ABC’s “Notes From the Underbelly” (and kannu candy)

he even makes facial fur look good.jpg Last year, a wee little show called “Notes From the Underbelly” debuted on ABC and we ignored it, despite tenacious reminders of its existence on our news tab. Our bad.

No, seriously.

The brown angle to that repeatedly neglected news story turned out to be the HOT angle; NftU stars one Sunkrish Bala, i.e. the gorgeousness gazing at you over on the right. Bala plays the part of “Eric” and one of the most interesting things about this program is how there is no mention of his ethnicity; for once someone brown gets to play someone “normal” (for lack of a better word), who isn’t a terrorist or other H-town stereotype.

Eric may not be the manliest of men, but he’s the perfect man for Julie. Even though he almost missed the birth of his son, Eric is an utterly devoted husband and father. He has an incredibly lucrative career, though no one knows exactly what he does. Always cheerful, Eric deftly balances a demanding job with an even more demanding wife. [ABC]

I know what you’re thinking– now there are two FOUR beeyootiful desi guys on network television? YES. It’s not a cruel joke. There is even more male to objectify, my sisters and brothers-who-swing-that-way! I’m making my preference known now; start printing Team Sunkrish tee-shirts because I’m not only the client, I’m about to be the fangirl-president.

What am I trash-talking about? Well, while many of you ruined Victoria’s Secrets over that Sendhil guy on Heroes whom I have no use for, I caught the last few episodes of this cute, quirky show which features the hottest South Indian male I have ever salivated over. Mmmm, Sunkrish. If this book’s cover doesn’t do enough for you, his inner sweetness should; Sunkrish was part of the Help Vinay effort, which is how I was able to speak to him and delightfully discover that he’s down to earth, kind and really funny. For the 2,359 of you from Northern California who will recognize it, he’s an alum of Bellarmine College Prep. :)

Though I rep Kerala shamelessly (and probably inaccurately), I’m totally willing to sell out my coconut-eating counterparts and say that Tamizhhrrrzzl men are teh hawt. Now if only Sunkrish weren’t 16, I could feel less like a filthy pervert and actually daydream of a future where I am Mrs. Bala, not that I’m doodling that on my notebook in meetings these days or anything. ;)

The season premiere of Notes From the Underbelly is TONIGHT at 9:30 on your local ABC affiliate. Tune in and drool for yourself. :)

p.s. I’m not the only one who digs “Notes”. Salon’s TV belle Heather Havrilesky had this to say, yesterday:

…it’s easy to forget how enjoyable family life can be. Sadly, it’s also easy to forget this when you’re about to have kids and you’re filled with apprehension over what having a family will do to your identity and your social life. (Let’s make it quick and painless for you: It’ll destroy both.) This is where the married couple at the center of “Notes From the Underbelly” find themselves. (The second season premieres 9:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26, on ABC.)
Like families themselves, “Notes From the Underbelly” looks big and corny and willfully dorky from the outside looking in. If you’ve never had a kid, jokes about breast pumps and Boppies and French baby nurses with the perfect swaddling technique all sound pedestrian, if not mildly chafing. “Who are these awful yuppies and why must we hear about their bourgeois troubles?” you might wonder, twisting your dexterous young fingers through your long, glossy hair.
And granted, the characters here, like so many on TV these days, are upper-middle-class urbanites: Lauren (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Andrew (Peter Cambor) live in a big, spotless house, they take yoga and sushi-making classes, they sip enormous cocktails and whine about stuff that’s such a hassle, like breathing. Even so, “Notes From the Underbelly” does a nice job of skewering the cluelessness of first-time parents while having fun with the ever-widening culture gap between parents and nonparents.
Rachel Harris in particular is fantastic as Lauren’s friend, Cooper, who becomes visibly disgusted anytime the dull concerns of child rearing enter the picture. She’s the perfect foil for this show: the self-obsessed go-getter who couldn’t care less about kids, who’s constantly grossed out by pregnancy, parents and pretty much every single aspect of domestic life.
Peter Cambor has really grown on me as the beleaguered husband — sure, he’s got the usual TV husband’s (and real-world husband’s) fear of standing up to his wife’s bossiness, but Cambor is a departure from the jolly, easygoing oaf you’d usually find in this role. He’s a little nerdy, with pockets of unexpected neuroticism that you don’t often see in male sitcom characters. In the second episode of the new season, when Cooper is telling Lauren and Andrew about trouble she’s having with a co-worker, Andrew gets snagged on an unimportant detail along the way:
Cooper: She’s always trying to one-up me. It’s like I’m the original Terminator, and she’s the more advanced model in the sequel who could turn himself into metal.
Andrew: (Thinking, in a voice-over) Don’t correct her! Don’t correct her!
Andrew: Actually, the T-1000 was a cyborg made of liquid metal that could assume the shape and density of solid objects.
The women react by staring blankly at him, and Andrew looks like he regrets opening his mouth. This isn’t really a story line — in a lesser sitcom, it would be. Instead, it’s just a running joke, and gender-difference gags like this are sprinkled throughout each episode. Even though this kind of material has been done to death, Andrew’s obsession with movie trivia is reasonably original — OK, to be fair, it conjures up hints of Ross, David Schwimmer’s character on “Friends.” Even so, it’s the kind of character quirk that separates an engaging sitcom character from a flat cliché.
At the end of the episode, Lauren says, “I’m so glad our will is taken care of!” and Andrew responds cheerfully, “Yeah, now we can go ahead and die without getting all stressed out about it!”
Obviously this show is aimed at the 30-something child-rearing demographic, but even if that’s not you, “Notes From the Underbelly” is like having a charming but disheveled family next door, one that makes having a family seem terrifying and awful but funny — which is closer to the truth than most of us would like. [Salon]

I only hope that Sunkrish gets more screen time this season; last year, he was the least prominent character (figures), and my eyes, er, I mean we were all poorer for it.

79 thoughts on “ABC’s “Notes From the Underbelly” (and kannu candy)

  1. ok, tamil. sorry.

    Yeah, I like to mock the ridiculous spelling, which shows that I’m not entirely enslaved by my adoration of Tamizzhl boys. ;)

    IP = New York, I think. :D

  2. well, a web search suggests that a person with that names lives in VA, CA, TX, etc., but not new york or any of the nearby states. perhaps he moved to new york and it doesn’t show up in the records yet.

  3. mad cute. unfortunately i don’t watch tv anymore, so i’ll just admire from afar. & i think you’re forgetting about naveen andrews and now kal penn (according to many fangirls and fanboys) when you mention only “two beeyootiful desi guys on network television.” :)

  4. i think you’re forgetting about naveen andrews and now kal penn (according to many fangirls and fanboys) when you mention only “two beeyootiful desi guys on network television.” :)

    I was so blinded by SB’s beeyooty, I forgot. ;) Will amend shortly, though they pale in comparison to my Sunkrish, the way Starbucks Chai pales in comparison to my Ma’s perfect brew. Oh yeah. I just went there. :D

  5. Just four desi guys? If Kal Penn qualifies, then surely Adhir Kalyan would also? Plus there’s also Kunal Nayyar from The Big Bang Theory. Sure, it’s mauled by critics and many audiences alike, but it’s still a show with a desi guy in the regular cast. ;)

  6. Seriously I am not hating, but this guy is considered “hot”?

    But he is a nice guy for working on bone marrow awareness.

    On the other hand he is in entertainment, so I will without shame say that there is no way he can be considered the hottest Indian in America.

    Welcome to Hollywood. Your actions mean nothing. MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  7. I’m totally willing to sell out my coconut-eating counterparts and say that Tamizhhrrrzzl men are teh hawt

    Thanks Anna for your effort to popularize the hotness we, Tamzhil boys, had for centuries (?!!)..hehe…

    FYI…tamzhil boys have strong affinity for Kerala cuties/kutties. Good luck ;)

    Bala machi, kalakku!!! It seems you have a good support to start with…Superstar of Hollywood/TV someday…. what do you say?

  8. I’ll root for him when he embraces back hair.
    Mate, you do need a root ;)

    urrghh.. In case it sounds like I am saying anything remotely ‘cool’, I am not. please be kind to your pendoo S.Q.U.A.R.E. big brother and smack him so he quits embarassing himself in public. rooting…!#$&@ who’dathunk?

  9. rooting…!#$&@ who’dathunk?

    Glad you took in the right spirit. Root is one something that cant be passed up ;)

  10. Don’t know if they’re considered mainstream enough for our listing of Desi dudes on TV, but what about Aziz Ansari (from MTV’s “Human Giant”) and Arj Barker (from HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords”)? The latter even speaks Hindi on air. I know, right?

  11. there are so many things in the world to blog about? why do u end up with a post like this?

  12. You are right, there are so many things in the world to blog about. Apparently, you missed the posts I wrote about the riots over STs in Assam AND the emergency in Pakistan; they are the next two posts on this blog.

    I write about everything. If it bores you, move on instead of eating my dimagh with inane and in this case, baseless commentary.

  13. I write about everything. If it bores you, move on instead of eating my dimagh with inane and in this case, baseless commentary

    LOL@dimagh. You meant dimak(mind), right Anna?

  14. Bala machi, kalakku!!!

    i second that :)

    I’m totally willing to sell out my coconut-eating counterparts and say that Tamizhhrrrzzl men are teh hawt

    moustaches and all, ANNA? though i’m glad sunkrish is sticking to his tamil roots by exhibiting some facial hair ;)

  15. LOL@dimagh. You meant dimak(mind), right Anna?

    not to get all pedantic y’know but Anna was closer. dimak is termites which of course would be appropriate if we’re arguing about Anna’s avaricious aardvark angrily assaulting arthropods

  16. I saw a few ads for this show and wondered if the guy was brown. I don’t find him particularly attractive but his Shaadi.com look isn’t bad:

    http://www.imdb.com/gallery/ss/0801428/Ss/0801428/516_pre.jpg.html?path=pgallery&path_key=Bala,%20Sunkrish

    More than anything, I’m pleased to hear that no mention of his ethnicity is made in the show. But if he’s really only about 23, I have a hard time envisioning him as a husband and a father with 30 being the new 20 and all.

    Clue me in – what’s the “H-town stereotype?”

  17. Clue me in – what’s the “H-town stereotype?”

    Well I think we’ve posted about it before…how brown actors tend to get slotted in to a few little niches: terrorist, cab driver, liquor store owner, random beard-free guy in turban etc. I always thought it totally bizarre that they didn’t use another stereotype when casting shows like ER; how many years did it take before we got Parminder Nagra?!

    One of the reasons I heart SB is because his range is great. :) I didn’t realize he was that young, when I first started watching. Then looked him up and I was shocked at his age! A lot of brown people are baby-faced, last night when I was watching, I reconfirmed what I thought last season– that he didn’t strike me as sticking out like a sore young thumb. ;)

  18. Ah, here we go:

    Also from Wedding Crashers, actor Neil Patil’s resume shows Hollywood offers desis lots of ground-breaking, non-stereotypical roles without accents:
      Terrorist
      Cabbie
      Limo driver
      Valet
      Indian wedding groom
      Exchange student
      Waiter
    So here we’ve got Hollywood’s gender-specific treatment of desis neatly encapsulated in a single movie. Desi women are cast as random babes, men as servants and terrorists. It’s tribal: kill the men, fuck the women. About the only role I remember where the desi guy was neither mocked nor feared was Kal Penn’s in the little-seen A Lot Like Love. [sm]
  19. A good looking guy, no doubt. But is he really defying any stereotypes? From the show’s website that you linked:

    Eric may not be the manliest of men, but he’s the perfect man for Julie. Even though he almost missed the birth of his son, Eric is an utterly devoted husband and father. He has an incredibly lucrative career, though no one knows exactly what he does. Always cheerful, Eric deftly balances a demanding job with an even more demanding wife.

    “Not the manliest of men”- sounds about right for the typical desi cast member.

    Also, what is “Tamizh”? Do you mean Tamil?

  20. FYI they did mention his ethnicity in one episode but it was done in a funny way and I like that in general it is not the focus of his character’s story. The one episode where his ethnicity was mentioned was before he and Julie had their baby and they ordered a doll from the internet to “practice” on (waking up in the middle of the night to feed it, etc – they are the type A couple) and ordered an “Indian” doll so it would look like what they thought their baby would look like, but got a Native American doll with a feather, etc. I’m glad it came up once but not in any other episodes – seems realistic of most people’s lives.

  21. HE’s SIXTEEN?!?

    No, I was joking. :) I’m almost 33 (one more month), so as far as I’m concerned, he might as well be a teen. I think he graduated from UCLA last year, so he’s in his early 20s. If I had been a precocious tween, he could be my kid. ;)

    “Not the manliest of men”- sounds about right for the typical desi cast member.

    That’s a bit out of context, though I don’t blame anyone for taking it that way– last night’s entire episode was about the main male character not being “assertive” enough, so it’s not like they’re isolating the character of Eric out for some insult. Also, he’s not the “desi cast member” except where we’re concerned. His character is not desi.

    Also, what is “Tamizh”? Do you mean Tamil?

    Yes, I do mean “Tamil” and I was joking. :) That’s allowed here. I actually have been typing “Tami-” + random combinations of “Z”, “H”, “R” and “L” ever since some Tamil commenters spelled it differently on some now forgotten thread. I’ve done it a few times on SM so it’s turning in to a running joke, just like “quondam” and “apposite”.

  22. HE’s SIXTEEN?!? there goes that fantasy…

    I think you mean, “there goes that potential jail-time”

    The young lad must acquire perpetually blood-shot eyes, a pleasingly round paunch, demand on-screen romantic pairings with women half his age/100 Yojanas out of his league and a signature move (preferably involving flying cigarettes and/or chest pounding and then pointing) before he can be truly considered a Tamizh heart-throb.

  23. and a signature move (preferably involving flying cigarettes and/or chest pounding and then pointing)

    while pointing at the camera and yelling, “Mind it!”

    another possibility is twirling his mustache.

  24. Anna, Thanks for creating a ray of sunlight in my otherwise drab and boring day! I can’t believe I totally missed this one. You must keep updating on these hot desi men on television! I was actually at a SAALT event the other night, co-hosted by none other than Maulik Pancholy, one of the actors on 30 rock. Another one to keep your eyes on =)

    And as for the comment about so many things to blog about, I think this site does an excellent job in blogging about anything and everything. And I think once in a while we all need one like this one to add fun to the day.

  25. co-hosted by none other than Maulik Pancholy, one of the actors on 30 rock. Another one to keep your eyes on =)

    love him. even more so in his character on weeds :)

    part of me REALLY wants to be a mustache twirling bad-guy

    please to complete the look with gold chains nestled in a forest of curly chest hair, displayed to its maximum by a deeply-unbuttoned shirt ;)

  26. please to complete the look with gold chains nestled in a forest of curly chest hair, displayed to its maximum by a deeply-unbuttoned shirt ;)

    light blue polyester liesure suit, baby! nuthin but the best…

  27. Going slightly off topic, how many desi females are there in Hollywood? The only one I can think of is Mindy Kaling from The Office.

  28. Going slightly off topic, how many desi females are there in Hollywood? The only one I can think of is Mindy Kaling from The Office.

    wasnt there some desi chick in one of those silly college movies. played the h*t ditsy grl that looked ready to f-ck. also there was a grl in that sports movie parody spoofing bend it like bekham.

  29. p.s. I think he looks better with facial hair. And also, I think I read on wikipedia that he was born in 1984.

  30. p.s. I think he looks better with facial hair. And also, I think I read on wikipedia that he was born in 1984.

    geez…i used to be too geeky. now that im reasonably well adjusted, im too old! 1984? i remember 1984!

  31. Anna, Thanks for creating a ray of sunlight in my otherwise drab and boring day!

    Sabrin, what a sweet comment. Talk about a ray of sunlight on a drab day. :) Thank you.

    Going slightly off topic, how many desi females are there in Hollywood? The only one I can think of is Mindy Kaling from The Office.

    Why don’t we make a list of CURRENT brownies on TV, i.e. who’s starring in this season’s shows…hmmm, I smell a post coming on…

    played the h*t ditsy grl that looked ready to f-ck.

    Shame shame, puppy! Shame shame! Such language. Such stereotyping! Also, what characterizes this evocative “ready to fornicate” look to which you allude? ;)

    p.s. I think he looks better with facial hair. And also, I think I read on wikipedia that he was born in 1984.

    I hate goatees, soul patches and George Michael-esque stubble on guys, which indicated to me that SB is HAWT, since he’s the first boy I’ve seen who is rocking any of the above, who looks goooood doing it. ;)

    See? TOLD you he was a baby. I was nine in 1984! :)

  32. I remember him from a few years ago when he was on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (one of Meredith’s many hookups, who showed up at the hospital with a pesky erection that wouldn’t go away!) Is it just me or was he considerably darker then than in that pic? I probably shouldn’t pass judgement, it could just be the way the pic turned out. Either way he is HOTTTT.