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Asian American portrayals in media
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Asian American portrayals in media

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Kim’s Convenience, Never Have I Ever, and Everything Everywhere All at Once, three of the best depictions of Asian Americans in media.

AAPI Month flew by, and Asian Americans are still tired of being stereotyped as the nerdy know-it-all. As one of the most prominent forms of popular culture, television shows and movies are more than responsible for furthering (or challenging) this cliché. So, here are some of the most authentic and stereotypical depictions of Asian Americans in popular media.

Authentic 

Kim’s Convenience is a light-hearted comedy featuring a Korean couple who own a convenience store, along with Janet, their artistic daughter, and Jung, their estranged son. The show doesn’t shy away from the cultural adjustment that Asian parents often struggle with or the cultural barrier between immigrant parents and their kids. It accurately depicts the feeling of familial piety many Asian kids struggle with while balancing it with tasteful humor and funny plots. 

Never Have I Ever follows high school student Devi Vishwakumar as she navigates grief after her father’s passing, a million AP classes, and a complicated love life. Devi’s bubbly personality, rebellious acts, and hilarious one-liners make her more than just another stereotypical nerdy Asian. 

The critically acclaimed Everything Everywhere All at Once (2023) explores a Chinese family and the endless lives they could’ve lived. This film examines mother-daughter dynamics through the lens of immigrants’ hopes and dreams. 

Stereotypical

Though Cho Chang isn’t a prominent character in the Harry Potter series, her portrayal perpetuates the “passive Asian” stereotype. She’s little more than a side character. Plus, her name is a mix of Chinese and Korean surnames… 

Emily in Paris has been criticized for its stereotypes of French people. The show’s representation of Asians isn’t much better. Mindy was added to diversify the show, but her character doesn’t feel authentic. Although she’s supposed to be a mainland Chinese character, Mindy only speaks broken, incomprehensible Chinese.

The infamous XO Kitty went viral for its inaccurate portrayal of Korean culture. Korean netizens claimed that the show had many cultural blunders like a hotel heir buying casual brand products and a girl being sent to a boys’ dormitory because her last name was Song, even though girls and boys share that surname. 

Little mistakes like incorrect names, generic characterization, and unrealistic circumstances add up. If filmmakers include Asian characters in their works, they should do it right. Taking time to learn culture-specific names and customs instead of relying on century-old stereotypes is worth it. 

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