By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent
Here’s proof diversity works in Hollywood.
ABC announced Thursday it has picked up Dr. Ken for a second season.
As early as December I raised the possibility that all five of the new TV shows featuring Asian Americans in lead roles could potentially be renewed.
Dr. Ken starring funny man Ken Jeong was the last of those shows to get a second season.
The ratings while not exceptional for Dr. Ken were considered good for a Friday night, which is traditionally a night with low viewership.
Jeong’s show also pairs well with its lead in, Last Man Standing, starring comedian Tim Allen. Surprisingly, the fate of Last Man’s Standing has not yet been announced.(UPDATE: Last Man’s Standing has been renewed by ABC)
More importantly, Dr. Ken is just the second show currently on television featuring an Asian American family. Co-starring Suzy Nakamura as wife Allison, Albert Tsai as son Dave and Krista Marie Yu as daughter Molly, the doctor’s family is depicted as typically American which happens to be a biracial one, Korean and Japanese American. Despite concerns from those in the AAPI community that Jeong’s portrayal of the doctor would set it back, Dr. Ken has done the opposite.
Two episodes in particular stand out. The Thanksgiving episode depicted Ken’s struggles as a lapsed Korean and the difficulties he faced with his children seemingly adapting their Korean heritage more than their Japanese side.
A more recent episode guest starring Randall Park centers around Park and Jeong’s fraternity-like activities in a Korean men’s club and their failed attempt to portray the club to their wives as a civic minded organization.
Other first year shows starring Asian Americans coming back for a second season are Quantico starring Priyanka Chopra, Master of None starring Aziz Ansari, Into the Badlands with Daniel Wu and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend with Vincent Rodriguez III.
Now the focus needs to move to the big screen. When is Hollywood going to realize that if diversity can work in television it can also work in big budget films? The constant whitewashing of films, the constant rewriting of characters to turn Asian characters into White ones, the constant exclusion of Asian Americans from lead roles is not only poor casting, it’s bad business.
Asian Americans, people of color, and others who support diversity must put our pocketbooks where our hearts are. Don’t patronize Hollywood films that treat us as an afterthought. I pledge not to support these films either at the box office or in the secondary rental market. What will you do?
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