Once again, I feel a little guilty about revelling in people’s redundancies… but a petty little part of me couldn’t help cheering when I read that the sitcom Dads had been cancelled. Of course, many haters were calling for it to be canned before Fox had even aired the first episode, due to its proudly regressive content… such as a sub-plot in the pilot which saw Brenda Song’s character agreeing to dress-up in a “Sexy Japanese Schoolgirl” outfit, in order to help her white male bosses seal a business deal with a bunch of Chinese suits… which was offensive on a number of levels, both racist and sexist. [For other examples, check out this more exhaustive analysis from Entertainment Weekly].
Sadly, one joke from the pilot has stuck with me for months, like a pesky little pebble in the my mind-shoe: One of the fathers was trying to warn his son that the Chinese simply couldn’t be trusted, and ended his sad little rant with the rhetorical punchline “There’s a reason Shanghai’s a verb!” This prompted me to look the word up on Wikipedia, and discover that it actually refers to the practice of American boarding masters using “coercive techniques such as trickery, intimidation, or violence” to recruit American sailors to serve aboard American merchant vessels, for which the eponymous Chinese city was a common destination… so, the exact opposite of what the obnoxious old man was saying, in fact! Feh!