Saturday, December 3, 2011

How Not to Make an Asian American Sitcom

Holy pooptown! Someone finally did it! Someone in TV land finally realized that Asian-Americans represent a considerable American TV watching demographic and decided to make a good ol' American sitcom just for them! Wow, what a swell age we live in! ...Can you detect the sarcasm yet? Meet The Chin Chens!

I know what your thinking, that title looks pretty ominous.
 Though it has not aired yet (and might not as the production company apparently is involved in an unrelated financial scandal) this is a real project. I found out about it from (check it out, great blog) where it was mentioned with grave sentiments. Alright so what is this? Well its one of those laugh track, family sitcoms, like Fresh Prince of Bellair, or Two and a Half Men or Friends or... well you get the idea. Only the big twist is its about an Asian-American family. Alright so nothing wrong so far right? Figure its about time Asian-American family life was represented in a funny and lighthearted television sitcom right? Why not? And then I saw the demo reel... (watch it now)

Alright so I'll be fair. Most of the scenes in this reel are just really corney and badly written, or dumb or silly or whatever, but that sort of stuff is kind of expected in this genre so I can let it slide (YEAH I SAID IT!). But HOLY SHIT, that theme song is F**KIN RIDICULOUS! Is that how the producers really think Asian Americans feel? "Americans at heart, Asians by blood"??? ", white and blue mixed with Yellow coloured "something or rather?" (I think they said love... or mud) WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT? R to the A to C-I-S-T! What does that spell? I don't use this word lightly friends, but goddam! That's racist, no two ways about it. Also, why is it called the Chin Chens? Chin, and Chen are two family names respectively, so you'd only need one of them... like "The Chens" or "The Chins" but using both of them makes it seem more incorrect and MORE RACIST! Though I don't know for sure, it seems that this show was produced by white folks. Yeah... NO EXCUSE!

Ethnocentric sitcom done right! (that's arguable, I suppose, but it has been running for 6 seasons free of racially charged scandals!)
White people wrote "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Shogun", which were both well written and accurate portrayals of traditional East Asian settings and characters. Neil Gaiman, an acclaimed author and white Englishman, wrote "Anansi Boys", an excellent bit of fantasy in which nearly all the characters are west-Indian. Point is, you don't have to be a certain ethnicity to write accurately about ethnic characters, you just gotta check your facts or, alternatively, not be an IDIOT.

It just seems to me that a total lack of effort and sensitivity went into "The Chin Chens" which SUCKS ASS! Because I truly and deeply believe that a sitcom portraying the daily lives, triumphs and hardships of the "average Asian American family" even from a comedic angel, is due and might be pretty damn interesting. I'm also all for making that huge unemployment line of Asian-American actors that I'm sure MUST exist, shorter. I mean there is a lot there to work with! They could explore the "am I Asian or American?" identity crisis that some people seem to go through, the 1st gen vs. 2nd gen culture gap, immigration, stereotypes, ALL KINDS OF INTERESTING SOCIAL ISSUES COULD BE EXPLORED! But as far as I can tell from this reel... no dice. Which is sad considering what could have been done here. It could have been like Little Mosque on the Prairie... which is GOOD... and CANADIAN! Oh Canada... sometimes I just love you so with your little CBC *hugs ground*

P.S. I'm aware that because this show hasn't aired yet and I haven't seen a full episode yet, my criticism may be premature, but seriously... that theme song is not a good sign of things to come.   

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