recently saw an episode where Sheldon calls India a third world country with a third world hygiene and comes to the conclusion that since Raj is indian he must have pinworms in his rectum. I find such instances in BBT quite racist and if a friend of mine said such a thing to me I would completely stop talking to him/her. In addition, my other non-indian friends would be disgusted by such low humor. There is a fine line between humor and racism and BBT has really crossed it. I admit I find the show funny but the racism bothers me.

    While I was in India, slumdog millionnaire was released. I enjoyed the film immensely and found people who said that it potrayed indians in a bad light to be hyper-sensitive. When I came to Germany, a few ignorant colleagues of mine believed that India only contains slums where kids start singing and dancing in the middle of the night (the latter part of the sentence was an exaggeration, ofcourse). I faced a few racist comments due to the shoddy potrayal of India. I agree that many such areas exist in India, but that’s not all there is to India. BBT seems to have done the same. My friends in India love the show, since they are not suffering from stupid comments made by few ignorant persons. I, on the other hand, have decided to stop watching the show (I know, who cares if I stop watching), but it is my silent protest.

    Oh and by the way, I am a huge ‘nerd’ {read straight A grades}, and so are my friends, but we are definitely not socially inept. That is another stereotype in the show, but I suppose it has to be retained since that forms the premise of the whole show. I sometimes wish they would have a sociable scientist on the show :).

    • Anonymous November 26, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

      Dr. Plimpton?

  23. aki May 12, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    Oh, I am dating a german guy and even he finds the show racist (which is not surprising since american film and televison tends to potray germans as evil soulless creatures since the second world war) In fact, they do the same with russians, now that I think about it. Anyway, I’m digressing now. cheers.

  24. Shaun June 2, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    Comment made by vaneshree- that is where rasicim starts ’cause of that I’m gonna treat the next white person I meet the same’
    Mate, I’m mixed race – Italian African and British, I watch this show toooo much and I always wondered about the racial attacks in the show and how they degrade raj constantly, in my point of view it’s morally Jews in American shows that get the shit given to them or blacks but they really nail raj on the sly with deep disgusting comments on him and his ethnic background and they warner bros (which is a rasict secret society comtrolled company) manipulate his script to degrade himself. This ain’t the only show that does it and after much research on Hollywood on YouTube, it’s a fucked up world we live in and American is trying to take control subliminally through the music industry, media and tv shows conditioning us sub consciously to create rasicim sub consciously in our minds!!!!

  25. you gotserved June 12, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    get over it, the entire show is Jew propaganda anyways. Jews using white aryan girls as whores, Jews mocking everyone but well… Jews!

    • Zondrah June 13, 2012 at 1:05 am #

      Aryan is a Sanskrit word meaning “noble” that was hijacked by Europeans with political agendas who interpreted it to suit their own purposes. It was never meant to signify race. The Vedas discuss the idea of “becoming” an Aryan, implying that it is not an inherent designation. The concept of “Aryan race,” “Aryan invasion,” and “Aryan languages” is nothing but propaganda. I also don’t think that the show puts Jewish people in a particularly good light, either, similar to the way that Sex and the City 2 made questionable statements about homosexuals despite being written by a gay man.

  26. dee June 22, 2012 at 12:50 am #

    I’m black and I agree with you. I just started watching the show, and at first I thought it was quite funny, but I soon began to notice similar notions on the show, that made me feel uneasy. It’s what brought me here to this site, through google. I wanted to see if I was just overreacting, or if other people also felt like something was off about the way the show depicts Raj, and his culture. I can relate, as black people are almost always stereotyped on TV, too. But even that is at least better than how it is for Asians, who get far less representation on TV. Also, I come from an African family, so I take personal offense to the promotion of ignorance and intolerance about other cultures. I don’t understand why it’s so insanely rare for us to have have wholly unique minority characters on TV, and in films. Stereotypes disgust me. I want to see real people.

    • that guy January 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

      nice one dee

  27. John Anthony Patrick Ward August 15, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    guys it isn’t racist,it’s funny as hell,i’m irish desent living in england and if i thought that show was racist i wouldn’t watch it,it’s not like ther calling rag derogatory names and if it was racist i’m sure the character who playded him would have something to say so basically if you haven’t got anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.PEACE ALL:)

  28. Shanta Venkataraman August 16, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    I am an Asian. This is no joke, b******. I watch the Big Bang Theory, and it’s one of the best damn shows out there. It’s a COMEDY sow for god’s sake.

    Here are a few things I’d like to point out:

    1.) Raj says he is RICH many times.
    2.) Penny maybe a slut, but her two best friends are nerds.
    3.) Sheldon is picked on the most.
    4.) Raj is racist against HIMSLEF at times.
    5.) Howard says things about Jews that could be considered racist, but he is talking about hmself
    6.) This show contains nerds, scientific remarks, and EXTREMELY MILDY racist humour, DON’T LIKE? DON’T WATCH.

  29. Shakun August 23, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    Definitely an interesting read, but this doesn’t seem to be the correct way to look at things. I am a huge fan of The Big Bang Theory (and an Indian) and I don’t think anything has been essentially racist. Also, Raj is not East Indian.

    Now, each character on the show has been made fun of in politically incorrect ways, on numerous occasions. Penny’s ‘brawny’ Nebraska hands and crude accent/mannerisms, Howard’s circumcisions and him still living with this mother (that Leonard’s mother says is “a cliche” since he is a Jew) and Sheldon’s overly religious “born-again Christian” mother, to name a few. So with all this, the fun that the show pokes at Raj shouldn’t be perceived as ‘racist’ and it shouldn’t disgust anyone.

    Yes, Raj cannot speak to women…he has selective mutism and this just goes on to show that his character is that of a guy who is very shy and living in a country that is very different from the one in which he has grown up. You put an already shy boy in a place where the women are so very different from the ones back home and his shyness is bound to escalate. When Raj drinks, his inhibitions go away and he is then able to talk to women. Nothing racist about this.

    With regards to Sheldon’s comments, I think this reflects more on Sheldon’s ignorance and how he believes everything he says is right…or maybe you’re just reading too much into it. The character made a few passing statements, and that’s all. Sheldon is also the very same guy who calls the Indian train system ‘magnificent’ when Raj remarks that trains in India don’t even have modern plumbing.

    Raj’s character is always whining about how India is hot and overcrowded and how he never wants to go back. It is Raj who is always trying to impress women with mentions of Slumdog Millionaire and how it is ‘loosely based on his life’.

    All in all, it is just a show, and a pretty good one at that. It is funny and does not make you want to shoot yourself in the head the way these very ‘Indian’ ‘non-racist’ shows do. Have you ever noticed how Americans and/or Brits are portrayed in Indian shows? We live in a world where cliches exist and these tend to creep into everything. Racism exists everywhere and Indians do it much worse because we are racist within our own country…on a state-to-state basis.

    Coming back to The Big Bang Theory in particular, I’m sorry but I don’t see any racism. The characters all treat Raj with respect, they defend him when needed, they all care about him and love him. They just make fun of him at times…something that all friends do.

    • NKV September 28, 2012 at 9:13 am #

      When have they defended him? In “The Jiminy Conjecture”, when the entomologist quips about his job being out sourced to Bangalore, neither Howard nor Sheldon responds.

      When, in “The Pirate solution”, Raj says he doesn’t want to go back to India, none of the “beautiful minds” suggest that Raj continue his research at internationally renowned Indian Science Institutes like the IITs, TIFR, IISC etc.,

      No doubt there are other forms of racism also, but what is their frequency? What is the frequency of “making fun of Raj” ? And what about Indian man in turban, who grew up with kamasutra colouring books in S05E02???

      The part about being a naturally shy man, in a culturally different society is very good insight, but even if that was alone the case, why doesn’t Raj go to a bar, take a drink, and meet a girl, and date her for at least two episodes????

      Bottom lime is, it is brilliant comedy when it comes, stand-alone to Sheldon, but it is also racist.

  30. Ted Taylor August 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    I love the Big Bang Theory show and watch even the re-runs repeatedly (you’re right, there is little to watch out there!). I do have to admit that there are times when both the humor directed at Raj and the overtly anti-semetic caricatures of Howard (and his mother) make me cringe. In the interest of full disclosure: I cringe, but then I laugh.

    Maybe I’m over-thinking this a bit, but I do think the fact they’re making one cringe…and even making you a bit sick…is part of the point of the show. Even four people who grew up being ignored or bullied can look down on others. Even extremely intelligent people..and the premise is that they are all extremely intelligent…can accept and perpetuate the most baseless and unintelligent prejudiced and bigotted ideas.

    I appreciate that you were offended and sympathize in many ways. Moreso where it comes to the blatantly bigotted lines in the show. I’m not sure I want to read so much into the “having his character a certain way (the being mute around women, for example) stuff. At least not any more than the obvious “Jewish jokes” surrounding Howard’s and his mother’s character. I am just naive enough to believe that the show’s writers WANT the characters to be flawed and want the viewer to be uncomfortable at times…all the while attempting to do it while trying to be funny.

    Interesting read.

    • john anthony patrick ward August 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

      hell to da yeah .damn right.

    • Harry Umed January 16, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

      sorry Ted but the point isn’t that they all have flaws and they all make your wanna cringe the pont is that despite those flaws Sheldon Leonard and Wolowitz are all successfully in relationships and are viewed positively. Raj is pretty much the biggest loser on the show and ever one of his flaws is played up to make him look like an even bigger joke.

    • Tess February 20, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

      completely agree, even chuck lorre has said his humor is meant to make people uncomfortable. he makes fun of everyones culture and everyones background including his own. its just humor. people make little race jokes to one another in real life in fact its on the most obvious signs of a close and comfortable friendship, cause you know the other wont take it seriously or get offended.

  31. john anthony patrick ward August 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    my email is johnapward@hotmail.co.uk

  32. John November 6, 2012 at 5:03 am #

    Hollywood paints racist charicatures of minorities in nearly every movie, the black ghetto gangster, the illegal mexican immigrant, the Kung Fu master or nerd chinaman, the backward Indian man, name one Indian actor who has considerable fame in Hollywood, none, only one or two minority actors have made it, Jackie chan, Morgan Freeman, Samuel Jackson, despite Hollywood’s Jewish oligarchy, Jewish actors don’t do that well either, let’s face it Hollywood is extremely racist and homophobic and does not care about political correctness, they have stereotypes about Europeans too, they are milder, but they exist such as, the sexual deviant German, the silly Frenchman, the Italian mafioso, the violent irish, the uptight Englishman,

    • the_earl_of_canterbury January 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

      agree completely. Only the stereotypes for non-whites aren’t silly as much as they are humiliating.

  33. sweet jane November 16, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    Here is my take on Raj: when I saw the shows containing the incidents you described, I thought they were making fun of the people who made the culturally insensitive remarks–e.g., Penny, Sheldon–and not Raj. Also, Sheldon thinks he is superior to EVERYONE not just Raj. He makes fun of everyone’s background; honestly, he’s much harsher about Penny and her background than about Raj. Finally, Raj is incredibly good-looking, super smart, well-off and attractive to women; they had to do something to make him less than perfect so he would fit in with the rest of the geeks on the show, so they gave him the selective speech problem; yes, I think it is a joke that has gone on too long, but I seriously don’t think they are trying to shut him up b/c he’s not white; I think, having given him this flaw, they can’t find a way out. He’s too close to perfct, and a perfect Raj would be boring.

    • mrfantastic25 November 19, 2012 at 12:25 am #

      Eh I dont buy it. Then why has the guy been chronically single for 7 years when everyone else has been able to find someone. Even Sheldon who has zero interest in women has a girlfriend. Yet the arguably best looking successful and most financially well off dude cant even get to first base with anyone?

    • the_earl_of_canterbury January 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

      disagree

  34. mrfantastic25 November 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    7 seasons in and Raj has never had girlfriend and the only woman willing to sleep with him was into some weird kinky nonsense.
    He’s above average in looks at least in comparison to the rest of the guys, he’s physcist with a doctorate, and he comes from wealthy family but he is the only person on the show that can’t find a woman?
    Sheldon is asexual with absolutely no interest in women yet has a girlfriend, Leonard is constantly overbearing and annoying yet the “hot girl” sees through all of that and loves him. Even the perverted Howard who creeped women out found a cute interesting girl (who Raj is secretly in love because God forbid he find a woman of his own in a city of millions) yet the closest Raj has ever come to a significant other is a questionable homo erotic relationship with Howard and the pathetic relationship with SIRI.
    How can anyone deny the obvious stereotyping and racial disparagement of this character. Only non white person despite education, looks, and high economic status is the only one who can’t find anyone over the course of 7 YEARS.
    Come on people put on your thinking caps.

    • the_earl_of_canterbury January 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      completely with you on that one.

  35. thinkblacknwhite December 3, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    Why are you bothered by whatever some socially awkward characters say in a comedy show of some XYZ country.. Its a fun show..and kindly don’t adopt a holier than thou attitude..Indians are among the most racist of all people.. Here Fairness Creams are sold by the millions..wat does that say.?forever pursuing the Fair skin…y do indians queue up to even go to America or UK?

    • thinkblacknwhite December 3, 2012 at 12:37 am #

      Yah Raj not having girlfriend till now is a bit Odd..he could easily have an Indian girlfriend..but you cannot always expect that you go to a foreign land..and the girls there will fall for you

  36. BGK December 3, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    I watch the show regularly here in India. I have never thought about these issues. I only watch sitcoms if there is strong characterization and witty dialog. The show’s writing is really good on that count. I seek consistency in life, and the writers do a good job in maintaining consistency of characterization. Please do not take sitcoms seriously. Laughter on sitcoms is generated through self-deprecation and mocking stereotypes. After years of TV and internet, you would expect people to differentiate between reality and fiction. If not, then that is a sad remark on the state of humanity itself.

  37. rikk December 6, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    This was a great analysis thank you. was wondering if you could do something with the show New Girl. i am appalled at the anti Indian male racism stating cece should be with Schmidt and the actress herself has lines in the show putting down Indian males. in real life the actress’s father is Indian and mother is white so think about the sheer hypocrisy!

  38. BBTasses December 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    Here are some facts about India. It would be great if these geeks could joke about it-

    1) The IQ of an average Indian is greater than citizens of any other country.
    2) Since its all about experiments, discovery & shit, 0 was invented in India by Aryabhatta, even the value of pi, trigonometry,algebra and many other astronomical discoveries. Without its discovery all the mathematicians would have been shitting in their pants.
    3)In India, even those good in studies aren’t totally nerdy. Even the studious types are good in dealing with girls. Better than the nerds shown in BBT.
    4) India is the land of earliest civilization. While Americans still lived in jungles and used to shit there, we had homes and proper baths and toilets.
    5) Over the years I have seen many musicians,actors from US and UK coming to India. They are fond of Indian food and the stupid character of Raj dislikes Indian food.

    Its stupid, I even started typing. Get to know India in detail and then make fun of anything.

  39. avid_researcher January 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    have you noticed that Raj can’t get women. But his sister pitches up and immediately hooks up with Leonard.

    Its an emasculation technique many western shows and movies use. That 70’s Show used to do it to. Remember how Fez couldn’t get women either? Spot any similarity? (Funny things is that in real life that dude nails probably as many white women as tiger woods)

    Its a white-guy mentality. It stems from the fact that the majority of white male viewers are subconsciously racist, only against non-white males. It appears that the idea of a non-white male with a white female subconsciously disgusts white male viewers. To be fair, the show isn’t racist. They are just catering to their audience. The viewership is racist. (But only against males) It happens right through films as well.

    Try to think of a mainstream movie, (As in a blockbuster type that doesn’t have race as its plot point) that has a non white male with a white female. They are only a handful, if that.

    But think of the reverse. There are plenty. Zoe Saldana movies come to mind. Its in Looper, and Skyfall, and Fantastic Four, and a bunch of others.

    But here’s a weird point. If you watch women’s shows, non-white men hook up with white women quite often.

    It appears that this issue only disgusts white men.

    There was actually some research on it, by a bunch of white women scientists. My apologies, I forget who published it. If anyone finds it, please can you post a link.

    The research involved portraying adam and eve as an interracial couple and peoples views.

    Basically it boils down to a white male psyche of humiliating non-white men while taking their women.(Think of the penis size jokes regarding asian men.. The size issue was proven to be false, through what I can only imagine was some really awkward research.)

    If you’re a non-white man and you haven’t noticed this, well…you must not have lived in western society for very long.

    • Murphy January 7, 2013 at 10:10 am #

      From all these comments here one would think Hollywood and Western countries actually owe something to non-whites and needs to have ‘diversity’ *puke* in everything. Consider non-whites have organizations, caucuses and even scholarships for them that excludes whites, pushes agendas for their race and are always proud to show their racial heritage. Seems to me non-whites are the most racist out of anyone and the biggest hypocrites to boot. (93 percent of blacks voted for Obama.)

      Having blacks in a show with geniuses would be completely unrealistic just as Disney had a black girl in The Prince and the Frog. Stereotypes exist because there’s at least some truth to them whether people want to believe that or not and making shows based around non-whites that has no basis in reality aren’t going to last long before being cancelled.

      As for the comment above regarding the melting pot, that has always meant people from all the White European countries coming here since the United States’ roots is based on Caucasian peoples. It’s because of The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 also known as the Hart-Celler Act that changed that to majority non-white immigration along with the propaganda that it’s ‘good’ for us since then that we’re not far off from becoming one ourselves now.

      Between this and political correctness, it’s no wonder all those who look for racism in everything can’t just change the channel or watch something else instead of b*tch and moan about TBBT.

    • Pinky January 26, 2013 at 1:29 am #

      I think everyone is overlooking one important fact, this is a show about geeky scientists! As a neuroscientist myself, I find the show pretty accurate, both scientifically and in character development. For each character in the show, I know someone very similar and i find the stereotyping hysterical because things tend to be stereotyped for a reason. Everyone is ridiculed, not just race. There are plenty of black geniuses but truly there are not many in science. You may not be happy about it but there are none in my department. It is unfortunate but a fact. Many in our department, from different backgrounds watch the show and we are able to laugh, not only at the show but the portrayal of ourselves. We do tease and make fun of each other because not everything in the real world is PC. Unfortunately, many seem to take everything as a personal affront to their own situation, not realizing that not everything revolves around them. So lighten up!

    • Tess February 20, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

      They all have been humiliated as having a hard time getting girls!! leonard has been humiliated trying to pick up women. Howard has outwardedly said hes even been hit with pepper spray, and sheldon has just now recently got a girlfriend and cant even yet have sex with her. The only difference is Raj is set up to fail, he can have a quick fling, but a real relationship if difficult due to his selective mutism and severe social anxiety. I mean they couldn’t make his character stay permanently drunk, or on experimental medication the rest of his life. And the deaf girl he dated was an interesting approach but ultimately people watching the show cant spend every episode waiting patiently to watch sign language and THEN the response reiterated by Howard. But as for hooking up, lets look back, there was the girl at the Halloween party in the lady bug costume, the girl in the pink dress from the bar, Emily the deaf chick, Penny (wasn’t that a twist), The girl dressed as sailor moon at comic con and Abby (the girl from the university mixer). Also, Stewart is a white male unable to obtain a meaningful relationship and so is Barry Kripke, another white male.

  40. the_earl_of_canterbury January 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    nice post. Thanks.

  41. jay January 5, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    Do you take into count the funny that is poked at the “stupid” characters. Raj is one of the best character on the show. You are way to damn uptight and need to stop. Half of my family isn’t even from his country. My step dad is from Pakistan (before some dumbs fellow American says “that’s not India” they were the same country tell around the late 40s) and raj reminds me of him. And IF kunal thought all of this pretty sure he would say something. For god sakes he is Indian so I think he would feel this way before you so STFU.

  42. jay January 5, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

    For all my spelling and grammar issues blame my 5 year old blackberry the keyboard is dieing and I basically need to “punch” my keys

  43. Ajdcn January 9, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    Please tell me this is some dumb joke…I mean, the show is obviously soooo racist, and y’know, just ignore the fact they make fun of the ENTIRE cast. Oh, but obviously the fact they’re being sooooo racist towards Raj takes precedence…And the fact that they haven’t cast a black person in the show, how will you cope?!
    And as for those of you saying the show is racist for not having Penny date a black man, please! Penny has a TYPE, like so many of us have! Other than Leonard, she is attracted to dumb white guys! Is that not obvious?
    And if you find the show so racist, why on earth have you seen episodes in season 3?! Stop watching it!!
    Anyway, you are all just finding things to complain about, go out and enjoy life. -_-

  44. Irfan January 16, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

    I want to say that I really didn’t agree with this for a long time and I really wanted to excuse the show of all of it because they really did make fun of everything stereotypical. (ie: Penny the dumb blonde ditz, all the nerds for liking anything remotely uncool or technical, jocks as dumb roid ragers and Sheldon)

    But now that we find ourselves in the 6th season I can’t do it anymore. Back then Raj was made fun of and he couldn’t talk to girls and he was a major nerd. But I can think of two times this didn’t affect his luck with girls and one of those cases it helped him land a girl. I’m talking about the halloween episode when his not being able to talk to women landed him with a girl who was full of herself and loved that he was “such a good listener” and he got lucky that night when Lennard the show’s protagonist and Howard the guy trying way too hard both failed. The other time was with Sheldon’s sister who rejected everybody but wanted Raj to talk to her. Now that I think about it I can name one more. When stuck on a train only Raj was able to successfully flirt with Summer Glau. Howard crashed and burned and got his phone broken by being a freak and Summer ran from Lennard being all awkward and weird. Back then Raj even played on those stereotypes made by “stupid Americans” like using Slumdog Millionaire as a pickup line more than once.

    The last I want to say 2 seasons were a completely different story. Lennard finally gets Penny and helps Howard and Bernadette into a relationship. Then Raj and Howard accidentally give Sheldon a girlfriend. All the while Raj is left alone and for an unexplained reason getting worse and worse at flirting. It came to a head I think last season when all the guys couldn’t spend time away from the girls and left him alone. He complained and finally made a big commotion about it in front of everybody. What was the take away? “And that’s how a girl makes a scene.” Thanks for that Penny. From that point on Raj was played as the borderline gay obsessed with chick stuff loser that could never land a girl’s number let alone have a date and get himself a girlfriend. In fact the most recent episode had Penny and the girls even set him up with some chick that was drunk enough to take home anything and Raj still struck out. Then instead of addressing that they jump to how poor Amy was the only girlfriend Raj didn’t lust after. Raj is then played for a fool by being tricked into liking Amy only to not get her either and have the girls end their girl’s night arm in arm with their little mascot.

    Sadly Raj isn’t even the point. It would be less horrible if it was just a constant insult and degradation of 1 non-white character on a sitcom but the show’s gone and made fun of anything non-white lately. In possibly my favorite recent episode the Fish Guts episode everything would have been so funny and the sexual innuendo between Sheldon and Amy would have been perfect. Problem? In the very beginning of the show Howard tells the group he is going to have dinner at Bernadette’s and he doesn’t know how to break the ice with her very scary policeman father. Sheldon goes on to say his usual thing and comes up with the topic Howard could use about how you can’t bury a Chinese person in America deep enough to reach China so the person will never be able to rest in his “native” land as long as he is buried in America. Thanks for that Sheldon. Throughout the series there have been many negative comments about Asia but making a blatant point to say some person who may in fact have been born in America will never be buried in their native home no matter how deep the grave is dug is probably the most vile and vicious thing I’ve ever heard on a sitcom.

    I miss the days when it was just Howard and Sheldon learning really really poor Chinese and making a moron out of himself by arguing with a Chinese Restaurant owner or Lennard almost giving away national secrets to a North Korean spy. Where did those jokes go? Where did Raj’s ironic success with women go? Why are we all stuck listening to things about burying Asian people and laughing about how that means they’ll never get home? Why are we stuck watching an Asian person fail so hard and be the butt of every joke? I would say something like we could watch CBS’s other major sitcom How I Met Your Mother instead but then Cook Poo comes to mind. Nope it seems if you want to watch tv in today’s day and age you’ll just have to sit through this part to get at the goods. (Sheldon rubbed vaporub and spanked Amy lol) I mean the only other way to avoid it would be to watch old shows and that gets lame fast. And it isn’t like you can just go online and find a game to play without the racism because a few Jamaican orcs and one ninja pandaran drunken boxer later and you’ll need a vomit bag.

  45. Jon February 12, 2013 at 12:46 am #

    Stupidest post I’ve ever read. Every character in it is a sterotype to various degrees. Since when is being shy around girls an Indian thing… all the characters have their weird foibles – Jeez he’s not being singled out. I think most viewers get a very favourable impression of Raj, his parents and his hot sister. All of the characters are nerds… except for the one (equally sterotypical) token ditzy blonde.

    Whoever told you that this was an intelligent comedy is obviously an idiot, as it’s about as dumb as they come… but racist? No. In fact, I’d suggest it’s almost impossible to make a comedy without having a little fun at the expense of the protagonists. Lighten up… how often are we laughing at stupid characters that happen to be white. All the time!!!

  46. Bo March 13, 2013 at 5:05 am #

    You’re portraying a simple “us” and “them” argument.
    Raj does not represent the whole Asian culture. Raj represents Raj – a PERSON that grew up in India and has a speech problem. Anyone that believes all Asians are like that after seeing only one PERSON is ignorant. All people are different no matter the skin colour.

    You dislike the way BBT have created Raj, that much is clear, but is it the character that troubles you or the fact he is Indian?

  47. bekkster April 30, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    Interesting post. I do think Raj often responds to his friends when they cast stereotypes upon him, but I can see what you mean in your analysis. I also thought it was a little eyebrow-raising that the girl Leonard dated before Penny, “Joyce Kim” or something like that, “defected to North Korea,” i.e., foreigners are not part of American culture and might even be spies.

    I found this blog because I was looking for articles on racism in Friends. I’ve seen enough episodes of Friends by now to see that it was quite, quite racist!

  48. chuck May 11, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    You’re being insanely hypersensitive bro.

  49. Anu May 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    If Raj was not one of the characters I would probabaly like the show a little. It is still way too formulaic and boring. “3rd rock from the sun ” was an intelligent show dressed as a b grade sitom. It was way funnier and entertaining than this racist show masquerading as an clever just because the main lead parrots nerdy information like an Autsitic savant! They make every character insult raj in one way or the other. Initially, it was annoying. Now I am majorly offended.

  50. Kate May 16, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    You make some good points. In my opinion, you can argue either way with TBBT (racist or not racist) since the show is about awkward nerds anyway. As someone from a South Asian community, I felt like Raj’s character was an appropriate caricature of actual, overly romantic South Asian men obsessed with white women (I’m sorry, but so many I’ve met ARE awkward around women!) Raj’s sister is fine though – very pretty, successful, and has no problem getting dates.

    I’m a fan of the show, but I know where the criticisms come from. The show doesn’t make it a point to revolutionize stereotypes (like making the hot blonde girl next door a failed actress with no serious career. Even if Penny were a successful actress…seriously does every attractive blonde have to go into acting and modeling??) And Raj’s ‘hatred’ of India needs to be toned down.

    In general, TV/film potrayals of modern American society are totally out of touch with the real world. Nowadays, many women are educated professionals (doctors, engineers, scientists, business professionals, etc.), and whites have become a demographic minority. But turn on the TV or go to the film theatre, you still see that majority of the characters are white, with unsuccessful females, and token minorities.

  51. Raj K. Mohanlal May 17, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    You’re ABSOLUTELY CORRECT when you say that TBBT is racist towards raj because you know how I got to your post? Lemme tell you the story. I was watching TBBT-Season_6-Episode 24. And Raj says to Lucy (his newly acquired gf) over video chat that “…Please don’t make me beg, because I am from “INDIA” and I can do that very well.

    I just flipped and paused the show and started looking for post where people address this racist issue. Or is it just me, an Indian who is finding it offensive.

    I don’t know why the producers and directors allow such racism on such a popular sitcom. This is typical of American sitcoms man.

    • imrankabirkhan August 23, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

      Well,let me break this down to all the ppl who are grumbling abt racism in bbt. Whatever I’m gonna say may sound offensive to many but it is the truth.
      The USA is a white majority nation. Abt 70% of the population is white. So the producers will only make stuff which will be appealing to the majority. Ever wondered why you rarely see hollywood movies with non-white male leads.Its not becoz non-whites are less talented,its becoz the majority wants to see a white male lead. In the bbt, this male lead is Leonard, who,despite being very average looking and effiminate manages to woo the gorgeously attractive Priya. It is a well know fact that white’s do enjoy making fun of non-whites esp jews,blacks,indians,asians, and this aspect of humour is brought out quite effectively in sitcoms. Tbh, racist jokes are the in-thing now. Most of the famous comedians including anglo-indian Russel peters makes fun of different races. But what I have noticed that racism against blacks is strongly shunned mainly because of the past turbulent history. A glaring example of this bigotry is the complete degradation of Raj,an Indian guy who, despite being fairly attractive faces absolute rejection all the time, to the point that he is occasionally homosexually linked to the other minority in the show, Jewish Howard. Is Raj really so ugly that he ‘will not be considered even if he’s the last man on earth.loser’ and Leonard, so attractive, that girls like Priya,Sheldon’s assistant,literally drool all over him. The character Sheldon is just a dummy candidate, to delude ppl into believing that the show is not racist. But racist side apart, Sheldon is the main usp of an otherwise pretty boring and racist show. I think this negative stereotyping of Indian men as nerdy, funny, unattractive,shy needs to be thrashed and that is only possible if we stop taking up such roles which demasculates and demeans us as men. I find that many Indian men are willing to become a laughing stock in showbiz,just to climb up that ladder of fame.

    • Arun Basil Lal October 16, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

      Oh man, I have been watching BBT and I have seen the racist jokes and stuff, but I never got offended until now. I did exactly what you did, was watching S6E24, heard that line, paused the show, googled for posts and found this.

      I always had beef about how Hollywood always shows India as crowded and dirty and filled with people who are not very clean. And now this. What is wrong with these people!

      BBT was in my top ten favorite sitcoms, I dont think it is anymore. Season after season its quality has been degrading faster than the battery of a cheap android phone. sigh.

    • Fan March 21, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

      It is just you man – well I guess you and a billion Indians 🙂 – but still, it’s just all of you – I may guarantee you – nobody is against you and these words Raj said don’t make India look bad. Also – Raj is a good advertisement for India, you may bet, he is awesome and I’m sure all you Indian people are!

    • Aakanksha September 10, 2014 at 6:06 am #

      Yes i did the same thing and found this post.. Its really disgusting. Shame on kunal nayyar for playing this role

    • Бружон April 30, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

      Because society makes fun of minorities.

  52. Elijah Zane August 18, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    You realize of course that while Big Bang Theory is rather unfunny and I think their are some racist jokes at Raj’s expense in the show, his being mute and Sheldon being a dick is not an example of this. Every joke Sheldon makes against Raj is a joke at Sheldon’s expense, when he says that is why they have famine in india, its funny because its so far from the truth that Sheldon looks like a moron. when he says “Tries to understand our culture and fails” its funny because that is exactly why Sheldon does. As for Raj being silent, I don’t think that is racial its more the fact each other character has their lame quirks, Sheldon’s narrassism, Leonard’s being a coward, Howard being a sleeze, that you could get alot of physical comedy out of Raj’s being silent around girls. Its also not reflective of his culture’s view towards women its pretty obvious that he is just shy. Now I grant you, their are racist Jokes at Raj’s expense, that just isn’t one of them.

  53. Harry Umed September 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    update for the new season

    so here we are at the start of the new season and Raj is finally free to talk to women all he wants! great right? what all us fans had wanted since the first season of epic anti-Raj racism right? wrong. now he’s being played out as a metro with the same fail at hitting on women that all asians supposedly have. in the premeire they make Howard accidentally (key words) more girly because of estrogen cream and he asks Raj to check out his boobs. Cue supergirly weird Raj touching Howard and measuring it against himself. Raj btw has not been taking estrogen. he’s apparently just girly by nature.

    i’m seriously jounsing for the days when we had episodes of Raj hitting on Summer Glau and getting laid just for being a “good listener.” where the hell did those episodes go?

  54. Ariel February 12, 2014 at 5:41 am #

    My problems with this show has always been the way nerds are depicted, or geeks as the mainstream refers to them, as though that makes it more palatable. I was disturbed by the episode “The Bakersfield Expedition” in which the guys go to a comic convention dressed as members of STNG. In this episode there is a very funny bit about the girls trying to figure out why the guys are into comic book so much. However, that funny bit is overshadowed by a scene in which the girls walk into the comic book store and all the guys stare at them. Way to stereotype! It’s not like in real life you ever find a girl in a comic book store. Heaven forbid! Then the coda of the episode is more than borderline racist. During the ep, Leonard’s car is stole. The code of the episode features a couple of ethnic guys, obviously two latino guys with tatoos laughing at Sheldon’s GPS hack. Right because all car jackers are hispanic thugs…got it! At least it wasn’t two black guys, that probably would have been too overt.

  55. Fan March 21, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    Today I was watching the episode when Sheldon and Raj are working together – just thinking for hours and it was pure fun, also today I saw the one where Raj got this huge desk – this is hilarious… man, I really think you take all this too seriously with this rant and all… ah yes – after all the thinking Raj and Sheldon argued and after all it appeared that Raj was right and Sheldon admitted it… come on man, this is so friendly show, it is against nobody, it is just pure fun.

  56. Lee April 13, 2014 at 12:38 am #

    This many replies and no one mentioned the heightism in the show?!

  57. Durzo Blint April 30, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the ongoing uncertainty of Raj’s sexuality. This joke has obviously taken precedence over finding Raj a long term lover, as well as the questionable closeness of Raj and Howard. As already mentioned, each character have their own specific ‘flaw’ if you will. Maybe im being naive and my foolish faith in humanity has took over, I am certain this is being over analysised. We have here a group of friends whom share banter and care for one another, it just so happens one is of Indian origin.

  58. Minoo May 10, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

    you can see the worst racist comment on season 7 episode 23 where Howard told his wife about hiring a nurse for his mother from the third world country who is used to suffering and unpleasant smells !!!!!!!!!!! That was way too offensive.

    I couldn’t agree more to the person who wrote this post. It is absolutely offensive and is full of anti asian sentiments

  59. Rahul June 4, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

    Thank you author for all your time and effort.

    1. TBBT is awesome. It is the only show which I really love.
    2. Indians / Asians can do NOTHING about this. All we can do is complain. No body will listen.
    3. The only way we can rectify this is by creating a show even better than TBBT, get more viewership than TBBT. We will NOT insult the US, and still we make more people laugh. After that, we slap our show on their show, and let us see how they react THEN.
    4. ‘Raj’ is 95% dis-respected character all through the show. 5% good is portrayed (for the sake of avoiding legal issues). It is very evident the whole motive of having the character ‘Raj’ is not for making others laugh through words/actions. It is mostly to make other laugh by being laughed at.
    5. We Indians/Asians keep watching this (including me). This adds to the mess.

    Thank you again to all.

  60. Adam July 18, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

    i would have to agree, as a european-american with a distinct pro-indian (pro-ethnic) outlook, that this show is disgustingly racist and tries to ‘sneak it in” as oftne as possible. One of the most recent examples includes a South Asian woman saying she had 7 children (cue mindless crowd laughter). This sort of racism against south asians is the new “popular” bigotry. I have noticed it on another CBS show this year: “Under the Dome” a new “villain” character has been introduced, a female almost certainly meant to be of South asian ancestry, who talks about eugenics and survival of the fittest. She is played by british actress Karla Crome (who probably has no clue, and is blameless). There IS a conspiracy here, Its obvious to me, ask yourself a few good questions:

    1. Do we really know much about the people behind marketing.9 and CBS’s “the crazy ones”)
    2. What is Chuck Lorre’s background, and the real nature of his ‘dispute’ with charley Sheen (and its not a simple as you might think)
    3. What culture hates the desi people (I’ll give you a hint, the desi booted a culture out of india centuries ago). The South Asian ppl here are smart enough to figure this out.

  61. Heather August 9, 2014 at 2:53 am #

    Oh please. They make fun of everyone on this show… you seem to forget the multiple times Raj makes fun of Howard for being Jewish and when he makes fun of his white friends and their American accent. I guess you don’t have real friends who are a different race or culture than you because true friends all make fun of one another and laugh about it. Get ur panties out of a bunch. It’s a great show, if you don’t like it… they have this great invention called a remote control…just one push of a button and problem solved!

  62. Maanasa Kumar August 16, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    I find this quite funny as I am an Indian and I love watching the show. And as someone else said, they make fun of all the characters. And the scene about Mc. Donalds, can you argue with that? Mc.D in India doesn’t serve beef at all. And at the end of the day, I am patriotic and proud to be an Indian. But that doesn’t mean I can say that people in our country are not oppressed at certain places. It is a fact. I don’t see the big deal as if it really offended you to this extent, why did you continue watching it? I’m sure there are many BBT fans in India, like me. We had common discussions in college and admired BBT. FYI, I studied in India so don’t bother arguing with me on that one. You people need to chill. If the show was solely focused on mocking indians, I’d probably support your article. But it’s not. So you’re making a big deal out of nothing.

  63. Aakanksha September 10, 2014 at 5:50 am #

    You should have watched season 6 where he said to his friend while convincing him/her that “please dont make me beg because i really know how to beg as i am from india” seriously shame on him if he is a true indian. I live here in usa and i find beggars here too. In downtown and sometimes they knock the doors to beg.. How can they show india as a beggar’s land? Its disgusting

  64. Atif October 2, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    I’m from India and, like Raj, I have a form of social anxiety. I didn’t notice any double meanings or analyze it so deeply, but I did find many things about India (and also nerds and geeks) inaccurately depicted, yet I found the show quite funny overall. Is that bad? ._.

    Lots of Indians watch TBBT and they like it.

    I don’t like the recent episodes much, though.

    Many of us Indians don’t like the strictness of our culture and our society doesn’t view women as equals, altough the government and non-government are trying to empower women, and lots of women aren’t able to follow their dreams, unless their parents are open-minded. ._.
    Negatively portraying it is okay, in my opinion. But the negative aspects of American culture should also be made fun of, and I guess they are already being made fun of. Stereotyping should be stopped, and there should be characters that are completely different from their cultural stereotypes.
    No cuture is perfect. And I think many aspects of American culture are absolutely stupid.

    On a different note, I have no idea why I even bothered to write whatever I wrote above. ._.

    • Atif October 2, 2014 at 9:57 am #

      I meant to write, non-governmental organisations*(NGOs).

  65. Bill November 2, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    You think that’s bad?
    There’s still no regular African American character in this or any other ‘Chuck Lorre’ show.

    It’s like they don’t exist in his world. Where is he from that he can consistently leave out a sizeable percentage of the US population?

  66. proverrance January 19, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

    Reblogged this on proverrance and commented:
    The fun should not be made against the weak.

  67. rhino87 March 21, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

    Omg if ppl are gonna have such a chip on their shoulder soo bad as to pick the bones out of a silly comedy sitcom where they take the mick out of all back grounds thrn how about shows that only feature black ppl but no one says shit bout those yet easily point out on this funny show. Umm white chicks for example: totally ripped white ppl etc but found it hilarious and love the film, didn’t try and turn it out to be some massive racist attack. Ppl just needcto chill out n move on.

  68. Ananya Chatterjee June 26, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

    I am a proud Indian and sometimes I have found these racial comments on TBBT very offensive about our bowel movement and high temperature etc. I just want to say that the foreigners who visit our country India, they always visit the certain places which unclean and crowded. But there are many places where you can see planned cities and painting-like villages in the same country. The foreigners who write the scripts for shows like this, are most welcome to visit the real incredible India.. And because of their ignorance of what our country really is, I ignore the racial comments.they just don’t have the proper information about us, how can they write perfect script?? But on contrary , priya was a charming independent girl and she hid the relationship with leorand not because she is dominated by her parents but because she was ashamed of bring with a White guy. I think that’s racial enough for the white people also.. And I would like to mention how much they make fun of Sheldon’s mother, who is a hard core white lady

  69. adam October 12, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

    *yaaaawn*…. just shut up and enjoy the show…

  70. Ricardus November 6, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

    As a person who goes to Conventions, I have found that in general, half of the con-goers do not like BBT, and half, do. The normal reasons given are that it laughs at geeks, and not with them.

    My friend Paul does not like it at all, but not for reasons of race, he just thinks it’s incredibly stupid and poorly written. But not until last night (11/5/2015) did the show make me uncomfortable. Sheldon was telling a story about his great great great great grandmother’s engagement ring, which had been handed down to him over generations, which he was going to give to Amy. He talked about how the original owner of the ring lost it when Comanches cut off her finger and stole the ring. He then went on to explain that Texas Rangers hunted them down and slaughtered them. I was, and am horrified that Indian genocide can be a punchline.

    Perhaps I am not sensitive to the things that you and others are because I am a white male, and I need to learn more about, and understand more about my privilege.

    As an Aspie I relate to Sheldon a great deal, and do find the show funny, and continue to watch, but will attempt to be more aware of they they are being racist and inappropriate.

  71. Sarthak January 16, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

    Actually, 80% of the american citizen has very low IQ. (Than means you are stupid you americans). And their whole education system is flawed. Consider them as the big stupid bully who tried to over power you in high school and now washes your car, then you will understand why the racist jokes landed on the show.

  72. maynard February 24, 2016 at 1:11 pm #

    Unfunny and unintelligent sitcom, lately I’ve been noticing this show is also racist.

  73. Drake Bradman March 18, 2016 at 8:26 pm #

    Well, this video should make you more red in anger! This is how Sheldon thanks the African American HR officer (Mrs. Davis) after she recommends him for tenure.

  74. LH April 16, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

    I’m an American, been in India for three months now- it’s the most beautiful place with fantastic people. I wish more mainstream American media (shows or news) would depict india for the the culturally rich place that it is as opposed to the stereotypes. (Although I won’t lie- I was getting off the train in Bombay in April, so hot and so many people, and I thought of that raj quote)

  75. psychowordsmith June 9, 2016 at 10:55 am #

    ‘India is “hot, it’s loud, and there are so many people! You have no idea–they’re everywhere!” ‘

    Just went downstairs for a smoke and guess what, it is hot as shit here (35°C), endless honking and yelling and so many people. And this is in Bangalore, New Delhi is even worse.

    But just to be fair I went and checked your about page just to be aware of your context.

    Boy oh boy, a Canadian person telling me that a depiction of a person from my country, also specifically the city I’m from, is racist.

    Lemme tell you a shocking fact: Indians are some of the most racist people I have ever met.

    No joke.

    If you think Raj is a racist stereotype, you should see the kind of racism in Indian media, mostly against non-white foreigners, but so much of it is against other Indians.

    Believe me Raj is one of the better representations we have had in Western media.

    Yes, some of the jokes are kinda uncomfortable, but that’s as far as it goes.

    Not so say there aren’t problems in the show or that I like it, just that Raj is as offensive to Indians as Howard is to Jewish people or the jokes are to people with taste.

    Hell I’m not even the first Indian person to post this reply.

  76. Emperor August 21, 2016 at 11:26 am #

    Racist or not, India is a horrible place to live. Over patriotic Indians will not agree to that. (Even after 130th position in HDI)

  77. Fangio August 25, 2016 at 9:18 pm #

    Just wow. So ridiculous in hindsight.

  78. Zoltan Steinbaecher November 26, 2016 at 7:34 am #

    There are some more questionable points in that series:
    1) Segregation: The absolute absence of any person with black or hispanic or east asian or arab background not only in that bunch of geeks but in the whole story: None of the other scientists at university nor one of the “heroes” familie’s friends nor even Pennie’s guests are other than white.
    2) Opinion./.Facts: Evolution and Big Bang mixed up at the title song – may be funny as long there’s no head of Science and Educational Administration coming up who is creationist. Seeing the 2016 elections it’s not only jokes about nerds…but a stance of: “look what you are going to be like if you start believing in science and facts”. Or, as Sheldon’s mother keeps saying (and praying): “It’s just your opinion”.
    3) Antisemitism (diet-version): Religion isn’t really being mocked – Sheldon’s mother, the overprotective southern evangelical, still gains her points in the arguments with Sheldon and his friends. Raj stands up properly against Sheldon trying to teach him the Cooper’s way to understand Hinduism – only Wolowitz is really lost in his confusion to follow or not follow his mother’s omnipresent voice of orthodox judaism without finding at least some good in it. And as we’re discussing religion:
    4I
    4) Islam is totally absent, nobody ever mentions. Perhaps for better so – what way would they have dealt with, seeing the ethnocentric WASP – approach they find to everything else on the philosophical field. But let me say this: A Sufi friend with doctor’s degree in math and Philosophy would have mixed them up a lot 🙂

  79. Kio January 27, 2017 at 3:05 pm #

    Yes this stupid show is racist but TOWARDS WHITES

  80. Lawrence Owen February 14, 2017 at 2:17 pm #

    I am sorry, but i think many people are missing the point of the racist jokes, (yes they are racist,..no disputing this)…but it is jokes poking fun at racism itself. not to be racist. Everyone in the show is poked fun of by every other person,..even Raj gets a great poke in on the ‘white’ guys when they get high off the ‘cookies’ by poking fun of their accents. The women get poked fun at for being women…men get poked at for being men…the point of the show is to diminish the stereotypes and misogynistic and Masandry, and all other forms of prejudice. It is people whom still cling to the “I take offense to this or that” whom cannot understand this and just want something to complain about. They even made fun of VERY famous people like Steven Hawking, Yet no-where do you hear him bitching about being oppressed. Or LeVar Burton whom has had multiple spots on the show and been part of black racial humor. Or George Takei for being gay It is in the name of humor,…and to lessen the impact of prejudism. If only people would/could understand this. Prejudism in the real world can hurt. In a multitude of ways. But the way BBT does it is to make fun of it directly…not actually performing it. If they were actually performing it, do you believe they would even be able to hire actors to play the parts of those being persecuted?..Especially well respected ones?…I hardly think so.

  81. mike March 17, 2017 at 12:00 am #

    I like to read people’s opinions but keep it short.dam. what button do I push?

    • mike March 17, 2017 at 12:11 am #

      Some black trying to sound smart would screw up the whole show. You know I’m right. The show would suck with some stupid African American making the group seem artificial.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. “Modern Television Racism” or “Dear Kunal Nayyar, please leave The Big Bang Theory” « The Conversation Tree - November 14, 2012

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