Sunday, March 16, 2003

OK, I admit it. I don't watch a whole lot of television but I do watch quite a bit of reality TV. Most of the relationship shows: Elimidate, the 5th Wheel, Change of Heart. Did watch Joe Millionaire, Temptation Island, and segments of Married by America. Didn't care too much for the Bachelor or the Bachelorette. And though I didn't watch American Idol last year, I do watch it this year.

When I run into it, I do watch the "I'm a Celebrity, Get me out of here." I just want to watch whiney "semi-celebs" stick their hands in jars with insects, but I do have to turn the channel when they complain about how that the only thing they get to eat is rice and beans.

It's one of those shameful guilty things one does. I wouldn't necessarily call it a guilty pleasure, more like a guilty torture. Reality TV is really filled with unhappy people. People looking for something, especially the relationship shows.

Most of the shows are based on sex and drama and on the suspense of who will make the fairy tale come true.

Speaking of which there aren't a whole lot of Asian people on these shows either. There are Asian women on the relationship shows, but the Asian guys usually get cut right quick, usually because there "wasn't a sexual attraction."

And there is one show that used to be all about Asians, but it's now about what the show couldn't be..."All American Girl."

Once upon a time, there was a show called, "All American Girl." It starred Margaret Cho and loosely based on her stand up comedy on her Korean family. It was an amazing thing! Asian families didn't exist on TV. We didn't see them at home with parents and siblings and grandparents. As much as I would have liked to have supported the show, it was really awful. They had cut the edge from her comedy that made it funny. They had Uncle Ben's rice in the rice cooker. They had all the token Asian things: nerdiness, meek young men, strict unemotional older men, violin playing, and older Asian women who's hair was so tightly wound up, it gave me a headache.

The plot was something about how she didn't want to really be a part of her family. Frankly, I didn't blame her. After the first episode they lost a lot of the Asian American viewership, which made the network conclude that maybe she just wasn't Asian enough. In her DVD of her standup show, "I'm the One that I Want," she explains how they hired an Asian consultant to improve her "Asian-ness." She talks about how the Network thought she was too fat and needed to lose weight (she wasn't the demure, petite Asian) and put her on a diet that caused her kidneys to fail.

Each week, they changed the plot, changed the characters, hoping to "please" the Asians. It was the most haphazard shows on TV. By the second season, they got rid of the family (the family wasn't funny), and kept Maraget and the Grandma.

In her standup routine, Cho describes how she was striving to be what everyone else wanted. Here was the Asian community wanting a hit star and show, the ratings of middle America getting a crash course on who Asians were, and this title, "All American Girl" which is as close to Miss America as one can get. Fortunately for Cho she's able to find humor in it again.

So now there's a new show, "All-American Girl" produced by of course, Disney, ready to define in specific terms what that means. And not only are they going to be judged by a panel, but voted by the American public. I wonder if I have to wait decades before All-American Girl looks like me.

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