Hyphen magazine - Asian American arts, culture, and politics


The Debut of K-Town: Come And Get Your Cousins

I admit, I was excited about the possibilities when K-Town was announced in 2010. A show about Asian Americans partying and working out and drunk-crying and gossiping about each other? It would be a show about my own family on a national stage! Finally the rest of America would accept us as equally fun-loving and dysfunctional as they are! We could finally move beyond the model minority myth!

Well, it looks like we're not quite there yet.

I watched the first two episodes (now available on Youtube's LOUD Channel), and while it was just short of unbearably awful (I did finish both episodes, after all), I still stand by the initial assessment I wrote on this very blog two summers ago: I don't think we're in any danger of falling victim to new stereotypes -- at least not because of this show.

Most notably because, from my admittedly limited perspective, K-Town hasn't quite lived up to the hype. Trust me, I know I'm clearly not part of the target demographic here. Reality shows really aren't my steez, and I may already be too old to understand that kids really do watch YouTube like regular TV. But the fact is, many people had long forgotten about the show by the time it hit the street, and it debuted on the internet to little fanfare -- the drama behind which you can read in Jeff Yang's Tao Jones column.

The show is awful in the way I think all reality shows are, because the conversations were so obviously staged and I'm naive enough to think reality shows are not supposed to be this way. And at its best, K-Town is gut-wrenchingly hilarious. At one point, Jowe actually goes around introducing himself to girls as "The Prince of K-Town," and Jasmine calls a poor unsuspecting dude Colonel Sanders to his face. Neither the mundane conversations nor the most scandalous moments come off very authentic, so it's hard to take the show too seriously.

But it also wasn't as wild and crazy as I'd hoped it would be. On the one hand, it didn't seem real at all; on the other, it was almost too real to be interesting. It was a bunch of footage of Asian Americans sitting around drinking and being drunk, which was pretty much a regular Saturday night in my mid-20's, pre-motherhood. Even the husband admitted it felt like somebody had just brought a camera to a regular outing with his fam.

Sure, K-Town may be groundbreaking in that probably no Asian American had ever before been shown on national television throwing a drink on somebody. However, I don't think the show has enough traction yet to do much damage to the community as a whole. We had critiqued it and expressed our hopes and dreams of what the show would be within the context of national television, but it's not quite there. It doesn't seem to be making the kind of splash we'd all anticipated, and the verdict is still out on whether that's a good or bad thing.

Feel free to draw your own conclusions in the comments.

6 comments

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LTE wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

The next public image award is...

"but I hope that in the future this is looked back as a door opening for something better."
.
Sort of like what Snookie did for Italian-Americans and New Jersey?

one mo' Kim wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

ktown

the show is funny for sure. to be honest it has potential, but the characters come off as too plastic. They failed when they decided to cast people from the same social pool. That alone gave the show little depth without so it made having a cast member to cling to impossible.

Though an Asian-American reality show would be great. Of course with my cousin whose half black/korean as the wildcard. ke ke. peace

_little_tara_ wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

K-town <3

I have watched all 3 episodes of k-town TWICE. I love the show. It's not too different than any other human being partying so idk why people are so surprised that "Asian Americans" party lol, but it's cool to see how they do their thing etc. Il cha, ee cha etc etc. I <3 Asians so I'm happy to see this show. I really can't believe that it ISN'T on TV as it has ALL the ingredients, if not to be on E!, to be on VH1 or something! K-town keep doin your thing. I want to come visit you! ;p

Eric wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

stereotypes

It's interesting because I think for most non-Asian people, K-Town challenges the still-prevalent stereotypes about Asian-Americans as perpetual-foreigners, demure, quiet, model minorities, etc.

On the other hand, it absolutely confirms many of the stereotypes held by many Asian-Americans of Koreans and Korean-Americans as alcoholic, loud, alcoholic and vacuous.

I guess I was hoping for something more nuanced (realizing at the same time that this IS reality TV). Does the entire season take place in one day? It seems SO one note. I'm always glad to see representations of American culture reflect our diversity and will watch the rest of the series but I hope that in the future this is looked back as a door opening for something better.

LTE wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

Great dental work but would you take her home to mom?

Looking at the picture of that girl with her mouth wide open has left me emotionally scarred for life.

laura wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

Initially I was very

Initially I was very skeptical of this show, but after watching the episodes, it has actually grown on me. I think this is because at the end of the day, it's good to simply see more Asian Americans being represented in media. Sure, there's the worry of stereotype this and stereotype that, but I can't help it...the cockles of my heart are warmed by seeing these people be their crazy (scripted) selves JUST LIKE we see white people do all the time on TV! (Asians: We can be trashy and entertaining too!) I guess that puts me in the anything-is-better-than-nothing camp, with the exception of serial killers and the like.

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About The Author

Theresa Celebran Jones

Theresa Celebran Jones was born and raised in Connecticut and has moved cross-country four times. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two young daughters. She works full-time as a technical writer and is an MFA dropout. Her only other hobbies are reading, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and listening to hip hop. Clearly she has no social life.

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