Move over, sitcom fathers of yesteryear –- there’s a new adorkably all-American dad in town.
After an immensely successful crowdfunding effort, comedian and former "Daily Show" correspondent Aasif Mandvi finally launched his new web series, “Halal In The Family,” on Thursday.
Mandvi stars as the ugly-sweater-loving head of the Qu’osby clan, a Muslim American family living in suburbia. While the situations are exaggerated for comedic effect, the issues the Qu’osbys face will be all too familiar for Muslim Americans – ranging from police surveillance to misunderstandings about Sharia law.
And then there’s the annual neighborhood dilemma: Which house on the street does Halloween best? In one episode of the series, Aasif Qu’osby’s competitive streak takes over and, in an effort to outdo his neighbors, he turns his home into a haunted terrorist training camp.
It’s this kind of over-the-top satire that Mandvi hopes will get people talking.
“This is an access point,” Mandvi said during a conversation at WNYC’s The Greene Space in New York City. “We all know this format, we all know the tropes of the sitcom -- the goofy dad and the precocious kids, and the smarter wife -- and to insert a Muslim American family into that, and to fold in these ideas and these issues, felt original to me.”
Mandvi and his co-writer and director Miles Kahn, a "Daily Show" senior producer, are actually an interfaith pair. Kahn is Jewish and Mandvi comes from a Muslim family, although he's never claimed to be devout.
"I don't pray five times a day, but there is a cultural connection to the religion and to the heritage and the history of it that I will always have," Mandvi told HuffPost.
The actor did, however, use an advisory council of eight leading Muslim rights and civil rights groups, including South Asian Americans Leading Together and ACCESS/National Network for Arab American Communities, to make sure he tackled the project in the right way. "Halal In The Family" also partnered with these organizations to create a list of ways viewers can combat anti-Muslim bias.
Four episodes of the series are now available on Funny or Die, and Mandvi and Kahn said they hope to make more.