West Wing Desi Love

I just finished watching tonight’s episode of the West Wing on NBC. Maybe it is John Wells (the producer of ER and The West Wing), or maybe NBC has simply discovered the Desi market in the U.S., b/c this episode of The West Wing featured who I thought was Pragna Desai (she starred in ER’s episodes based in the Congo and The Ben Affleck flop The Sum of All Fears) as Leo McGarry’s nurse.

In the episode, Leo has lost his appetite, and Desai, as his nurse–ok, so we still only play health care professionals (but it is a start!)–uses Indian food and her good looks to charm McGarry into eating.

Is a South Asian woman, dressed in her wedding best and bearing Indian food better than certain illicit substances at giving people the munchies?

Also interesting was some of the dialogue between Desai and McGarry. In the episode, McGarry was considering joining the board of some sort of corporate chemical company. The company seemed quite similar to Union Carbide, because at one point McGarry asked Desai if she was from Haryana, and that that the company was trying to make up for all of the damage it had done there in 1986. Perhaps this was a reference to the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal in 1984, and the upcoming 20th anniversary of this tragedy on December 3. The issue of a name-change was also discussed, a la Union Carbide to Dow Chemicals.

5 thoughts on “West Wing Desi Love

  1. I saw the episode as well. What annoyed me though was that he clearly calls her Ms. Chakrabarti and then it turns out that she’s from Punjab. Now maybe she’s a Punjabi married to a Bengali, but then why on earth does she call Punjab “the Punjab”. Does anyone except old Brit geezers call Punjab ‘the Punjab’ ?

  2. Yeah, I feel you Suresh. I was annoyed at “the punjab.” It is like saying, “the Pennsylvania,” but for some reason people have some need to use the before Punjab. Maybe The West Wing needs to get some desi writers.

  3. I saw the episode too yesterday and got into an argument with my roommate about whether she was desi or not.. He thought she was too goodlooking to be one…

    And last week on Law and Order CI, there was another desi character .. a RA (what else !!) called Satish working in the astrophysics department of some ficticious university .. but that show has a lot of desis characters.. must have something to do with the fact that one of the Law and Order series is Stephanie Sengupta.

  4. Stephanie Sengupta is Born of an Indian Father (emigrated to USA from Calcutta) and American Mother. She is born in the US and has visited India only three times mainly to Calcutta