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.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!