A TASTE OF THE ORIENT
It’s December 26th and It’s a Wonderful Life has worn out its black-and-white rerun welcome. Flipping through the channels, you look for something new. Anything new. Ok. If not new, then anything that you haven’t watched more than three times…this week. Time to bring in 2007 and leave behind all the reruns of Christmas past. There’s only so many times you can watch A Christmas Story, after all.
Something new is now here, and it’s not what you would expect. First off, it’s on PBS (though there are talks amongst other networks seriously considering snatching this baby up) and it airs December 26th through January 24th. This new pilot (directed by Charlotte Sometimes helmer Eric Byler) may be the best and most originally optimistic “teen angst” series on the boob-tube since Dawson’s Creek.
The story revolves around two pubescent sisters, Kimberlee and Aimee Fung (played by Di Quon and Karin Anna Cheung respectively) who—after Dad’s laid-off—are forced to move from their upscale lifestyle in San Francisco to help out the family business at (a-hem) “A Touch of the Orient” in Bakersfield.
They are forced to jump into a new high school mid-year where the sisters are two of only a scant handful of Asian-Americans. Nothing like their old school where they were amongst a wider and more diverse make-up of ethnic backgrounds (it was Frisco, after all). Now, not only are they the “new girls,” they are the “new Asian girls.”
What is brilliant about this writing is its willingness to poke fun at Asian stereotypes without compromising the integrity of the culture and family bonds that everyone behind the show, My Life…Disoriented, obviously values—even if it means taking jabs about MSG usage while doing so.
Writer Claire Lee Yorita was quoted as saying, “In the past, television lacked Asian-American characters, and when a show did have one—and I do mean one—they were often the insignificant token minority or some sort of stereotype.” This subtle ad hominem reads as true in comparison to the two leads in My Life… who contend with many of the same teen-angst issues as similar shows with more of a cookie-cutter role for our friends to the Far East.
Exhibiting the concept that the “Asian kid” does not necessarily have to be the level-headed best friend or clichéd caricature of the “math whiz” sitting in the back row, these two actresses more than prove the point that they can carry the show on their own regardless of race or other discriminating component. More than a sappy teenage drama, My Life… grants us a glimpse of high school through the eyes of two very different sisters and their experiences of both being stereotyped and accepted at their new school with a Mean Girls kind of self-inflicted awareness.
This is truly Must-See PBS-TV.
Visit www.MyLifeDisoriented.com for dates and times.