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Welcome To Chippendales’ Robert Siegel And Murray Bartlett Speak Up On How The Series Breaks Stereotypes

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When it comes to minority representation, Welcome to Chippendales is a game changer. Along with “Ms. Marvel, it’s one of two American shows set to debut in 2022 starring someone who was born in Pakistan (although Banerjee himself was from India). Still, Steve Banerjee’s story could easily fall into the “exemplary minority” trap.

The early part of the story follows the familiar beats of the “hardworking immigrant”. Banerjee moves to the USA with little money. His first entrepreneurial attempts, a mobile station and a backgammon club, both fail. But with a unique vision, an unwavering belief in himself, and a lot of hard work, Steve is building Chippendales into a multi-million dollar business. From a certain perspective, this could easily feel like a serious celebration of the American dream.

The rest of the story undoes all of that. “He does bad things,” Siegel explained to Vanity Fair. “You could say, ‘Well, that’s a negative portrayal of an Indian,’ but you could also choose to view it as subverting the stereotype of the exemplary minority.”

Steve Banerjee is certainly a seminal figure for American television, but so is the Indian media. “[Steve Banerjee] is unlike any other real-world Bengali icon that has inspired biopics or stage productions,” Priyanka Dasgupta wrote in the Times of India in 2016 while discussing a documentary on Banerjee’s diet of biopics based on the lives of freedom fighters, writers, directors and revolutionary leaders.”



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