Question of the day: How are Asians represented in mainstream film and television?

Ask any Canadian or American citizen of Asian descent this question: How are Asian people represented in mainstream film and television?

Likely, their answers will all be quite similar. Asians have been portrayed either as doctors, Straight-A Students, kick-ass martial artists, or characters similar to that of Ken Jeong’s in the feature film, ‘The Hangover’. As a Canadian-Born Chinese, I can say I am neither of these. What these are, are just good ol’ racial stereotypes.

A new show will be premiering this fall on ABC (American Broadcasting Network). Aptly named “Fresh Off the Boat”, this comedy looks at a family of Asian American immigrants from Taiwan who are searching for their own “American Dream”, by opening a Steak Restaurant in Florida. The show aims to take a comedic approach in portraying the daily struggles of young Eddie, the main character, and his efforts to assimilate into suburban American culture.

I find that I can personally relate to the show’s primary plotline and its characters. Young Eddie’s life is comparable to that of my Canadian-born mom with Chinese-immigrant parents from China. Her childhood stories are just like that of young Eddie. She can relate to bringing home-cooked Chinese food for lunch, while others bring sandwiches, and has fond memories of sneaking out to the disco (yes, my mom loved to disco), comparable to Eddie’s love for all things hip hop.

I’m really excited that ABC has given this show a chance, as there are not many mainstream shows or movies with a full leading Asian cast. I feel that “Fresh Off the Boat” is a realistic portrayal of the struggles of an immigrant Asian family in North America, and breaks away from the common stereotypical portrayal of Asians in the mainstream. The leads are not typecast as doctors, Straight-A students or kick-ass martial artists, but real people working hard towards their dream.

I will be tuning in to the premiere of “Fresh Off the Boat” come this fall, and I hope you will too! Watch the trailer below. Share your thoughts on this new TV show. Love it? Hate it? Let me know!

Until next time,

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