ABC apologizes for controversial ‘Quantico’ episode, defends star Priyanka Chopra

ABC studios issued an apology to its Indian fans after outrage over a recent episode of the network’s crime drama “Quantico,” which depicted Indian nationalists trying to frame Pakistan for a New York City terrorist plot.

The studio also defended the show’s star, Priyanka Chopra, who appeared to be the target of much of the backlash from the June 1 episode titled, “The Blood of Romeo.”

“ABC Studios and the executive producers of ‘Quantico’ would like to extend an apology to our audience who were offended by the most recent episode, ‘The Blood of Romeo’,” the network said in a statement released Friday.

The episode also sparked calls for a boycott of products from South Korean giant Samsung Electronics Co, endorsed by Chopra, and other work by the former Bollywood actress. Chopra, 35, is a revered Bollywood star in India, admired for her ability to cross over and achieve success in Hollywood, which has been rare for Indian actors.

After the recent Quantico episode, Chopra has faced online attacks at home, and even some calls to boycott her work and the brands that she endorses, including South Korean giant Samsung Electronics Co.

“The episode has stirred a lot of emotion, much of which is unfairly aimed at Priyanka Chopra, who didn’t create the show, nor does she write or direct it,” said Walt Disney-owned ABC in its statement.

Some had called on the government to black out the scene where Chopra, who stars as an FBI agent in the series, holds up sacred Hindu prayer beads as evidence that the plotter in the episode, planning to detonate a nuclear bomb in New York, was an Indian nationalist.

“The myth of Hindu terror, by a fake story, enters American television with the help of Priyanka Chopra. Would any Pakistani actress betray Pakistan or Islam the way she betrays India and Hinduism?”, David Frawley, a Hindu scholar based in the United States, tweeted.

ABC, in its statement, said Chopra has no involvement in the storylines depicted in the series. “The show has featured antagonists of many different ethnicities and backgrounds, but in this case we inadvertently and regrettably stepped into a complex political issue. It was certainly not our intention to offend anyone,” ABC said in a statement.

Movies and popular culture have been under attack from Hindu nationalists in India in the recent years. Earlier this year, a fringe outfit held violent protests and threatened actors over the release of Bollywood film “Padmaavat”, which showed a Muslim ruler pursuing a Hindu queen. In 2016, online retail company Snapdeal was forced to drop actor Aamir Khan as its ambassador after backlash over his comments on intolerance in India.

Even though it’s a fictional show, Indian fans of “Quantico” are mad at the ABC show – for portraying India in a bad light in a recent episode – and its lead actor, Priyanka Chopra, for allowing that to happen.

The episode, which aired June 1, showed ‘Indian nationalists’ – one of them wears a ‘rudraksh’ on a chain – plotting to carry out a nuclear attack in Manhattan, and frame Pakistan for it. Chopra’s character, Alex Parish, thwarts the plot, which was meant to disrupt a summit on Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

“ABC Studios and the executive producers of ‘Quantico’ would like to extend an apology to our audience who were offended by the most recent episode, ‘The Blood of Romeo,’” the network said in a statement, reports Deadline. “The episode has stirred a lot of emotion, much of which is unfairly aimed at Priyanka Chopra, who didn’t create the show, nor does she write or direct it. She has no involvement in the casting of the show or the storylines depicted in the series.”

Further explaining that “Quantico” is a “work of fiction,” the network said that the show has featured antagonists of many different ethnicities and backgrounds. “But in this case we inadvertently and regrettably stepped into a complex political issue. It was certainly not our intention to offend anyone,” it added. This is “Quantico’s” third and final season.

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