When reading comedian and actor Aziz Ansari’s essay for the “New York Times,” I couldn’t help but stake my claim on covering the essay on What’s Trending – because I feel like I, along with many other first generation Americans, have lived Aziz’s story. Of course, we’re not all releasing a brand new series on Netflix, but ask any Asian person and the likelihood that they remember the first time they saw an Asian person in a show or movie is pretty high. If not, the first Asian person in media that has affected them in some way. I remember for myself, and probably most other people my age, it was probably Jonathan Ke Quan in “The Goonies” or Jackie Chan in “Rush Hour.”
Ansari’s essay talks about the progress that television has made today, with shows like “Fresh Off The Boat” and “Empire” doing well. Which is great, and I will sit and make time to watch shows like “Fresh Off The Boat” and “Dr. Ken” which revolve around Asian families, to keep shows like that around for as long as possible. Shows that have Asian women as strong, charismatic leads – not some submissive stereotype. I also commend actors like Steven Yeun, Daniel Dae Kim, Kihong Lee, and John Cho who have helped changed the stereotype of the reserved Asian man.
I think Aziz’s essay is worth the read, and his new series “Master of None” is worth the watch. Ansari has been receiving generous praise for the second episode of the series – exploring his character and Kelvin Yu’s character’s parents journey to America. Watching that episode hit home. I remember having that moment with my father’s side of the family 2 years ago, when my grandmother died. I remember reading the little pamphlet about her at her funeral, and realizing I never knew that she had actually lost a child before coming here. That even though the Vietnam War ended in 1975, she wasn’t reunited with all her kids until 1993, the year I was born. I remember asking my dad and my aunts about their journey here, and them remembering about having to try multiple times to reach a free country, and laughing about one of their boats being boarded and raided by Thai pirates. I remember that’s the moment that I decided that no matter what happens in my life, it will never even be a fraction as difficult as theirs.
My dad took off most of his vacation time for the year to act in Master of None. So I’m really relieved this all worked out. Tonight after we did Colbert together he said: “This is all fun and I liked acting in the show, but I really just did it so I could spend more time with you.” I almost instantly collapsed into tears at the thought of how much this person cares about me and took care of me and gave me everything to give me the amazing life I have. I felt like a total piece of garbage for all the times I haven’t visited my parents and told them I wanted to stay in New York cause I’d get bored in SC. I’m an incredibly lucky person and many of you are as well. Not to beat a dead horse here and sorry if this is cheesy or too sentimental but if your parents are good to you too, just go do something nice for them. I bet they care and love you more than you realize.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to the Parents episode of our show. What’s strange is doing that episode and working with my parents has increased the quality of my relationship to my parents IN MY REAL LIFE. In reality, I haven’t always had the best, most open relationship with my parents because we are weirdly closed off emotionally sometimes. But we are getting better. And if you have something like that with your family – I urge you to work at it and get better because these are special people in your life and I get terrified when my dad tells me about friends of his, people close to his age, that are having serious health issues, etc. Enjoy and love these people while you can.
Anyway, this show and my experiences with my parents while working on it have been very important in many ways and I thank for you the part you all have played in it.