Less than two months after an enormously successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, comedian and former "Daily Show" Correspondent Aasif Mandvi is set to release an all-new web series starring a part of the population that we don't get to see on TV enough: the Muslim-American family.
Based on a 2011 sketch called "The Qu'osby Show" (obviously that name has been changed in the wake of the controversy surrounding the real Bill Cosby), "Halal In The Family" uses an exaggerated sitcom style to poke satirical fun at the racism and prejudice Muslims often experience in the United States and beyond. Mandvi even teamed up with an advisory council of civil rights groups and advocacy organizations, like the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) and South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), to really nail the specific kinds of stereotypes thrown at Muslim people on a daily basis.
The series will premiere this Thursday (April 9) as an exclusive web series on Funny or Die. Here's a sneak peak from the original Indiegogo campaign, in which Aaasif's character helps his teenager daughter overcome cyberbullying.
MTV News spoke with Mandvi about the project and about how diversity in television is starting to change for the better.
MTV News: Why did you choose to create “Halal In The Family” as a web series?
Aasif Mandvi: If you want to create something funny, smart and full of Muslims, you can't wait for TV executives. We wanted to do something that we could create and put out there in a relatively short amount of time and that would get a large reach. There was also something incredibly entrepreneurial about creating a web series and finding the funding ourselves and making it the way we wanted to and to take on issues in the way we wanted to and I think we have done that. We have created something that is not only funny but also has a strong message against intolerance and fear mongering, and racism.
MTV: Other than the obvious title change, how is this series changing and expanding upon the original “Qu’osby Show” sketch?
Mandvi: Well, the original sketch was just a sketch, in this series we are using the Qu'osby Family as a tool through which to address larger social and political issues.
MTV: You’ve been open about the fact that members of your family are more observant Muslims than you are. What do they think of this project?
Mandvi: Some members of my family are quite religious Muslims, others are atheists, others are gay and one is a Christian, but I think they all see the larger picture of what we are trying to do here and are incredibly supportive.
MTV: How has the response from the Internet been so far?
Mandvi: Very positive.
MTV: If the series does well enough when it premieres, will you try to do more episodes?
Mandvi: That’s the idea, yes.
MTV: There’s been a lot of discussion about diversity in television lately in the wake of shows like “Fresh Off The Boat,” “Blackish,” and “Empire.” Do you feel like the landscape really is changing for the better?
Mandvi: I hope it is. Look, in about twenty five years or so, white people will be the minority in America for the first time in its history, and along with that will change our images of beauty and success and diversity.