No Pets or Foreigners attempts to capture laowai experience in new sitcom

Possibly coming to a TV or Youku stream near you is a new sitcom called No Pets or Foreigners, which follows the misadventures of Melvin and Larry, two Westerners in Beijing, as well as their brusque Chinese landlord Mr. Li and his materialistic daughter Lingling.

In an interview with Timeout Beijing, South Africa-born show creator and star Murray Clive Walker explained the show’s humour is “mostly about taking the piss out of two foreigners. I’m aware of the whole mianzi thing with the Chinese so I won’t be making any digs at them and their culture. There’s a lot of toilet humour as well because I think that’s something we all wrestle with here what with the squat toilets. It’s not meant to be sophisticated but I do want to imbue the show with an emotional content. I’d like to find that balance between humour and emotion.”

This sitcom is about Chinese and “Foreigner” bonding and unbonding. It’s about cherishing the similarities and relishing the differences that exist between all of us. The language is a combination of Chinese and English, Melvin and Larry speak English with each other, but Chinese with Mr. Lee and his daughter, Lingling. This show attempts to peel away cultural layers and thereby focus on what lies on the inside, the intrinsic nature of who we are undefined by culture, creed, religion and class. — From the show’s description on Youtube.

Currently working on distribution, Walker has been in talks with both Youku and NBC. While the show is certainly familiar and funny to China expats, Walker told Timeout that they are primarily focusing on attracting Chinese viewership.

From the trailer (above, and on Youku), the show’s laowai leads appear to have a bit of a Peep Show dynamic. I’m unsure if Walker will be able to avoid the old expat clichés, but I’m looking forward to seeing more. Check out the show’s Facebook Page for updates.

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5 Comments
  1. So are we just all ignoring the racist title? The one that reminds us all of the “No Chinese or dogs allowed” sign in front of the park in that Bruce Lee movie?

    • Profile photo of Ryan

      Not to be overly pedantic (as the title of this site suggests, I’m pretty relaxed about such things) but “foreigner” isn’t a race. Regardless, I suspect the line being drawn to the “No Chinese or dogs allowed” trope is intentional. Do you find it offensive June?

      • Ryan, with all due respect, saying that “foreigners” isn’t a race is disingenuous. The Chinese aren’t a race either. It’s very dubious that races even exist. The word “racism” is however used to mean prejudice against other ethnic groups. I certainly call the Chinese racist for their attitudes against foreigners , who aren’t a “race”.

        • Profile photo of Ryan

          Fair enough. Are you offended by the title of the show? Do you feel it is racist?

          The reason I’m curious is because this has been a constant conversation here at Lost Laowai for those very feelings/reasons and I’m always curious to get more opinion on the matter.

          When a foreigner calls another foreigner “foreigner” should it be taken as offensive? Obviously it’s highly subjective, so I’m not intending to get a solid rule to live by or anything, but I am curious where we might draw some lines. I think there’s a good deal of context involved in what makes something racist, and generally speaking if a member of the group in question is using the term non-derogatorily, I don’t find it offensive, as it’s not intended to be offensive or hurtful.

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