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.