Despite the fact that some of the first Hollywood stars, such as Anna May Wong and Sessue Hayakawa, rose to fame during the silent film era, Asian Americans have been battling for representation in the industry for decades. The Hays Code, which forbade interracial romance and couples from appearing on screen, effectively barred any non-white performers from starring roles and was a curse for a business that lives on love stories. Few Asian Americans were able to create shows and movies behind the scenes, which led to erroneous and stereotype-based content about them.
Although there is still a long way to go before Hollywood can claim to be genuinely egalitarian, the campaign for representation has recently grown more successful and widely visible. The fact that Shang-chi, the first Asian-descent Marvel lead in the world, and the recent popularity of the film Everything Everywhere All At Once are only two of the numerous examples of this. Audiences won’t accept Asian-American culture as a commodity any longer; instead, these characters and stories are starting to exist as they are. These are the best Asian American-focused shows to date, however there will be many more.
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In the 1994 television series All-American Teenager, Margaret Cho played a Korean-American girl named Margaret who was attempting to figure out who she was. Margaret, a native American who is the daughter of Korean immigrants, must learn to balance the traditional expectations of her parents and grandparents with the American culture she is more accustomed to because all three generations of her family reside in the same home. Although it did have issues with how it represented the culture, the show was a start that was abruptly cancelled owing to conflicts between the celebrity, the material, and the production. Even after the debut of All-American Girl, few television programs featured Asian-American families.
Asian-American actress Peyton Elizabeth Lee plays the title character in the Disney Channel television series Andi Mack from 2017. Andi Mack, a seventh-grader in middle school, is 13 years old and has just learned a crucial secret. Her actual mother is her sister. Andi Mack confronts the actual problems that today’s youth are dealing with after being forced to do so along with the normal teenage experiences. It lasted for three seasons and displayed a remarkable level of depth in each one. Since one of Andi’s pals, Cyrus, comes out during the series, the program also made history as the first Disney production to feature an openly gay character.
Awkwafina is Nora from Queens
Awkwafina, a Nora from Queens who was born there, went back to her birthplace. The show is still airing because a third season was ordered in May 2022. Young adult from Queens, New York City, Nora is portrayed by Awkwafina. Nora aspires to be more than she is at the moment. Since it’s a comedy TV show, there are many of funny parts as she tries to figure out what she wants to do with her life. Those from New York City will find the series to be incredibly appealing and true to life in Queens, as it is mostly set in Flushing.
Bling Empire, which was released in 2021, capitalizes on its wealthy subjects’ customs. The Netflix-exclusive reality television program centers on a community of Asian Americans who live in and around Los Angeles. Being wholly of East and Southeast Asian heritage, it was the first American television program to ever have an all-Asian cast. Rich people’s untidy lives are a television audience favorite, and these folks will provide drama, spending, and luxury products to the show while also showcasing the diversity of Asia. In 2023, a New York-focused spin-off of the series is expected.
Fresh Off the Boat
Years after the debut of All-American Girl, ABC made another attempt with Fresh Off the Boat, a new program about an Asian-American family. It is based on the chef Eddie Huang’s memoirs and depicts a Taiwanese American family residing in Florida in the 1990s. The family just relocated from Washington, D.C. to Orlando in the first season of the five-year story, which is about them starting a new restaurant. Fresh Off the Boat challenges preconceived notions of what an Asian-American family sitcom might be, highlighting the urgent need for additional television programming featuring such themes. It was the first television show with a primary cast entirely made up of Asian Americans that had more than 100 episodes.
Master of None
Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, two comedians, are the minds behind Netflix’s Master of None. This comedy, which is set in New York City, chronicles the life of Dev, played by Aziz Ansari, as he pursues a career as an actor. Being a single Indian-American, he spends a lot of time looking for a girlfriend, going on dates, and looking for new jobs. His stories take turns over the course of three seasons, giving him a charming, complex personality. Many people thought the show was among the best shows that year when it first aired.
Never Have I Ever
The protagonist of the 2020 series Never Have I Ever, which was created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, is an Indian-American high school student who is dealing with a tragedy in her life. When she was fifteen, her father died suddenly, and the shock soon after caused her to lose her ability to walk for three months. 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. The show follows her as she navigates bereavement and academic life, striking a welcome balance between drama and humor.
In the action thriller Nikita Nikita, starring Maggie Q, the lead character, Nikita, escapes from a dubious organization that is supported by the government. She chooses to bring down the organization in an effort to exact revenge after hiding from her former captors for three years. This assignment won’t be simple for Nikita because the group known as Division trains unstable people to be killers and spies from an early age. As Nikita seeks to exact her revenge on those who injured her in the past, there are many difficulties, dilemmas, and even love along the way.
The Chair, a television program that examines academia and universities critically, is led by Sandra Oh. Ji-yoon Kim, a character played by Oh, is the first female chair of the English department at the Pembroke, a fictional college. She is a new employee who must now negotiate the politics of colleges, being an Asian American woman in such a position, and what it means to be one. Oh is the star of the show, tying the dramatic and humorous parts together even when they theoretically shouldn’t.
The Mindy Project
The Mindy Project by Mindy Kaling ran from 2012 to 2017, accumulating an astounding six seasons. The late Kaling’s mother, an OB/GYN, served as inspiration for the program. In the program, Kaling plays New York-based OB/GYN Mindy Lahiri, who struggles to balance her personal and professional lives. The Mindy Project is a lighthearted look at living as a young adult in the city while sharing a small room with her coworkers. She must learn to navigate the romantic waters of what it means to date someone one works with as she falls in love with her coworker. Even though it sags in the later seasons, The Mindy Project showcases Kaling at her best.
The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo
The first season of The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo began airing in 1996 and ran for three years till 1999. In the Nickelodeon show, Irene Ng played Shelby Woo, a girl from Cocoa Beach, Florida, who enjoys solving mysteries. She is identified in the series as Chinese American and frequently appears at the neighborhood police department as an unofficial intern to solve crimes. Her grandfather and the other adults there, though, don’t like what she’s doing and want her to keep away from the situations they handle.
Wu Assassins premiered in 2019 and had just one season, though a movie adaptation called Fistful of Vengeance was released in the world in 2022. In Wu Assassins, a mixed-race Chinese and Indonesian chef in San Francisco unintentionally becomes involved in a scheme to unearth legendary abilities known as the Wu Xing. His goal is to defeat the Wu Warlords before it’s too late after finding that he is the last of the Wu Assassins and has been granted extraordinary strength and speed. Despite only having 10 episodes, the series is nonetheless quite engaging due to the abundance of action.
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