Autumn and post-Emmy awards only mean one thing in Hollywood and that is: Fall TV Premiere Season.
But, for someone who spends most of her few available hours of mindless amusement surfing the “super portable screen”, ie. my laptop and the interwebs, rather than surfing the hundreds of DirecTV channels of the small screen, turning on and sitting down in front of my television has become a very seldom event in my house. However, recently one thing has gotten me to keep my laptop on hibernate and reach for the remote (besides the fact that the internet has been down in my building-blast you technology!). What could this mythical power be? Why, it’s none other than the magical lure of the rare and elusive Asian American actor on new prime-time TV series, of course.
For those of you who prefer your Kdramas and Korean variety shows, I get it. I really do. I mean, I’m watching Yoon Eun Hye play the snot on “My Fair Lady”, and can’t wait for Daesung’s return to Family Outing along with the rest of you. But, alas, some of my friends and peers are starting to call me a snob and antisocial for always saying “oh, I don’t watch television anymore” and for constantly refusing their invitations to TV-viewing parties. So this week, I decided on a new approach to keep up with my friends and to have something to chat with them about. But, being the KPOP lover that I am, I decided that I would only watch new Fall shows with at least one Asian actor starring in it.
I was surprised by what I found-not only did I find 3 great new shows to watch, coincidentally enough, all 3 have Korean actors starring in them as well.
“Glee” (Fox, Wednesdays at 9:00/8:00C)
Hands-down one of the most hilarious shows I’ve seen in a long while. Not only is it funny with great one liners, but as a wonderful musical comedy, it also comes with some FANTASTIC song and dance sequences. These musical numbers include our token Asian high school student, in this case not so token at all- Jenna Ushkowitz plays Tina C.-the hardcore punk with an attitude and some amazing pipes.
Ushkowitz was born in Seoul, was then adopted, and raised in New York City where she has been acting since the age of three. The 23 year old actress (and veteran of musical theater) is a wonderful addition to the band of Glee club misfits and singing underdogs. Did I mention that she has an incredible voice? Because she does. And she is hilarious.
“Community” (NBC, Thursdays at 9:30/8:30C)
Another comedy, on the Peacock network’s “Must See TV Thursday” (is it even called this anymore?!! Do you even know what I am talking about? Yeesh…I am starting to feel old…) lineup, like Fox’s “Glee”, also had me in stitches and also featured a wonderfully funny Korean actor. Ken Jeong (whom I’ve seen in a number of films including the awesomely hilarious “Role Models” and also funny “Knocked Up”) plays the somewhat strange and totally eccentric Spanish teacher (as a Spanish-speaking Asian myself, I found this particularly amusing) in this show about a group of random people who meet and form a study group of sorts at a local community college.
The 40 year old Jeong, who holds an MD from UNC Chapel Hill in real life as well as the title of stand-up comedian, plays the hard as nails Señor Chang, and is muy cómico*, to say the least.
* “very funny” in Spanish
“Flash Forward” (ABC, Thursdays at 8:00/7:00C)
Hailed “the most anticipated drama premiere” of the Fall season, Flash Forward, to me, is a flash of genius. From tonight’s pilot episode alone, I already feel like I am glued to the edge of my seat and have to keep watching. Right now the plot seems so absurd that I can only wait to see what unfolds. As it is created by the same people who brought the world “Lost”, I can already feel the sense of obsession and the endless hours spent discussing plot theories that lie ahead. (Admit it-you and your friends spent way too much time thinking about the island and the “others” on “Lost” back in the day when it was super good…) So with all the action and intrigue and a cast of very attractive people, including John Cho, it has definitely been added to my new TV lineup.
John Cho, who we all have seen on the big screen as Harold and Sulu, makes his prime-time debut in a lead (or co-lead) drama role. And man oh man, does he play one sexy Demetri Noh-a gun toting agent of the LA-branch of the FBI. I think Cho has really stepped up his action/drama game since “Star Trek” and I am glad to see him moving in this direction and away from the slapstick and somewhat vulgar humor of the “American Pie” series; Harold, however, will always have a fond place in my heart.
Of course, there are other shows soon to debut (“Three Rivers” with Daniel Henney!!!) and that have already debuted, as well as older shows , that have Asian and Korean actors in them. But, Grey’s Anatomy has gotten way too melodramatic (and ridiculous!) that even Sandra Oh can’t draw me in anymore, and once they found “others” conveniently on the island I stopped watching “Lost” and the lovely Daniel Dae Kim. Furthermore, since I still have to keep up on all my Kdramas and KPOP, there really is no more room in my schedule.
But for those of you looking to give Kdramas and Korean variety a break, give American television a try-maybe you should consider tuning in to see what Korean American actors are bringing to the small screen this Fall. From what I’ve seen, so far, so good. Not only is it a nice change to be watching TV and not having to wait for things to buffer (although commercials are still a drag), it’s nice to also finally see more Asian faces on TV. Don’t you agree?