When my next-door neighbors decided to throw a raucous party this past Friday night that included (terrible) karaoke versions of N’SYNC, Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, I went to Twitter for some relief. While scrolling down the page, I noticed the television show ‘Glee,’ was among the top ‘Trending Topics’ on Twitter. I’d heard much about Glee, which features Matthew Morrison as Will Schuester, a Spanish teacher at McKinley High School in Limo, Ohio who coaches a bunch of misfits as the director of the school’s glee club. Now’s a better time than any to start watching a new show that’s all about singing, I thought to myself as the neighbors burst forth into a fresh rendition of Jay Sean’s Down (That they precluded by saying “Oh man, I didn’t know that dude was Indian.”)
Ever since Glee came out on Sept. 9, my friends have been obsessed with it. I’d resisted till Saturday, because who really wants to see another High School Musical except for my tween cousins? (I didn’t mention I spent the better part of high school singing acapella, did I?) Much to my surprise, the show, despite the occasional annoying stereotype (the sassy black diva singer, the stupid quarterback, the fashionable gay guy), was entertaining. I didn’t much appreciate its approach to teen sexuality (there’s much celibacy-lambasting that parents of high school youth will most certainly take offense at). But by the show’s end, I was loving the character of Principal Figgins played by Iqbal Theba.You might remember Theba from this episode of Friends.
According to the entry on the Internet Movie Data Base, Theba worked as a waiter, dishwasher and cook after emigrating from Karachi, Pakistan in the early 80′s and went on to study acting at the University of Oklahoma after first getting his degree in civil engineering. His work in television is impressive. He’s appeared in Weeds, ER, Nip/Tuck, Two and a Half Men and Chuck among other shows.
On Glee, Theba’s character, the poker-faced Principal Figgins (who sounds exactly like my dad, ha) is obsessed with keeping the school’s budget under check. Gotta love his one-liners. Anyone else a Principal Figgins fan? I’d be curious to know how a character with a clear South Asian accent got the name Figgins. Also, in episode 2, “Showmance” there’s a scene that implies Figgins may be Christian. After the glee club performs a risque number in front of the entire student body, Figgins says, “I took the liberty of calling my pastor to provide a list of family-friendly songs that reflect our community’s values.” Whoa, Nellie. Stop the presses. Could Figgins (*gasp) be a Pakistani Christian? (If so, I still want to know where he got that last name. ‘Cause I don’t know any Figgins…)
Check out the first episode of Glee, on Hulu: