On the acclaimed HBO show, Sex and the City, one of Carrie Bradshaw’s infamous self-thoughts was, “Can we date outside our caste?” Today, most people watching SATC would say, “Carrie, it’s 2017. That’s a dumb question.” Even when the show aired in 1999, Bradshaw's thoughtless internal monologue beckoned the same reaction.
But perhaps the question of whether one can date outside his or her own background isn’t as clear and obvious as one would think in this day and age. Despite all my SJW tendencies and self-perceived open-mindedness, I can’t help but look at interracial couples at times when I’m in public and think to myself, “Hmm, wonder how they met.”
With that thought, it isn’t surprising that many artists have decided to tackle the question of interracial romance head-on. Just this year, two of the biggest, most critically acclaimed films released were Get Out and The Big Sick, both of which dealt with Carrie Bradshaw’s infamous question, “Can we date outside our caste?”
The Big Sick, directed and starred by Pakistani comedian Kumail Nanjiani, was released on July 14. The film is autobiographical, detailing how Nanjiani and his current wife, Emily Gordon met when she heckled him at one of his comedy shows. Despite their instant connection, Nanjiani, who knows how much his parents would disapprove of him dating a white girl, closes off to Emily, seeing no real future with her. Still, despite his parents’ disapproval, he can not seem to shake the fact that he loves Emily when she goes into a coma due to her illness. Suddenly, Emily's recovery is all that is on Nanjiani's mind.
What makes The Big Sick profound is that, in regards to the difficulties of interracial dating, it doesn’t solely focus on the discriminatory tendencies of white people, which is typically the only perspective shown. Nanjiani spends a lot of screen time with his own family as well, and focuses on his parents’ harsh (and most likely realistic) rejection of him as soon as he introduces them to Emily. In that way, The Big Sick deviates from Get Out, which literally depicts white people as monsters in a horror movie.
The Big Sick and Get Out are two very different films and thus cannot be compared in the same light. What is important is that the topic of interracial dating has been increasingly highlighted (even if contested at times) in the media more than ever before, and its messages are spanning different genres ranging from comedy to horror. The Big Sick isn’t a holier-than-thou film that tries to make you think a certain way. Whatever you get out of it, it’s a hilarious, heart-warming, and feel-good film. The point is, there is a conversation that has begun, and it is our responsibility to continue it. Whether the dialogue is spurred by The Big Sick, Get Out, or even Carrie Bradshaw's SATC column, it is vital that it continues.