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(As a related side note: it’s easier, I suspect, to have Asian faces in a world that doesn’t resemble our own reality.) Granted, blatantly offensive casting still happens: are perfect examples of just how entrenched these stereotypes are.However, in its effort to avoid offending, the liberal sensibility has swung in the other direction and mostly sidestepped talking about race (the same fortunately cannot be said for the new fall crop of black and Latino shows, including , which lasted all of six episodes before getting canned.
Identification for the viewer — Asian-American or not — would be a challenge, because the characters of publicized itself as based on Margaret Cho’s stand-up comedy, but that was mostly just a gloss.
Cho was the youngest representative of a wave of female comediennes turned network stars in that era, including Brett Butler, Ellen De Generes, and Roseanne Barr.
“To not even talk about [race] is a really new and, I think, mature way to look at it,” John Cho said about his role.
When Asianness has been an impediment to success, it’s understandably refreshing to be cast without regards to race.
From her standup material you knew Margaret Cho as the potty-mouthed broad with an almost too-shrill voice.
Her mom was in charge of the gay lit section of the bookstore and one day found herself getting into reading .She hangs up the phone and her mom Katherine (Jodi Long) immediately picks a fight with her, digging into her clothes, then her boyfriend at the time, Kyle. ” Margaret demands in an aggressively drawling valley-girl tone.“And I hope you’ve got something better than, ‘He’s not Korean.’” “I do,” says her mom in her accented one.They pointed at her “problem” areas and said that her face filmed too wide for the camera.(She has later noted that she thinks this was simply because they didn’t know how to shoot Asian faces.) So she exercised like mad, took fen-phen, and lost 30 pounds within two weeks, which promptly forced her into renal failure.She felt the heavy symbolism the show carried, that its success as the first Asian-American family sitcom could change perceptions around whether an Asian actor could be bankable.During her comedy tour, “I’m the One that I Want” a few years later, she remembered calling her mom on Mother’s Day to tell her that ABC had picked up the show: “She didn’t want me to be a standup comedian because she experienced so much racism and hatred coming to America in the ’60s that she just could not believe that this country would accept her child,” she said.There were setups that hinted at real possibility, at acknowledging the fact that everyone else in the family dealt with particularly American experiences — as when their dad Benny (Clyde Kusatsu) struggled with the family business, a bookstore, or when Grandma Kim stapled herself to the chair to flip between Oprah and her Korean soaps.But the show misunderstood the ways in which the immigrant experience — refashioning ingredients in the kitchen, tangling with bureaucracy, requiring your child as interpreters — is also an inherently American one.Margaret wanted juicy American freedom, the kind of female bildungsroman that took place in nights out at the local club The Skank, a career in the music industry, and cute white boys with torn jeans and bad jobs.The central conflict of played out along this artificial wall that insulated her family from the rest of American society as an immaculately preserved corner of Asia.