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April 05, 2009

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jstele

Americans are willing to watch a real life Asian looking dad. Just look at "Jon and Kate Plus Eight". It's very popular, so don't sell yourself short on the deal. Don't take less money just to get an Asian lead. Know what it's worth.

Juliette

It's very easy for other people to sit on their couches and say, "YES, You MUST push for keeping the lead character Asian-American."

However, I think it would be stupid to jeopardize the chances of the sitcom being aired. What if that money paid for the Peanut's education? Or allowed you to quit work and pursue your dreams?

VW

hey MD

greetings from singapore. i love your blog and how truly funny it is. im not surprised you have offers for a sitcom at all! i mean its definitely a show i would watch every week!

ever thought of casting yourself as the lead? frankly, i think its time the rest of the world have an asian lead in an american sitcom. i mean i watch almost all the american sitcoms and i live in singapore! so its not just for America and how the American audience feels/thinks.

go for it! very goodlooking asian guy please

sarah

Funny you should mention racism. I just got back from a vacation to Cabo where I stayed at a less than stellar all-inclusive resort with some friends. All of us are Korean. Starting from day 1, a group of Caucasians referred to 2 of our guys as "Harold and Kumar" saying things like, "Hey Harold! Kumar! Come to White Castle!" or just yelling "Harold! Kumar!" at them whenever they'd walk by. At one point, "Kumar"'s wife yelled back "His name's not Kumar!" and one of them had the gall to say "Well, he looks like him." Right...That had my blood boiling but I chose to keep my mouth shut to prevent causing a scene. Then, the pool activity director was leading out a beer drinking game and when one of our guys went up to participate, he suggests to the audience that we all count 1-2-3 in Chinese...except he just said random sounds (Something like Ching Gong Fan!) instead of actually saying it in Chinese. UGH.
Even though we live in 2009, I still encounter racism/ignorance. It's pretty sad. Anyway, as for the network sitcom, I think that's awesome. If it does go through PLEASE keep the main character Asian! It just wouldn't be right otherwise. I hope it works out!

Kat

metrodad, i am a new reader to your blog, and find it hilarious! your stories need to be told, and i believe american will find it entertaining. i don't think you're going to be able to convinince the network to take the high road. persuading people who live in a bubble is hard. instead, you should speak in their language- $. America is craving new tv series (bc honestly, can we really watch another season of lost, or survivor, or the bachelor?) Keeping your character authentic, makes business sense.

H

politically speaking it's awesome that you're in a position to even think about fighting to create an asian american lead, but thinking practically, could you write as effectively from the point of view of someone not asian? i don't mean to pigeon-hole you, but your content is very asian-centric, and i feel that asianness is central to a lot of your appeal to me.

Kelly

I can't say what would make or break the show or give any sort of assvice about that, but I can say that I'd be much more likely to watch it if the main character were Asian. You're a very funny writer, and your stories about Peanut are awesome, but a big part of what makes reading your blog so enjoyable is edge that your upbringing and different cultural experiences adds to what you write. A White MetroDad could be funny but would likely be dumbed down for a mainstream audience. An Asian MetroDad would have a slightly different target audience and wouldn't have to be dumbed down.

Jenny

You know why we don't see more Asian-Americans on television? Because this country still has a lot of rednecks out there (like your mover friend.)

That's why we see all these depictions of families centered around blue-collar buffoons married to hot women (like "According to Jim" or "King of Queens")

Papa Bradstein

First, I have to disagree with momomax: You are THAT funny.

And if you can carry that humor into a sitcom, which is hard because writers, producers, sponsors, blah, blah, blah...nobody will notice that the cast is Asian.

Also, if you strike out with the networks for whatever reason, think of other channels. Networks tend to be run by older (Oriental is a Rug) folks, but online media tends to be run by younger folks who don't care about race.

The payoff likely isn't as large for online-only, so I would use it as a fallback position, but you could develop your audience there and transition.

And, whatever works out...congratu-damn-lations.

Rachel E.

Oriental: My 83-old dad calls Asians "oriental" and African-Americans "colored". I'm always so mortified by it but I know he doesn't mean it in a derogatory way at all. It's just a generational thing.

Asian stereotypes in the media: Watch Keeping the Faith. A so-so movie but it includes a scene with an Asian karaoke machine salesman. I think of you everytime I see it because I think it would make you laugh. The dude does this whole offensive Asian stereotypical accent and clueless thing but then turns it around in the scene to show he's just a typical American. "I got a little piece of ass last night."

Asian girls not dating Asians: One of my best friends from high school is Filipino and she refused to date other Filipinos. She had a real hang-up about it and was never really able to explain it. HER PARENTS didn't want her to date Filipinos! They wanted her to marry a white guy and really pushed her on this. She ended up marrying an Italian-American making all of her parents' dreams come true.

Rednecks as a minority: Not here in god-forasken Georgia.

Sitcom: I absolutely think the dad should be Asian! I think that it's a big part of what should be embraced about the character. Whenever you talk of your parents and upbringing as an Asian-American, it's a big part of what makes you interesting and funny.

Jun Zuniga (Ka_Jun)

Damn, MD, on the warpath this morning. I like it. My unsolicited advice, everyone sells out, be different. I mean, aren't they remaking "Full House" with that guy from America's Funniest Home Videos, again? I think Bob Saget has enough work already without him depicting you, MD. America is primed for something different. In many ways, and I'm sure it's intentional, your micro posts flow into one another. You may have to "eat it" when it comes to a street fight with Mr. Knife in the Belt, Cooter, and his illustrious progeny (I feel you, here. I too, am an APA dad and cursing out some ignorant Deputy Enis in the street while wearing my Blacklava Vincent Chin tee in front of my boys is probably not today's suggested course of action), but why sell out? You have an opportunity to break stereotypes, not only for us old dudes, but for our kids. I would be saddened if my boys said when they grew up that dating an Asian American would be like dating their sister or brother. I would internalize that and consider that a personal failure, on my part.

"I just wanted to say that, for an Asian guy, you're very good looking."

Oh, an that statement above is just some unadulterated 100% proof, uncut, ignorant shit. Her shit paved with gold or shoot lightning, or something?

Janice

I love your writing style and sense of humor, MD. I've always thought your material would make a great sitcom. Best of luck with it.

OM

I was once in a friends elevator and there was a notice that read, "To the person who stole our small oriental from the shared foyer please return it immediately". I thought to myself, is this crime considered kidnapping?

Just kidding, but seriously this is a high end old school building filled with what is perceived as educated wasps. So I was not too surprised. I did take the notice to show my friend and he just cracked up saying "that lady is insane". But he knew exactly who it was.

Dude, sell the f^(k out with the show, book, etc. Who cares, get the paper. If it bothers you so much then donate half the money you make to a Oriental rug company, buy a Ming vase or have Jackie Chan entertain as you light some Cuban cigars with some Yen :)

In regards to race, people don't joke about it enough. The nickname I use for my wife, who is extremely pale and one of the whitest (in terms of personality) people you'll meet, is Snowflake. I'm darker and she calls me her A-Rab, before all Arabs get upset, I have an Yemenite background. When we travel she always jokes that she should go ahead of me in line because she wants to make the flight.

Keep it humorous because that's all race issues should be. They're funny issues not serious and if people joked about it more they wouldn't truly hate as much. Just my opinion.

Love the blog, keep up the good work.

Alysa

"Even scarier was his 300 lb. son who looked like the illegitimate love child of Sasquatch and Australopithecus."

Bwahaha...for some reason, that line made me snort coffee out of my nose.

Dave

I actually think the show would be much better with an AA lead. It would deepen it and make it a lot more interesting. I've enjoyed learning a little about Korean families and the funny things that come up being sort of caught between cultures. I think some of what makes you a good dad is both the positive influence of your parents' Korean upbringing, and your insight and sense of humor regarding human nature. That's the chemistry that makes your blog so much fun. I'm not sure how that translates into TV, but I'm positive that there would be a rabid niche market among not only second generation Asian-Americans, but also bright people with a wry perspective on the world.

I work at a high school as a psychologist and have had occasion to talk to several of our Korean students. My girls are adopted form China and I have their pictures all over my office. It sort of gives me sort of an "honorary Asian" status and makes people less defensive in talking about their trans-cultural (if that's a real word) issues. I think the tone would have to be set right, so as not to seem too smirky and belittling of old-country Korean parenting, but still not keep that kind of humor off limits. I can't stand it when people make (usually well intentioned) generalizations about my daughters, based on their Asian ancestry. I kind of think a sort of Margaret Cho meets the Cosby's sort of show, as long as it maintained the Metrodad chemistry, would be a huge hit. I think a lot of knuckle-heads were kind of lightened up by the Cosby show, and I'd love to have that happen for Asians. Most importantly, however, I'd really, really like to watch it.

Another bit of chemistry I'm sure you've thought about: many guys are very lonely and, for one reason or another, don't have enough male friends, or have shallow stereotyped same-sex friendships. I have to admit that's a part of the reason I like your blog. It's nice to hear a guy talk about something other than sports bullshit or cars. I think it's not just dorks like me, but a lot of guys out there who are starving for good buddies.

Dave

Maddie

Delurking to say that one thing I've always admired about your blog is the wide audience of readers. There's something about your writing that resonates among many different types of people. Since a lot of what you write tends to be about being an Asian-American dad, I don't see why anyone would want to change that.

Gina

I've been told I was "hot for an Asian girl" countless times and I hated it. That's one reason I don't actively seek out white guys anymore. Congratulations on the potential sitcom and book deal, you deserve it. Like angryasianman said, Peanut should play herself! She'll be even cuter than the "i'm a pc" kid.

sheng

Well I doubt they'll ever put a Asian guy in the leading role, but they probably would put a Asian woman as the wife role LOL.

sheng

Best way to get a asian guy to play the lead role is, always have his face obscured with objects when he is facing the camera or shot from the back etc..

maybe until second season when you get the general public hook on the show, then show what race the guy is.

Jason

Take the money and run!

Julie Kang

You know, I thought about your TV character, and _maybe_ you can get away with your character being white, black, whatever race...but for God's sake, man, The Peanut _needs_ to be a quirky, sassy little Korean girl!!!

How else can you portray the story of you guys crossing the street because you have to "LISTEN TO THE WHITE MAN!" And the guy staring at you like, "What in the hell are you teaching this poor child?" Or the underage Chinese gymnast costume? Sigh, that still cracks me up.

jules

Do you know what I'd pay to see your Asian leprechaun story play out on a sitcom? I think you could get away with an Asian lead-especially if the daughter was as adorable as the Peanut.

Dave

I think you should do whats best for you. Just because you hire an Asian American lead does not automatically make him more qualified to portray you and your experiences. Yes, he will look like you but that's about it. We are all individuals and as much as I would like to see an Asian American lead on network television, I wouldn't want to sacrifice quality for a political/social statement.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying Asian American actors aren't quality. I think you should definitely ask that all races be considered in casting but lets not be exclusive. If you feel like your Korean American upbringing is so vital that no non Korean could relay it on the tube, then by all means push for a Korean American lead. But if that's not the case, then you should push for quality, whatever race they may be.

eunice t.

someone's gotta be the first to try... and it'd be great that you're the one!

I've been steadily reading your blog for years now, and race issue aside, i've always wondered what it'd be like if your blog turned into a tv show! It's half-way to being reality!

Leanne Koh

everyone's already said it. make your mark on the industry. Look at Jon and Kate, everyone loves watching them, i think we'd all love watching a sitcom based on you, an Asian American. keep up the fight!

Xdm

There are already too many lame-ass sitcoms about white middle-America families, daughter makes-out with boy, gets caught by dad, hilarity ensues. If any programming executives are out there.. "I DON'T WATCH." But an Asian-Am in NYC? Sign me up. It's seems to be common sense -- a huge untapped tv viewing market. It can only BE an Asian-Am lead.

Sophia Lee

I think Asian-American women who refuse to even consider dating an Asian-American man suffer from self-loathing. You're right. You never hear that kind of comment from other people of color. Why Asian-Americans? I wish I knew.

HCG

stick to your guns, they need you more than you need them. there are SO many ways to develop something like this anyway.

go internet, go viral, go multinational.

Gloria

But MetroDad, part of your blog is about raising you, a successful Asian American dad, raising Peanut, the cutest Asian American daughter, in NYC! How would a non-Asian American be able to teach about what "Oriental" means and why it's offensive?

Please fight for the lead to be Asian American! It's such an integral part of this blog!!!!

Sam

Not much of a sitcom watcher (more like a movie buff), but I wish ye the very best with your show.

yhk

go w/ an AA lead.

as a AA woman, who's dated both Asian guys and white guys and every color in between, it's not self-loathing. a lot of it is about preference and what you're exposed to. and if a lot of AA men are calling you self-loathing or asking you w/in the first twelve minutes of meeting you if you only date white guys, it's off putting.

Kat

How are you gonna do the Chinese gymnast bit on tv if the characters aren't Asian?

Teresa

I've been reading your blog forever and I never considered this an Asian-American site. Sure, you talk about it every once in awhile but, more importantly, it's your whole perspective on life that I enjoy. I think your sense of humor is pretty widespread and not just limited to observations about AA fatherhood.

Jason

HAHA! I'd watch that shit! Especially if the TAE is covered, because that is a funny thing EVERY parent needs to see. As long as the main character isn't that dumb hubby we see all the damn time! I hate that shit, it makes me feel like we're second class citizens in the eyes of television.

In all honesty I let some shit slide with people of an older generation, because they were there when it was socially acceptable to use terms like that, the redneck dude, screw that douche, he had it coming.

Mary

That's a tough one.

In an ideal world, I would only want the TV MetroDAD to be a Korean American... but as we all know, this world is not ideal and def. Hollywood is NOT ideal.

Mary

Plus, you couldn't have the episode where peanut dresses as an underage Chinese gymanst if she weren't Asian!

z

keep the lead asian. forget network and leverage for cable.

Monica

You're right. Nobody is going to know if America will accept an Asian lead in a comedy unless we try. I'd rather see you and your material try to cross that bridge than anyone else. Go for it, MD!

Jo

I agree, stick to your guns on the race card. Or at minimum, get someone who has some Asian blood, like Dean Cain. Many people wondered if America was ready for a black president, and look where we are now.

I am glad the Kimchi Mamas turned me on to your blog--you are really funny. If the studios turn you down now, then you'll just have to keep building your audience until they come back again and agree to your terms.

talonvaki

I agree with everyone else - MetroDad should be played by an Asian actor.

I was just talking to a friend about Margaret Cho's American Girl being ahead of it's time...I think that now is the perfect time for a Asian sitcom!

Daniel Dae Kim would be awesome, but John Cho is probably the best choice.

And I'm Northwest Asian (Russian) married to a Korean man. I have to agree with the other commenters that I am more attracted to Koreans than I am to, say, Swedes or Italians...

Oliver Wang

Pierre,

First of all, congrats - that's really remarkable and a testament to the quality of your site and writing.

Your question is a challenging one and as you probably well know, a constant dilemma that has faced Asian Americas in TV and movies since time immemorial. As someone who has a working Asian American actress in the family and knows many more who are "in the business," I'm absolutely sympathetic to the realities of trying to balance making a living vs. standing by your ideals and it's a shame that those two things are often seen as mutually exclusive.

This all said...I think you should push...nay...INSIST on an Asian American lead. For one thing, as others have noted, I don't really see how a MetroDad show would work if not reflective of the writer behind it, including his ethnicity since race is a big (though hardly sole) part of the blog's stories.

I would also add: if you were Latino or African American, it would be far more certain that any potential production team would also be thinking of casting a Black lead. It's interesting how Asian Americans are "replaceable" by non-Asians, no?

But on the reality tip, also consider that there are a gazillion shows that are pitched, a smaller gazillion of shows from which pilots are approved and filmed, and all that get whittled down to, what? A dozen shows or so in any given fall season? And look at what the networks have typically churned out over the last 10 years?

Which is to say - your show might have merit on principle but realistically speaking, the odds of it ever getting produced are miniscule. And so, if that's the case, why not make astronomical odds just a bit more astronomical by insisting on an "unconventional" casting?

After all, if it's folks like us who don't push for this, when is change ever going to happen? And how proud would you feel about your "creation" if it didn't, in fact, reflect YOU and your experiences, specifically as an Asian American dad, rather than just a "dad"?

(Just for kicks and giggles though, you could always suggest that they cast a White guy to play you but have the wife/mother cast as Asian. I guarantee the producers would be far more amendable to that but you might have to hide yourself from all the angry Asian men...and I'm not talking about Phil Yu!)

Michelle

I would LOVE to see that come through! I think you would be a huge success. Please keep writing until we can watch. :)

Margaret

Personally I wouldn't care if they kept the lead role Asian. The depiction of fathers in sitcoms is so pitiful these days. Any character that is even slightly based on you would be a vast improvement. And. as you've shown on this blog, would be funny as hell.

Cristina Hanganu-Bresch

DEFINITELY keep the characters Asian! It's about damn time! I think some parts of your story wouldn't entirely make sense otherwise, and you'd find yourself making changes that may in the long run compromise your message. I understand the pressure, of course, but I would TOTALLY watch this with Asian characters (on the other hand, knowing it's you, I would be weirded out seeing a show with non-Asian characters). Of course, it's going to be up to how charismatic the actor is, but isn't that always the case anyway?

jedifreac

Absolutely stand firm on the Asian American lead. After watching all the discrimination happening with the kid's movie Avatar:The Last Airbender movie (see: http://racebending.com) I'm learned that it's happening to a whole other generation of kids. I'm convinced that we need to insist on representation. Do not sell out.

As for the "dating your brother thing"--as an Asian American woman who has often gotten flak for dating white men, one thing that troubles me is that I've had plenty of Asian men yell at me for dating white men, yet literally no Asian men have ever asked me out . =/

Maggie

I would just like to see a sitcom about a dad who is not a complete idiot with his kids and married to a ridiculously tolerant woman who puts up with his total stupidity for no reason I can fathom. The powers that be are full of shit if they think making the characters on a sitcom about an intelligent man who is a good father and a good husband and also funny Asian would make me not want to watch. What makes me not want to watch is yet another show that makes men out to be complete and total family idiots and the women who married them idiots as well for dealing with that crap. UGH.

Carlos Frick

IMHO, if being Asian-American is such a definitive part of this blog, meaning that's the perspective where you write your articles from -and it seems to me that's the case- the sitcom would loose part of the essence of MetroDad. It might have the same name, but wouldn't be "MetroDad"

Nina

Reading the comments is nearly as interesting as the original post. I have to utterly disagree with Momomax, you are definitely that funny. (WTF?) I don't think all your humor originates from being Korean - that would just be dumb because there are plenty of very unfunny Koreans around. Me being one of them. But your experience as a KA adds depth, a sort of "outside looking in" ability to see the hilarity of people's behavior.

And two other things. While I'm proud of Margaret Cho's old show being the first show about an Asian American family, it was not a very funny show and too many of the jokes were based on poking fun at her mom's Asian accent. Your show would be so much better. Also...Dean Cain? Please no. He's good looking, but I don't see him as a funny guy at all. What about John Cho? Gotta love how we're making casting choices for you already, huh?

Randy

I think you should push for an Asian American male lead. The key is to make the humor something everybody can relate to: ie the challenges of being a Father. White America doesn't want to be lectured to. If they feel that diversity is being forced down their throats they will not watch it.

Look at Everybody Loves Raymond. That show got HUGE ratings based on the humor that revolved around family life. Ray Romano kinda slipped in the Italian stuff later.

As for Asian American women: Many of them seem to have a pathology about Asian men. I know of no other group of people so willing to disparage their own race.

If an Asian women dates a AA dude who is a jerk, she stops dating Asian guys.

If she dates a white guy who is a jerk, she stops dating jerks.

Noah

Of my 4 Asian-American male friends, one is married to a white woman, one is engaged to a white woman, one is dating an Asian-American woman, and one is celibate for religious reasons. So the reality on the ground may not match stereotypes or media representations!

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