You know, Parks and Recreation is one of my favorite shows for many reasons, and especially in showing empowerment for women, but I'm disappointed to see that it generally tends to have negative representations of Asian women. They're either props, arm candy, in highly inappropriate relationships (young Asian woman married to a very elderly man, agitating and creating friction within the protagonist's fiance's family) or is sexualized in some weird way (Michelle Wie and Councilman Jamm's whole Asian themed house). I'm searching for some kind of redemption, but not finding much. I guess I'm especially disappointed because I believe it to be one of the few shows that actually actively supports and projects healthy messages to society. I expected more.
This is an excerpt from an excellent article about the lack of real roles for Asian-American women:
"What’s the big deal?
The big deal is this: things may be better for Asian actors on TV, but that’s a pretty low bar no matter how you slice it. We have come a long way, but as of the most recent Screen Actor’s Guild diversity study, (and that was way back in 2008), “only 3.8 percent of all television and theatrical roles were portrayed by Asian Pacific Islander actors” compared to the “6.4 percent portrayed by Latino actors, 13.3 percent portrayed by African Americans, and 72.5 percent portrayed by Caucasian actors.” With numbers improving in the past six years, that’s not so hot for the **fastest-growing race or ethnic group in the United States.** Even shows that are hailed for their effortless diversity, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Orange Is the New Black, are either entirely lacking Asian characters or falling prey to disappointing stereotypes. So every absence, every loss of a Park, an Oh, or an Ushkowitz means more.
Ideally, roles like this will continue to grow, but it’s entirely possible that we can’t shift all the blame onto endemic racism in Hollywood. A recent study of immigrant cultures in Los Angeles explored why Asian parents discourage their children from pursuing the arts. The study offers up the idea that Asian children are encouraged to choose careers where success is objectively, rather than subjectively, obtained as a safeguard against, well, discrimination. The conclusion of the article is that in order to dissolve discrimination in artistic fields, more and more Asian children should be encouraged to explore and excel in those riskier fields. How else will we find the next Sandra Oh or Mindy Kaling?"