A gay Syrian immigrant. A Ugandan baker. A 12-year-old Indian boy turned hotel manager. These are a few of the immigrant stories that Little America hopes to tell.
The anthology-structured series tells eight different immigrant-centered stories from around the U.S. It premiered Jan. 17 on Apple TV+, and has already been ordered for another season, Variety reported.
Known for his actor-producer role in the 2017 romantic comedy The Big Sick and as one of the protagonists in HBO’s Silicon Valley, the Pakistani American multi-talent brought in different directors and writers for almost every episode, hoping to tell stories that may be unique to American audiences.
For example, there’s an episode that revolves around Rafiq, a gay Syrian refugee in Boise, Idaho, struggling to find a community of his own. The stories intentionally take place in a variety of small town American settings.
“I grew up in Pakistan, and my America that I knew was from movies, which is L.A. and New York,” Nanjiani said in an interview with TV Guide. “And then when I moved, I moved to Iowa. And I remember being like ‘Oh, you guys did not advertise this part.’ I think pop culture usually portrays very specific centers, so that was also exciting was in the show to be able to show, somewhat ironically, more of America than people usually see in movies and TV shows.”
Nanjiani himself immigrated from Pakistan when he was 18. Although some of the stories will portray more formidable challenges, such as deportations, he said that the tone of the show is mainly “optimistic,” according to an interview in The New York Times.
“Listen, despite all the issues, I personally do feel optimistic about this country. It is my home, and I chose it to be my home for a reason,” Nanjiani said. “But I do feel optimistic in this country, and so the show obviously has that perspective in it, too.”
Although he and the other producers — including Nanjiani’s wife Emily V. Gordon, Lee Eisenberg, Alan Yang, Sian Heder, and Joshuah Bearman — are aware of the current anti-immigrant climate of America, they hope that the series will not be overly “politicized” and that the audience will focus on the stories and people.
Nanjiani, although not acting in this series, will be preparing for a role of his own: the first South Asian superhero onscreen in Marvel’s Eternals. He will be starring alongside Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, and Salma Hayek in the film, which will be released on November 6, 2020, according to Hollywood Reporter.
Little America is now streaming on Apple TV+.
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