lauded as successfully integrating multiple representations of
identity into the show and also normalizing those depicted
characters’ relationships with the protagonist (D’Addario). Dev’s
desire to master his social sphere is evident in the social group he
keeps and in the normalization of the diversity in his relationships.
With the show as a backdrop, the writers use Dev’s life –
as an actor in New York living his life in the best way he can day
to day – as a method of cultural critique and a form of subversion.
This method is called critical multiculturalism. Coined by Douglas
Kellner, critical multiculturalism probes forms of domination and
articulates normative perspectives from which to criticize (94).
This framework allows the show to bring in a diverse swath of
characters, from his parents to various friends, to demonstrate the
(real) diversity in New York City.
Take Dev’s primary friend group for example. His friends
are Denise (Lena Waithe), a Black lesbian who wears masculine
clothing; Arnold (Eric Wareheim), an average, but weird, White
guy; Brian (Kelvin Yu), a handsome and successful Asian man; and,
a slew of other friends who make brief appearances throughout the
series. Each of these friend characters represents a diversity trope
that was intentional in its casting but also carries with it a contrived
veil, as if the creative team felt a need to tick off the diversity boxes.
It is entirely possible that a group of four friends has the makeup
of an Indian actor, a Taiwanese man, a Black lesbian, and a White
dude. But, that grouping also opens up the show creators to
criticism that they intentionally cast these actors in the roles to
make sure all populations were represented in the show. The
criticism does not come either from the roles these characters play
or from the unlikelihood of their friendship with Dev. The
criticism arises from the notion that the characters exist as they do