“It’s like they Googled every Chinese stereotype”
CBBC has been slammed for a ‘racist’ children’s Chinese sitcom.
As reported by Broadcast Now, CBBC is under fire after signing a “racist” Chinese sitcom titled Living With The Lams.
CBBC is a television channel owned by the BBC that airs content for children aged 6 to 12.
The 10-part sitcom revolves around a Chinese family and their restaurant in Manchester. However, the show has been criticised for having predominantly white writers and perpetuating “regressively radicalised” stereotypes.
“It’s like they Googled every Chinese stereotype,” one writer critiqued.
Additionally, East Asian writers who were paid a lower wage were told to “buddy up” with non-East Asian writers in an attempt to avoid cultural insensitivity.
Over 50 British East Asian creatives have signed an open letter to CBBC controller Cheryl Taylor, senior commissioning editor Melissa Hardinge and Twenty Twenty producer Helen Soden to scrap the series. Game Of Thrones actress Jessica Henwick and comedian Phil Wang are among the signees.
The letter argues that the sitcom “perpetuates orientalist and regressively racialized tropes” and describes the ‘buddy up’ system as “patronising and a colonial mindset that needs to be dismantled”.
CBBC had reportedly hired Chinese-Irish producer Raymond Lau for the show’s authenticity. However, Lam but was unable to secure 50% British East Asian representation on the writing team because he reportedly could not find experienced British East Asian children’s writers.
In the letter, the signees do not accept this excuse, stating it “implies that experience of what it is to be East Asian can be learned by a non-East Asian writer – but a British East Asian writer would struggle to learn how to write a CBBC half-hour.”
The full letter can be found here.
In response to the letter, a BBC spokeswoman said: “We’re really proud of our track record in making diverse and culturally relevant output for our young audience. We believe they deserve the best, which is why we work hard to find the most talented writers and producers to create the most entertaining and engaging shows.
“We always seek guidance, advice and expert input for culturally sensitive content. We’re still in the development stages of Living with the Lams and so the editorial process is ongoing. We do not appoint comedy writers or producers based solely on their cultural affiliations or nationality but we’re confident that we’ll create a show that successfully reflects and celebrates this community.”
A Twenty Twenty spokesman said: ”Living With The Lams is still in the development phase of production, bringing the series to this point has taken several years and is ongoing. There are factual inaccuracies in the letter distributed which do not accurately reflect key parts of the ongoing development process.
”The production team continue to work to ensure we have the very best team of talented story tellers in place to make sure Living with the Lams is an entertaining and culturally relevant series created by a decidedly strong and principled creative team.”