Giving Diversity a Chance to Play the Lead

“Give Me A Chance and I’ll Change The World” — Beau Sia

One of my favorite spoken word poems of all time belongs to Beau Sia. In his piece “Give Me A Chance” he talks about the extreme difficulties of being an Asian performer in a country where far too often he is seen as an exotic commodity or is just plain invisible. Although the poem came out over 10 years ago, it is just as relevant today as it was back then, as his poem has been on my mind the past few days, what with the recent reveals of Tilda Swinton playing a Tibetan bald monk in Doctor Strange and now Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell. And in case people forgot, The U.S. adaptation of Death Note is now coming to Netflix with Nat Wolff playing Light Yagami. Yes, just like the other anime adaptation, they didn’t bother to change his last name (I can already hear the arguments that white people can have Japanese surnames too, how dare you be so narrow-minded Edward).

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Asian American Boys as the Hero? Props, Disney

Tonight marks the official debut of Fresh Off the Boat in its regular Tuesday night time slot. Though it did pretty big numbers last week, tonight’s airing is the make-or-break since it’ll be going up against ratings behemoth NCIS — as well as our beloved The Flash. This is why god invented DVRs.

But the Huangs weren’t the only Asian American family to show up on television last week. Over on the Disney Channel, the Callistos made their debut as well with the premiere of the new Disney Junior series Miles From Tomorrowland. And just like FOTB, a precocious Asian American tween is at the center of the show.

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Fresh Off the Boat by Artist Krishna Sadasivam

If you were one of the 14 million people that caught either of Wednesday night’s Fresh Off the Boat debut episodes, you know that the show — loosely based on the Eddie Huang memoir of the same name — has gotten off to a promising start. Let’s hope the other networks take notice and start truly broadcasting in color!

Now the show is finally out there for the world to see, we wrap up our special week-long tribute to Fresh Off the Boat  with this piece of star Hudson Yang as Eddie by PC Weenies creator and SIUniverse alum Krishna Sadasivam. Speaking of Hudson, be sure to read this heartfelt piece by his dad — and friend of the blog — Jeff Yang in the L.A. Times.

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Fresh Off the Boat by Point and Question

Our second Fresh Off the Boat-inspired illustration today comes from the collective known as Point and Question, a.k.a. Jef Castro and SooJ Lee. Don’t forget to catch the premiere of the life and times of young Eddie Huang tonight on ABC at 8:30pm (sandwiching a new episode of Modern Family).

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Fresh Off the Boat by Artist Quan

Tonight’s the night! The first two episodes of Fresh Off the Boat — the sitcom loosely based on the Eddie Huang memoir of the same name — debut on ABC at 8:30pm (sandwiching a new episode of Modern Family). Since ABC is giving you double the FOTB, we’re also going to be doubling up our artistic tributes to the show. Come back later in the day for a piece by SIUniverse alum Jef Castro. But right now, dig this dope piece from Boston-based illustrator Quan.

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Fresh Off the Boat by Artist Earl Yi

As we continue the countdown to the premiere of Fresh Off the Boat — which chronicles the early life of Eddie Huang — we’ve been asking some of our favorite artists to help us celebrate the first Asian American family comedy on network television in 20 years. Next up is the homie Earl Yi.

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Fresh Off the Boat by Artist Alex Tarampi

This Wednesday at 8:30pm, the hotly anticipated new sitcom Fresh Off the Boat — loosely based on the childhood and memoir of writer and chef Eddie Huang — finally makes its debut on ABC. To celebrate the first Asian American family comedy on network television in more than two decades, we’ve asked some of our favorite artists to create illustrations celebrating the show. First up is Alex Tarampi.

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Fresh Off the Boat: Television Karma

by Jeff Yang | Originally posted at Quartz

In 1994, exactly 20 years ago, ABC decided to pick up the pilot for comedian Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl, making it the first sitcom to put an Asian American family on network prime-time TV. The show was slammed by the press and rapidly faded in the ratings; after airing just 19 episodes, the decision was made to cancel it. In her book, Cho cited bad reviews from Asian American cultural critics as being a key reason for ABC’s lack of faith in the show, calling out one in particular — me.

Two decades have gone by, and no network has aired another Asian American family sitcom since. But this weekend, ironically, ABC officially picked up Fresh Off the Boat — a sitcom based on celebrity chef Eddie Huang’s New York Times bestselling memoir of growing up with his two brothers and immigrant parents as a hip-hop-loving outsider in suburban Orlando, Florida. Playing little Eddie: My son, Hudson Yang.

The irony — or is it karma? — in the situation led me and my friend, illustrator Louie Chin, to collaborate on this comic.

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