Tom Haverford

I have a slight obsession with the show Parks and Rec, and one of my favorite characters is Tom Haverford, played by Aziz Ansari. To give you some background, Parks and Rec follows a government office and it’s employees. Tom is an administrative assistant in the office who was born in the United States but whose heritage is Indian.

When examining the way that marginalized groups are represented on television, Toms character would follow the pattern of rejection. Tom never mentions anything about his Indian hertitage. He also tries to assimilate into multiple aspects of American culture. Tom is a part club owner, is completely wrapped up in American consumerism, loves hip hop, always thinking of “get rich quick” schemes, etc.

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Toms character also does not fit any stereotypes traditionally associated with Indian Americans. Most characters of this ethnicity are represented as intelligent, driven, and are often IT personnel. Tom, on the other hand, has a dead end government job, is incredibly lazy, and seems to be fairly unintelligent.

I would not say this show is respectful of the Indian culture because it is barely mentioned, and when it is, it is made to be a joke. The only time Tom mentions his heritage is in phrases like “I was just a dorky Indian kid” in regards to his childhood.

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