CNN — “Schitt’s Creek” emerged from 2020 as one of many yr’s most beloved and critically acclaimed sitcoms. However one character, a South Asian man, gave viewers pause.
Followers of the present have taken concern with “Schitt’s Creek” resident Ray Butani, an eccentric businessman who runs an actual estate-travel-photography enterprise. Butani, one of many few non-White characters on the present, speaks with an accent and, in response to some viewers, performs into stereotypes of South Asian males.
However the Indian-Canadian actor who performs Ray, Rizwan Manji, mentioned in an interview with the Toronto Star that he got here up with the character’s accent on his personal, and he did not suppose his characterization was offensive.
“It’s a very slight Indian accent — anyone who was in all probability raised in Canada, however in all probability was born in India or Pakistan,” he instructed the paper. “I do not remorse that as a result of I feel it truly works for Ray. He wasn’t like everyone else in that city. He was from someplace else.”
When he was solid in “Schitt’s Creek,” Manji mentioned, producers gave him free rein to develop Ray — there was no path on if he had an accent. At a desk learn, he tried out an accent much like one he’d carried out in a earlier position. Dan Levy, the present’s star and co-creator, accredited, Manji mentioned.
Manji mentioned he is averted taking offensive elements, although at first of his profession, these are almost all he was supplied. He’d solely get presents for characters like cab drivers or comfort retailer staff, and he was at all times requested to play them with a thick accent, he instructed the Star.
“It was very strictly, like, the joke was on the accent,” Manji mentioned.
Manji mentioned that whereas round 60% of his roles have concerned utilizing accents, he solely employs them when he feels they’re essential to the character.
Some critics instructed the Star that they felt that Manji’s characterization was nonetheless taking part in into the expectations of White audiences and showrunners. For a present that prides itself on inclusivity — Levy’s character is in a relationship with a person for a lot of the collection and marries him within the finale — the position of Ray felt like a slight.
In an announcement to the Star, Levy praised Manji’s portrayal of Ray and the alternatives Manji made, which Levy emphasised weren’t requested of him by producers.
“All characters on our present have been created with love, respect and humanity,” Levy mentioned. “It has been gratifying to have these intentions mirrored by means of the overwhelming viewers assist for these characters. That mentioned, I welcome any views that encourage conversations about range, particularly in leisure.”
“Schitt’s Creek” gained 9 Emmys in 2020, which Levy and different solid members, together with Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, accepted at a socially distanced viewing celebration in Toronto. Manji, who’s primarily based in Los Angeles, cheered them on just about.