- How, in 2012, is Citizen Khan the BBC's first British-Asian sitcom? So asked the Guardian in its preview of the show:
- It’s a good question. Maybe no one’s been brave enough. Some of the reaction on Twitter was perhaps predictable, but will nevertheless make difficult reading for the show’s writers.
- Are they? If you didn't watch it, here's the BBC’s trailer for the show.
- The first part of that clip rang bells, as I’ve had pretty much the same conversation with my wife. Given an ex-colleague of mine, who was of Pakistani origin, once forgot my name and apologised by saying, “Sorry, you white folk all look the same to me,” you can guess I don't hail from Islamabad.
So some of the humour is clearly universal, and - talking of universality - it would be nice to think that most viewers are intelligent enough to realise the truth of the following tweet:
- So is it really racist? Arifa Akbar, writing in the Independent, thought it “lazy and outdated” – but not racist. “While I’m not convinced it is racist comedy, I am convinced it is stuck in the past. The script is rehashed, the characters are rehashed, even the canned laughter sounds like it’s out of the ‘70s.”
- And here’s Mark Lawson in the Guardian – key quote: “My own cultural outsider's view is that Citizen Khan pays British Muslims perhaps the highest compliment television can bestow, which is treating them like any other creed and people by subjecting them to a gentle domestic sitcom in the tradition of My Family.”
- So his conclusion is also that it's not racist; it's just not very funny. Back on Twitter, the show did have its supporters.
- One tweeter went as far as to suggest the reaction to the show sums up what it means to be Asian in Britain in 2012.
- There is general agreement that Citizen Khan can’t hold a candle to Goodness Gracious Me.