Look out! There are some new Hos in town!
HBO Max’s House of Ho returns for its second season this week. The series follows the life of the Ho family led by patriarch Binh Ho and his wife, Hue Ho, a Vietnamese family who are living the American Dream.
The Ho family are an extremely well-off family and live extravagantly in their means. Alongside their adult children – Washington and Judy Ho, who both have families of their own, Binh and Hue show their day-to-day life and struggles of keeping their Vietnamese traditions in America.
Last season, the series focused on Binh and Hue, both in their 70s, and how they felt about their children’s way of life – Judy divorced her husband and found new love, while Washington, the “Golden Child,” overindulged on liquor and partying, despite the disapproval from his wife, Lesley. Still, in the end of the last season, everything seemed to work out in the end with Washington choosing sobriety to save his marriage and Binh and Hue approving of Judy’s new life.
But, quite honestly, that could get a little boring. That’s why this season, the series introduces Washington and Judy’s young – and extremely good-looking – cousins, Kim and Bella Ho.
Both in their early 20s and still figuring out what they want in life, Kim and Bella add some youth into the series.
“We hope to bring a new fresh perspective,” Kim tells The Nerds of Color.
After graduating from Berkeley, Kim returned to Houston to be with her family and is studying to become a dermatologist. Her family – whose father is related to Binh – has always been a bit more conservative than the rest of the Hos and she knew she wanted to return home to be closer to them. Though Kim’s parents are not featured in the series, Kim still wanted to bring up her relationship with her family, especially being torn between keeping up with tradition and just trying to be true to herself as an Asian American.
“We’re going through struggles – being able to honor our parents for their sacrifices – as well as [showing] our own individuality, while maintaining that respect,” says Kim.
Bella, on the other hand, has less to worry about when it comes to Vietnamese customs and was raised a little more liberal than the rest of her family. Her father Andy, who is Binh’s youngest brother, is loud and outrageous as Aunt Tina. Bella credits that to her father arriving in America as a child and understanding what it means to be Asian and American.
“He is really blurring the lines — you can see by his outfit, the way he talks, and who he is as a person,” says Bella. “My dad has definitely never been perfect and he’s gone through struggles that every individual person feels – not just about being a father, but who he is and navigating where you want to be in life and [finding] your purpose in life. He didn’t find that [out] until later, but he made it a point to talk to me about it. [He] makes sure that he is there by my side and [allows] me to do those things and be comfortable with who I am.”
Kim points out that though her father is more traditional in his viewpoints, he does still support her mental health and career goals, but that it just took awhile to get there. She was raised in a strict household, but as she’s gotten older, he’s become more accepting and supportive.
“I am able to have this open dialogue with someone who used to be so strict and [had this whole plan] for me is something that I’ve come to appreciate,” says Kim.
With their return to Houston, and being surrounded by family constantly, Bella says she felt more connected with her Vietnamese roots than ever. After her parents divorced and her mother moved her to Los Angeles as a child, Bella was slowly losing the language and traditions. Now, she’s thrust in constant Vietnamese culture with her family, she is really embracing it all.
“I feel like [when] I’m around all my aunts and uncles and my gigantic family, I’m able to really reconnect with it and not lose it,” Bella admits. “I still learn new things that I didn’t even know, that [are] important in my culture. But now I still get to see those things and I get to learn. I just keep finding new things that I enjoy, and that I would really want to pass on to my children later on in life – or just like even my friends who are willing to learn and want to know about our culture.”
As for the dynamic between her older cousins, don’t expect to see drama develop between them. They actually have a loving and respectful relationship with each other and their older cousins.
“For the most part, we’re pretty neutral,” says Kim. “Because we’re younger, we’re able to understand the views from both sides. So, rather than pick sides, we see the positives and the negatives of each person’s viewpoint.”
They bring up the upcoming drama between Lesley and their other cousin Sammy, who was a bit of a bad influence for the now-sober Washington last season. As Sammy and Washington reconcile their relationship, Lesley still has trouble accepting Sammy back into their lives. Like most Asian families, Kim and Bella get involved but try to bring some balance to the situation.
“Everyone is so strongly opinionated and has their own way of doing things,” Bella explains. “Where did they get that from? They got that from their parents! It’s really hard.”
Not all things are as perfect as it seems for the cousins. Bella is dealing with her estranged mother this season. Her mother was a famous model/influencer in Vietnam and brought Bella along to events and interviews, so Bella is used to the limelight on her and her family’s lives. But, there were times she couldn’t handle all the cameras and wanted to hide.
“Being here [in front of the cameras] and doing it yourself is a completely different feeling,” Bella shares. “I give so much props to all these reality TV stars that have been doing it for years and years and have been going through this very thing that I’m feeling. It’s a lot harder than it looks. You’re putting your life out there for some many people to watch and so many make opinions about you.”
Despite their lives being on display, Kim and Bella liked the idea of representing Asians as part of the series, especially dealing with two completely different generations.
“We’re able to finally share our culture with the entire world and finally be appreciated and not have to shy away,” says Kim. “And, in addition to that, we’re able to also share our stories about our societal pressures, having filial piety to our parents, but also being our own person. So I think it’s a good mixture of both.”
Check out the full interview below: