Never Have I Ever… Been an Outsider

Imagine a girl from India sitting on the couch, with a bowl of popcorn, ready to watch a movie. She is with all her friends who are American, British, or western, and they are all talking about how they look like a character, or relate to something in the movie. And then there she is, sitting trying to find something about herself that is at all in relation to the characters in the movie. While growing up, I struggled to find characters in movies or TV shows that had any sort of resemblance to me, and usually the beauty standard was set by someone who did not look at all like me, and I am sure a lot of people from the Asian community can relate. This is why the representation of Asians in the film industry is so important.


There are so many reasons why having Asian characters in film will benefit society, and as I said before, it gives everyone watching someone to look up to, or admire. It gives people a sense of belonging, and that their role in society is just as important as any other person. Instead of trying to conform to a certain stereotype or another cultural norm, instead you can find pride in your own culture, and think of that as your norm. The most crucial part is to have someone who is not just part of the stereotypes of their culture, but rather embraces it and is treated just as any other character who may not be Asian. This is important as it informs ‘minorities’ that their culture is more than just a stereotype, and that in fact they are valuable and shown in the movies. However there are many shows that in fact indulge in the stereotypes of a culture, like in Never Have I Ever. The main character Devi seems to be quite embarrassed of her Indian heritage, and has all the basic stereotypes of an Indian like a strict parent and the obsessive need to get good grades.


Another positive aspect of having Asians in film is that the newer generation will start to normalise seeing Asians in everyday situations and make them seem more a part of the community. Most western movies will only have people that are seen in their society, and then when an Asian is seen, that is not necessarily normal, and can be slightly new. By making there be multiple Asian characters, this will normalise seeing these people in society, and they will be treated as equals.


Over the years we have seen culture be shown throughout films and shows. In fact, the need for diversity started all the way back when Aladdin and Jasmine were characters, first introducing the idea of a not-western princess and prince. That movie opened up a ‘whole new world’ of ideas and encouraged representation. Since then, there have been so many movies such as Crazy Rich Asians, Never Have I Ever,To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Karate Kid and many more. But the main thing is to have Asian characters that are treated just as all the other characters are. Like in Bridgerton, when a pair of sisters were of South Asian descent, but embraced their culture and had all the same aspects of a normal character.


Ever since I was small, I have been longing to find someone who is like me in the movie, and finally seeing these aspects and normalising Asians is coming into play. I truly believe that it will help society be more inclusive, since film has such a large impact in the way society is perceived.