Despite some early Hollywood stars becoming well-known during the silent film era, Asian Americans have been battling for representation in Hollywood for decades. Moreover, behind the scenes, few Asian Americans were able to create shows and movies, which led to erroneous and stereotype-based content made by non-Asians.
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Hollywood must now reevaluate the Asian American perspective in its movies and shows in light of the recent success of an all-Asian American ensemble, as shown in Shang Chi, Crazy Rich Asians, and, most recently, Everything Everywhere All At Once. Asian American culture will no longer be tolerated by spectators as a commodity. Their stories will begin to appear on the big screen just as they are, and many television programs have already succeeded in doing that.
1 ‘All-American Girl’ (1994 - 1995)
All-American Girl follows Margaret (Margaret Cho), a Korean American girl who struggles with her identity. She is the rebellious offspring of Korean American bookstore owners in San Francisco, whose American outlook frequently clashes with that of her more conventional parents.
Despite some issues with how it represented the culture, the program was one of the first to portray the Asian American community on television, opening the door for many more to come. The program also illustrates how the younger generation must navigate a world in which their parents' traditional ideals clash with their American and Asian identities.
2 ‘Andi Mack’ (2017-2019)
Andi Mack is a Disney Channel TV show that stars Peyton Elizabeth Lee in the title role. Andi Mack, a seventh-grader in middle school, is 13 years old and has just learned an important secret the woman she believes to be her sister (Lilan Bowden) turns out to be her mother.
Andi Mack is one of the first shows to portray an Asian American family as purely American, devoid of stereotypes and accents while tackling sensitive subjects like divorce and coming out at a young age. The show also addresses young people’s real problems via the lens of adolescent life.
3 ‘Awkwafina is Nora from Queens’ (2020 - )
Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens centers on Nora Lin (Awkwafina), a 20-something Queens resident who aspires to lead an extraordinary life. Nora relies on her family as she traverses young adulthood in New York City after being raised alongside her cousin by her dad and grandmother.
The focus of Awkwafina is Nora from Queens was on parent-child relationships characterized by racial and cultural disparities, immigrant-child guilt, and hopes for the American Dream. Moreover, the program has certain distinctive Asian American TV narrative elements, such as community members helping one another or dealing with similar cultural problems.
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4 ‘Wu Assassins’ (2019)
Wu Assassins follows a young Chinatown chef Kai Jin (Iko Uwais), entangled in the Chinese Triad's hunt for dangerous ancient forces known as the "Wu Xing" in modern-day San Francisco. After coming into contact with a supernatural being, Kai reluctantly assumes the identity of the Wu Assassin, endowed with the prowess and might of 1,000 monks who chose to die together to infuse their combined essence into an amulet.
Behind the show's thrilling martial arts lies a narrative about identity, family, goal, and fate, but most importantly, it has something to say about the experience of Asian Americans. Because of the transparency and inclusiveness in making the show, it is loaded with authentic and honest Asian American experiences.
5 ‘Nikita’ ( 2010 - 2013)
Nikita follows the titular character, played by Maggie Q, a woman who defected from the covert government-funded organization known as "Division" and returned after three years in hiding to bring the group to justice.
Underneath the thrilling and action-packed scenes, the program examines an Asian American woman's journey of self-discovery as she navigates her professional and personal lives. In addition, because the show is based on the 1990 French film La Femme Nikita, in which the titular character was white, using a character of color makes the show more powerful and effective.
6 ‘The Mindy Project’ (2012 - 2017)
The Mindy Project is set in a small medical office in New York City; the series follows obstetrician/gynecologist Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) as she struggles to combine her personal and professional lives.
The focus of the show is an Indian American woman, but it does not delve into her Indianness; instead, it investigates how she embraces her American identity and maintains the stereotype of a typical Asian youngster. Although the show is critiqued for not fully exploring and reconnecting with Mindy's background, its ability to increase awareness of the real-life issues facing the Asian American community makes up for this.
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7 ‘Never Have I Ever’ (2020 - 2023)
Never Have I Ever was created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, and it follows Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), a 15-year-old Indian American Tamil girl who is coping with her father’s unexpected death. She also has issues with her social life at school since, despite her desire to climb the social food chain, her mental health and circumstances make it difficult for her to meet new acquaintances.
One of the most realistic shows depicting Asian American teen life, the program breaks preconceptions by featuring Asian American characters of various ethnicities and identities facing numerous life issues, bringing to life a variety of presentations of Asian Americans honestly and authentically.
8 ‘Master of None’ (2015 - 2021)
Master of None, which is set in New York City, chronicles the life of Dev, played by Aziz Ansari, a single Indian American who spends a lot of time looking for a girlfriend and pursuing a career as an actor.
By offering Asian characters rich plots and challenging character arcs, the show battles stereotypes against Asian American people. Additionally, the show and Ansari have altered the landscape of Asian representation on television due to the variety of difficulties the main character encounters which don’t seem to be an issue for white characters, as well as the discreetly incorporated load of parental expectations on immigrant children.
9 ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ (2015 - 2020)
Fresh Off the Boat is set between the years 1995 and 2000 and follows the Huangs (the Mandarin counterpart of Wong), a Taiwanese American family consisting of parents Louis (Randall Park) and Jessica (Constance Wu) and their children. The show follows their life following their relocation from Washington, D.C., to Orlando, Florida, to open a cowboy-themed steakhouse.
Despite being a sitcom, it still eloquently and poignantly depicts many Asian American families. Fresh Off the Boat changed how the Asian American experience is portrayed on television, in addition to the enormous value that representation alone gives. Additionally, since it’s so powerful and iconic, the show established the foundation required to help other Asian and Asian American projects get off the ground, including Crazy Rich Asians.
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10 ‘Pen15’ (2019-2021)
Pen15 follows Maya Ishii-Peters (Maya Erskine) and Anna Kone (Anna Konkle), two seventh-graders social outcasts in 2000, as they navigate through social and personal lives. The name of the program comes from a school prank in which participants were asked to join the "Pen 15 Club" in exchange for writing the word "PEN 15" on their hands.
Pen15 is utterly unique in its portrayal of Asian American girlhood and is notable for being honest about puberty. In addition, the show has often and movingly shown how adolescent Asian Americans can articulate their racialized dread of difference.
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