Sunday, October 25, 2015

Asians on TV: Why you should be watching 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend;' Asian male stereotype gets beat down

ONE OF THE best new shows on television is kind of funny ... kind of interesting ... kind of unusual ... kind of crazy, but wholly entertaining.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend enters the season as one of themes talked about hits in the industry. The question is, will industry buzz translate into audience viewership?

Crazy ex-Girlfriend (on CW)  is so different in so many ways, that may be its downfall, but it is also that same quality that made me record it on my DVR every Monday night.

For me, the biggest draw factor is that its leading man is a Filipino/American: Josh Chan played by Daly City-raised Vincent Rodriguez III. Josh is the object of obsession for the ex-girlfriend Rebecca Bunch played by break-out star Rachel Bloom.

Bloom, who is also the show's producer, is the vortex of the musical comedy which centers around her pursuit of Josh. She sings, she dances, she's a comedic actress whose career is certain to blossom even if this show doesn't take off.

Yes, it is a musical comedy and the audience might have difficulty suspending belief when  performers break into song and dance.That might explain the show's slow start.

However, like all good musicals, the musical numbers are interwoven into the storyline so they're essential to understand the characters' motives.

Vincent Rodriguez, romantic lead
There was much ado last year when we all hoped that John Cho would be the first Asian/American romantic leading man on television and we were all disappointed when his show, Selfie, was cancelled prematurely. Unlike Selfie, wherein the lead characters are equals and each struggles with the budding relationship and we had hoped, ending in love; Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, as the title suggests pursues the Asian dude, the object of her love/obsession.

Almost without fanfare, (the CW must have a low budget for fanfare) along comes the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend introducing us to Josh Chan as played by Rodriguez.
“There’s such a crazy parallel between my character, Josh Chan, and who I am as a person,” he told the Inquirer, a Philippine newspaper. “From Josh’s personality, his family and friends, and how he grew up–it’s kind of scary.”
Josh Chan is basically “a SoCal Asian bro,” said Rodriguez. Coming from a family of mixed parents (Filipino, Chinese, and Spanish, just like Rodriguez), Josh–the one that got away–is also finding his place in reality and romance. 
“You’re going to meet Josh Chan, find out that he’s Filipino, and see his family values,” Rodriguez shared. “The Chan family dynamic is very true to form–it feels very real to my own family.”
Therein is my excitement. In a roundabout way, you can say the Filipino/American Chans will be the third Asian/American family portrayed on American television this season, joining  the Taiwanese/American family of Fresh Off The Boat and the Chinese/American family of Dr. Ken

Rodriguez' role is more than just being "the Asian guy" on a television show. It was not a color-blind casting where the best talent gets the role. From the start, the love-interest was always intended to be an Asian boyfriend.

“We always wanted the male lead to be Asian because I grew up with Asian bros, and I hadn’t seen that represented on TV,” said Bloom, who is also one of the show's creators.

YES! ... bro.'

The 26-year old Rodriguez, who has extensive stage experience in Here Lies Love and pre-Broadway show Hunchback of Notre Dame, will get a chance to exhibit his considerable talents in the third episode of the season this Monday, Oct. 26 when he'll be featured in a musical number.

It is so unique, clever, entertaining, and really funny in a cutting-edge sort of way. For us Asian/Americans, it is also historic. If you haven't seen Crazy Ex-Girlfriend yet, you owe it to yourself to watch it, bro.'

Spoiler Alert: Vincent Rodriguez character gets to make up a boy-band all by himself this Monday
 in episode 3 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

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