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.
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 clichÃ©.
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.