Wednesday, September 03, 2014

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: ASIAN CHARACTERS ON SOAPS

From the age of 7 to 24, I lived in San Francisco, CA. For four of those years, I attended a magnet high-school that was primarily Asian. Now, my oldest son attends a New York City high-school that's so predominantly Asian that the new mayor wants to change the highly selective admission criteria to "even things out." (To read what I think about that, click here.)

As an immigrant, Asians have always been a part of my American experience, which is why I was frequently surprised by their lack of representation in movies and television in general, and on soap-operas in particular.

My latest piece for Entertainment Weekly focuses on daytime's rather dismal record, including examples from The Young & the Restless, As the World Turns, All My Children, General Hospital and more, as well as where I think they've finally gotten it right:

Last week on General Hospital, Lucas and Brad’s post-coital Knot’s Landing binge-watch was interrupted by news of Maxie and Lulu’s kidnapping (as such things in soaps are wont to be). For some viewers, the big news might have been the sight of two men in bed together. Gay couples are still a rarity in daytime, and this one is, arguably, the most interesting and fun yet (feel free to disagree in the comments; I know As the World Turns’ Luke and Noah (or Luke and Reid); Days of Our Lives‘ Will and Sonny; One Life to Live‘s Kyle and Fish; All My Children‘s Bianca and Marissa; and Guiding Light‘s Olivia and Natalia have their die-hard fans).

But, for me, the even bigger news is that Brad is played by the Asian actor Parry Shen—and his storyline is, shockingly, not just about him being Asian! Brad being Asian and, for that matter, gay, are only parts of who he is, not his defining traits.

When the character was first introduced in February 2013, his sole purpose was to help schemer Britt fake a medical condition to snare a man (as such things are also wont to be in soaps). His being Asian or gay wasn’t relevant. He was merely a plot point, which, in the long run, turned out to be a good thing.


Read the complete post at: http://community.ew.com/2014/09/02/soap-operas-asian-actors/

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