Sunday, August 6, 2017

'The Good Doctor' will have two Asian/American doctors

WELL, look at this: A hospital-based TV show that will feature at least two doctors of Asian descent!

Irene Keng
In the upcoming series, The Good Doctor, Tamlyn Tomita will play Dr. Allegra Aoki and Irene Keng will portray Dr. Sarah Chen. (Interestingly, Keng's character was initially named Dr. Elle McLean. The name change more accurately reflects the character's ethnicity.)

There isn't a whole lot of information on their characters or how big a role their characters will play in the plotlines. The trailer accompanying this article is of no help.

One of my pet peeves has been medical shows based in big cities without any Asian staff, much less have a role with dialog. Yes, I'm talking about Grey's Anatomy that is supposed to be based in Seattle. Since Sandra Oh left with her character, Dr. Cristina Yang, the hospital has had a conspicuous absence of Asian staff.
Tamlyn Tomit

Because of the shortage of medical personnel in the U.S., hospitals began encouraging foreign-traned medical workers to immigrate to this country. Coupled with the fact that Asian parents still think that a career in the medical field is highly prized and still encourage their kids to go into one of the health care professions. As a result, it's hard to walk down a hospital corridor without running into an Asian/American in most urban hospitals in the U.S.  Very few of the medical shows reflect this reality.

Tomita has had a long career with a host of roles. Perhaps she is best known for her roles in Karate Kid 2  an in The Joy Luck Club.

Compared to Tomita, Keng is a relative newcomer. She had a role in Grey's Anatomy playing an intern in Season 11.

Having not one, but two Asian/American doctors is a rarity in U.S. TV. It might have helped having an Asian/American, Daniel Dae Kim, in a decisiono-making role as executive producer. He fell in love with the original Korean series and helped bring the concept to the U.S. 

He left his role with Hawaii Five-0 over a pay dispute that sparked an examinatopm of CBS efforts to diversify its programming.

"All good things come to an end. I close that chapter on Hawaii Five-0 and I begin this new chapter on The Good Doctor," said Kim. 

Kim told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour Sunday that he is content serving as an exec producer on The Good Doctor but has had talks with producers about a potential onscreen role as well. "I'm really content being behind the scenes on this show," Kim said. 

“It’s in good hands of David (Shaw) and the cast… I’m constantly impressed by the performances. It’s been fascinating for me to watch their work as a producer, said Kim ... "At some point I’d love to play with them.”

Despite Tomita's lengthy resume, the lead actor is Freddie Highmore, who starred in TV's just concluded Bates Motel.

Yep! A white guy. How did this happen? Korean source material. Check. Korean/American executive producer. Check. Some things take a little longer to change.

The Good Doctor premieres on Sept. 25 on ABC.