This Week in #POCtv: Quantico
ABC confuses Priyanka Chopra with another Indian actress
Oh, you know I've been waiting for something like this. Priyanka Chopra, go on and get yours
I'm really digging the WOC cast of Quantico. Judging by the pilot, I'm guessing that for brown folks, this is going to be one of the big ones to watch. Chopra, a Bollywood goddess in her own right, is a comfortable and confident as the lead, and she actually has an interesting storyline.
Chopra stars as Alex Parrish, a federal agent-in-training who harbors the secret of having killed her abusive father in defense of her mother (she plays a mixie: white father, brown mother). The pilot flashes back and forth between the time Alex spent at Quantico and the aftermath of a massive terrorist attack.
Apparently, one of Alex's fellow trainees has infiltrated the FBI, and over the course of this season (hopefully it doesn't take the whole series), we're going to find out whodunnit. But in the meantime, the Feds either can't figure out who did or don't want to hold the right person accountable, so the end of the episode shows Alex being blamed.
Enter Miranda Shaw.
Forty-six-year-old actress Aunjanue Ellis portrays Miranda Shaw, Alex's director of training. Shaw is tasked with finding out which one of her trainees is the sleeper agent. She already knows it's not Alex, so when the FBI decide to pin the attack on Alex, Shaw busts her student of custody and sends on her the run, reminding Alex to comb her memories and figure out which one of her classmates was the terrorist.
Shaw is also the ex of a white dude on the show; it's brought up a few times and I rolled my eyes each and every time. Like, we get it already. According to White TV World, if you're going to pair brown women up, pair them up with a white dude onscreen if they're young, or make them some white guy's ex if they're older.
Palestinian actress Yasmine al Massri gets two pictures because somehow, unbeknownst to the FBI, her character and her character's twin sister are taking turns playing the bad-ass, no-fucks-given Nimah Amin, one of Alex's fellow trainees. And they're pulling it off at Quantico. The way al Massri just lounges back in a chair, smoothly rocking a hijab and giving a death stare which just dares anyone to say something...*shivers*. Not to mention, I'm thrilled to have an unapologetic Muslim character delivering deadpan snark and cynicism. In one of the earliest scenes, the students are whispering during Miranda Shaw's welcome speech. Blonde Girl remarks that Shaw seems "warm", which insinuates that she's seeing Shaw through Mammy Goggles. Nimah promptly disagrees, pointing out that Shaw can't be warm, like...for obvious reasons.
So while I'm rooting for Alex and I love that Director's willing to break a bitch outta jail...Nimah is totally my favorite bae on the show.
The show has potential, but it needs more brown people, namely another sista who's not playing the matronly mentor role. Also...I'm not digging the whole we-can-only-have-a-WOC-lead-if-she's-paired-with-a-mediocre-white-dude trope. First off, not all of us brown girls dream about hooking a white lover, male or female. The majority of us are not dropping our panties on sight for them (per the pilot), and it's really irritating how a show about an empowering brown-skinned lead quickly devolves to white fantasy.