The newest episode of CBS’ sitcom, Superior Donuts, recently aired an episode ridden with jokes about Asian women's' butts and Asian men being “tiny.” All of these jokes were said by the black main character Franco, who of course can’t be racist because he’s black, EH WRONG. Like I keep saying, just because you’re discriminated against doesn’t mean you can’t discriminate yourself. In fact, a lot of people who are underprivileged also have privilege, which blinds them to the fact they too have unconscious bias. Also, like I keep saying, CBS and other major cable networks, as well as Netflix (I’m looking at you Kimmy Schmidt), please STOP THINKING IT’S OKAY TO MAKE ASIAN JOKES. Not to mention Franco wore a Chicago Blackhawks jersey in one episode without making any mention that the Blackhawks logo is racist. Native American people are not your mascots.
A while ago I wrote a blog entry about if you can’t have one with out the other. For example, you can’t have a show about racism, such as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, without fat shaming, sexism, and homophobia. One always needs to compensate for other in order to create “comedy.” And to relieve white male viewers. But for the female viewers, they’re just that much more uncomfortable, unless of course they laugh along with the guys because they’ve internalized the patriarchy so much they don’t realize what’s going on. Anyway, this applies to another show that is much more recent, the ABC show, Speechless.
“I love interacting with Asian people. They’re so wise, knowledgeable, polite.”
CBS doesn’t know how to write east Asian characters, and I’m not even talking about 2 Broke Girls, I’m talking about Superior Donuts. Though I can stand the show, there are some extremely cringe worthy parts. The basic blonde woman, Maya, they use in order to show how our generation is making everything so PC and “difficult.” She’s even used to show how ridiculous fighting for feminism and racial equality is. “Donut holes really symbolize vaginas.” She’s well intentioned and I agree with a lot of what she says (not that quote, but other ones about how it’s sexist to call women “baby” or “honey”). But she’s made to sound so ridiculous and the other characters don’t like her that we in turn are told not to like her. Next, there’s Fawz, who’s an immigrant from Iraq. He’s a pretty solid character, but he too falls into being racist and sexist. But at the same time, he acknowledges that he’s racist, which is good, but he just doesn’t care. There’s also a female chauvinist pig white female cop, a Jewish white donut store owner, and a black male cop, but I wont get into right now. Lastly, there’s Franco, an African American guy who actually gives some really poignant points when it comes to racism and police brutality. And that’s the episode I’m going to talk about today. For all the shows flaws, it does talk about racism when it comes to Arab people and African American people. However, when it comes to Asian American characters the show falls extremely flat.
So, I got into HBO’s Westworld recently by a friend’s recommendation. When I first started watching the show I thought, why choose the Wild West? That’s so random. But as time went on I began to understand the setting more and more.
My mom constantly brings up struggles that people living in impoverished conditions face in order to make the people around her, and herself, feel more grateful for what they and she has. “Whenever you think you have it bad, just think about the people who walk bare foot in carrying heavy logs on their heads in [insert 3rd world country/continent named here]. It really puts things in perspective.” That reminds me of the aphorism parents say, “There’s people starving in Africa, you better finish your food.” My mom (and other people) uses “third world problems” to make her feel better and rid herself of white guilt. It helps her cope with her own “first world problems.”
I’ve written before that I don’t like sitcoms. Mainly because they rely on a laugh track to make unfunny things, funny, and use manipulative music to make you feel things, you’re not actually feeling. Another reason I don’t like them is because they usually get their laughs from stereotypical characters (either racially or by sexuality, or gender), and the jokes are based around these marginalized “others.”
When I heard there was finally going to be an Asian American family sitcom, I was pumped. I don’t normally like sitcoms, but having a TV show reflect what I physically look like on cable was a big step for the community that I identify with. So I wanted it to do well, and support it by tuning in each week. Unfortunately, I had to stop watching it. I just couldn’t get into it, even though I sat through almost all three seasons, it just fell flat for me.
Many people, not just Ryan, justify stereotypes by falling into the trap that “they are based in some truth.” Therefore, why be offended by them? Ryan, a Japanese/Hawaiian American, was aware that this opinion would gain some backlash, especially from fellow Asian Americans, me included. He knows that people use stereotypes as a form of racism, but instead of getting angry, like he used to get, he finds it better to laugh at them because, “they are true, right?”
I know that this has been talked about a lot already, but I just found out how How I Met Your Mother ends. "Spoilers," Ted uses his dead wife as a plot device to talk about how he’s actually been in love with Aunt Robin all along. If that’s the case, why not marry Robin in the first place!? Why marry someone you pretended to love or was your “second choice”? It's extremely disrespectful and definitely not romantic. Because of the ending, the whole show doesn't make sense. In real life, it would be extremely disgusting if someone was actually in love with my best friend, and waited till I died of a fatal illness to confess to their children they actually loved my best friend all along. The show is asking the children, and the audience, to be happy that the mom is dead because she was just an obstacle for Ted the whole time.
21 year old college senior. English major. Adopted from China as a baby living in the US ever since. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.