January 12, 2014

1/8 Cherokee in New Girl

In the Normal episode of New Girl (airdate: 4/10/12), Jess returns to the apartment after spending time with her boyfriend Russell. Glad to see her roommates, she says:You all look so handsome, so grown up.

Hey Nick, I finally noticed the one-eighth Cherokee.
Making characters a tiny bit Native seems to be a TV trend. Examples include:

Part Cherokee in The Mindy Project
"Navajo" in Happy Endings
1/16 Cherokee in Modern Family

The idea seems to be to give plain white characters some ethnic "flavor." It might be offensive to say they're part black or Asian, but anyone can claim to be part Native.

By doing so, the shows can pat themselves on the back for mentioning Indians while doing nothing to explore modern Indian life. In particular, they don't have to address the vast gulf between the characters' privileged existence and reservation-based poverty.

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