Tituss Burgess stopped by HuffPost Live to promote his series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and to answer questions about the show. In between discussing his vocal range and the diversity issues in Hollywood, he took a moment to answer a question that's been on a lot of people's minds: Is the series racist?
Citing opinions expressed by viewers of the show, including an article on BuzzFeed about the show's disrespectful portrayal of Asian and Native American characters, the interviewer asks Burgess whether he thinks the show does, in fact have a race problem — falling back into racial stereotypes just for cheap laughs.
Burgess doesn't think so. In fact, he believes the whole controversy is ridiculous and dreamed up by people who are watching the show to get offended and pick it apart. And while he certainly can't speak for everyone or talk away the offense that some people have taken at the tropes on the show, he does say something important: That what the show is doing is satirizing stereotypes and breaking them.
From the interview:
Viewers who watch from start to finish will see "all of these storylines come back around and make a delicious point," he said, invoking how Kimmy's love interest, Dong (played by Korean-American actor Ki Hong Lee) flips expected stereotypes.
"Kimmy doesn't choose the white man, she chooses Dong," he said, defying "the bizarre stereotype that white women don't like Asian men."
"I just find it hilarious that people are trying to arrest us for doing the opposite of what everyone thinks we're doing," he concluded.
Regardless of intent, it makes sense why some would be upset by the portrayal of Native Americans and Asians on the show (although Dong's joke about Kimmy's name meaning penis is funny!), but Burgess also has a good point. The show is meant to subvert stereotypes and parody the expectations the viewer might have. Does it succeed? Burgess says yes, but he's going to have to let the viewer be the judge of that.
Image via Netflix