In addition to the upcoming fourth season of “Insecure,” and her starring role in the love story The Photograph, Issa Rae is in a different sort of romantic comedy, The Lovebirds, featuring Pakistani-American actor Kumail Nanjiani.
Paramount, the studio housing the feature film, released the trailer for The Lovebirds today before it premieres in March at SWSW’s Film Festival. It will be released in theaters across the nation in April.
According to Shadow and Act, Michael Showalter, who directed Nanjiani’s film The Big Sick, will direct this piece as well. Aaron Abrams and Brendan Gall wrote the screenplay.
According to the official synopsis, the film is about a couple, Jibran and Leilani, (Issa and Nanjiani) “experiences a defining moment in their relationship when they are unintentionally embroiled in a murder mystery. As their journey to clear their names takes them from one extreme – and hilarious – circumstance to the next, they must figure out how they, and their relationship, can survive the night.”
The casting of a Black woman and a Pakistani-American man was not planned.
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Issa shared that after they wrapped the shoot in New Orleans, that this wasn’t the vision for the film.
“Initially they were written for white people which, plot-wise, would have been a different story. It’s not a story about race but we wanted to acknowledge our race and the fact that we’re an interracial couple.”
The change required some rewrites. There was even a change to the film’s resolution.
The inclusion of an Asian man next to a Black woman plays on the “controversial” and half-joking idea Issa shared in her book The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl. It’s about Asian men and Black women partnering because American society views these groups as the least attractive.
“Educated black women are too high maintenance, high strung and independent—they don’t need men. There is a widening gap between the education of black women and men, which doesn’t leave very many “suitable” suitors. Unfortunately, the higher one’s degree, as a black woman, the lower your chances are of getting married. Add to the con pile the stereotypes of being loud, complicated, and difficult. Black women, your reputation sucks.
Asian men are also overburdened with racial stereotypes that don’t really work in their favor. Why wouldn’t women want to marry and reproduce with men who are classified as intelligent hard workers? Maybe because Asian men are frequently emasculated in the media, or presented as sexes props, for comedic relief. Oh, if only they could absorb the burden of black male stereotypes (gentalia exaggerations included), maybe their demand would increase. Maybe that would make all the difference. Instead, the plight of Asian mend is nearly the same as that of Black women, except for the fact that their women tend to marry white or “other” far more often. In fact, Asian Americans have the highest rate of intermarriage. Asian men, your reputation sucks too.
This is why I propose that black women and Asian men join forces in love, marriage, and procreation. Educated black women, what better intellectual match for you than an Asian man? And I’m not talking about Filipinos; they’re like the blacks of Asians. I’m talking Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, et cetera.”
Nanjiani shared his favorite moments from the film.
“The aspects I love the most are the rare moments of sweetness between the two leads. They spend so much of the movie bickering that the hints of what they used to be are my favorite.”
You can watch the trailer for The Lovebirds in the video below.