All posts tagged: Asian American

Theater Review: Allegiance

Last weekend, my husband and I (and some blogger friends) headed up to New York to catch one of the first Broadway performances of Allegiance, a musical based on George Takei’s experiences during his family’s internment under Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. That’s right, a musical about the U.S. government’s internment of its Japanese American citizens. Despite the devastating subject matter, the play is…er…hilarious. And joyful. And uplifting. This is of course the genius of Takei himself who, although the only actor in the production who was himself one of the 120,000 Japanese Americans interned, simply cannot play a role that is without humor. The whole experience was a bit surreal – I was aware of the details of the Japanese American internment, but it’s emotionally challenging (to say the least) to be asked to imagine a situation in which your own government is willing to systematically round up its citizens on the sheer basis of their race. And yet the emotional entry point for the audience is so simple: a family, with typical family problems, caught up in the larger drama around them. Sammy Kimura (Telly …

Theater Review: The Wong Street Journal

I adore funny women. My list of favorites is endless: Mindy Kaling, Ellie Kemper, Jessica Williams, Margaret Cho, Tina Fey, and so forth and so on. Kristina Wong, the pioneering educator who previously informed us that Asian vaginas cure racism, is one of my favorite comedic performers (I’m interrupting a hardcore Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. marathon to write this piece, if that gives you an impression of how much I admire this woman).

Book Review: Blackbird Fly

I read Blackbird Fly, the debut novel by Erin Entrada Kelly, at the recommendation of the author’s cousin (hi John!). I actually finished the book a few weeks ago, so I’m late with this review – it’s been a crazy few weeks for me! On the plus side, I have now seen Avengers: Age of Ultron twice, and I am officially DONE with grad school as of this weekend. Blackbird Fly (aimed at middle school readers) tells the story of Apple, a Filipino American girl living in Louisiana with her mother. Apple is best friends with Alyssa and Gretchen, but when Apple ends up on the “dog log”, a malicious list of the ugliest girls in school created by the meanest boys in school, relationships begin to change. Apple’s escape is an old Beatles’ cassette tape of her father’s. Her dream is to learn to play the guitar and create music like George Harrison, her favorite Beatle – if only she can convince her musically-skeptical mother to buy her a guitar. Apple’s story took me (against my will) back to middle school and …

TV Review: Fresh Off The Boat (season 1 finale)

The success of Fresh Off The Boat is personal. I’m not Asian American, but I have two primary points of investment: 1) My husband predicted that the show would be terrible and never be renewed, and I love it when he’s wrong (he’s capitulated on the first statement). 2) It represents people I love. There will probably never be a sitcom about a family that looks like mine. Mixed families are very specific, and television has only ever bothered to showcase an Asian American family twice in as many decades. Maybe my future children can watch sitcoms like The McCarthys and Fresh Off The Boat and see part of themselves represented in each. (Big Hero 6 is going to popular in this house). I love Fresh Off The Boat, not only because I think the adults are hilarious, the children are adorable, and the stories are entertaining, but also because I love watching my husband relate to a family in an American sitcom for the first time in his life. The sound of my husband’s laughter is the best sound in the world to me. It’s worth ten seasons of any show. …

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You

Celeste Ng’s first novel, Everything I Never Told You, opens with the death of Lydia Lee. Her surviving family, who collectively idolized sixteen-year-old Lydia, struggle to make sense of her death in a collection of flashbacks and subsequent narratives. The story draws a sharp line in the sand – before death, and after. The divide works well as a temporal device, keeping the reader oriented, but it works thematically as well, examining the faulty structures of the Lee family as it comes crashing down around them. Despite the dark subject matter, Ng’s prose is light, engaging, encouraging the reader to read on – Ng is the type of author to bring along to the beach and effortlessly lose yourself in for a few hours. The novel is a page-turner, but not in the traditional sense. This is no whodunit mystery. Rather, Lydia’s death is contextualized in the history of the family’s complex relationships. Before marriage, James Lee was a young, Chinese American professor desperate to fit in, his wife-to-be a Caucasian woman eager to stand out as a woman in the male-dominated medical profession. Like so …

TV Review: The Mindy Project (season 3 finale)

At the end of season 3 of The Mindy Project, Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and Danny Costellano (Chris Messina) are expecting their first child (who saw THAT coming in season 1?). In the season 3 finale episode, when Danny fails to make it to a going away party for Mindy’s parents, Mindy reveals that she has not, in fact, informed her parents of Danny’s existence. The finale feels like a gleeful middle finger to Kaling’s critics. The episode includes a hilarious reunion of all the white men Mindy has seriously dated (“the Manhattan meat train”), and while the episode is centered around Lahiri’s family (and even includes scenes of Lahiri in a stunning sari), it never actually depicts her Indian American parents onscreen. I don’t want to give away the ending, as it’s one of the best I’ve seen in a sitcom finale, but it certainly takes The Mindy Project farther than it’s ever been before. The criticism directed towards the show (largely based on the fact that Lahiri apparently dates only white men) has bothered me for a while, for many reasons. Mostly, however, …