Judging from the show’s low ratings, I may be the only one actually watching the new ABC show Lucky 7. So perhaps it’s not surprising that no one has been talking about the show’s desi subplot.
Some reviewers have described the premise as “not really unique enough to make Lucky memorable,” which is a surprise to me since the premise is so strange: seven characters who work at a gas station in Queens all pool together to enter one of those “MegaMillions” type lotteries. When the workers pull up the winning number, they have some issues to sort out. (As a side note, the show is based on a British series of the same name and with the same rough premise.)
One character has been hiding a secret regarding an adopted child; a pair of brothers are being investigated by the police for a crime they committed; and there is a Pakistani American girl named Samira Lashari, played by Summer Bishil, whose family has been pressuring her into an arranged marriage. (Yes, I know — a little groan on that one. But stay with me.) So there’s a fair amount of comedy, but also some police investigation type stuff and some personal drama.
First of all, I am a bit relieved they cast at least one South Asian character at this gas station. Having no South Asian workers in a show about a gas station in Queens would be a little like a show about an E.R. without any South Asian doctors… (ahem). Even as it is, four out of seven of the workers are white, which still stretches plausibility.
While we mostly just saw a brief glimpse of Samira and her family in the first episode of Lucky 7 (complete with a silly rendition of a desi accent from her father, played by Rizwan Manji of Outsourced), the second episode of the show develops her character a bit more. Early in the episode she’s asked by a reporter what she intends to do with her lottery millions, and her first answer is a laundry list of items other members of her family want or need (“my brother needs a new laptop”…). The reporter then asks her, “But what do you want?” And she has to admit she doesn’t know yet: “I’m just beginning to find out.”
Later in the episode, Samira gets a break from her usual work clothes and gets to glam it up as her female coworkers go on a shopping spree based on an advance from a bank on their coming lottery millions (they haven’t actually gotten the money yet). But perhaps most interesting is the plot involving Samira’s secret romance with her white coworker, an ex-con named Nicky Korzak. In this episode, she has been resisting his advances, but he finally confronts her and tells her she needs to stop living for her family, to stop being the “good little immigrant girl” — and take charge of her own life. She finds that message compelling (they smooch); later we see them out partying together at a nightclub.
While it’s not like we’ve never seen this “my parents want me to have an arranged marriage, but I am in love with a thug” dynamic before, we haven’t seen it quite so much on network TV, and I’m curious to see where they take this. For many second gens, the tension between parental expectations and personal interests is a very real, non-trivial issue. Will the writers of Lucky 7 take it seriously? Given its abysmal ratings, it’s entirely possible that the show will be cancelled before we find out. That would be a shame — but then, at least we still have Mindy.