Hyphen magazine - Asian American arts, culture, and politics


Hyphen TV: Never Say You're Tired

That is one smooth Turbanator

New show alert! Monday Mornings premiered last week (fittingly, on Monday), and not only is it based on the novel by CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, it also introduced us to two Asian American characters: Dr. Sydney Napur, played by Sarayu Rao, and Dr. Sung Park, played by Keong Sim (the eagle-eyed among you will recognize the latter as Mike Chang's dad on Glee). It really warms the cockles of my cold heart to see a medical show that's not only created and produced by an Indian American doctor, but also features two prominent Asian American leads and many Asian American background characters. How refreshing to not only see so many APAs at once, but to also see them representing a field that is FILLED with Asian Americans -- you don't get that too often on television (I'm not overlooking you, Sandra Oh and Daniel Henney -- RIP, Three Rivers).

So, what did we find out in the premiere? Dr. Park appears to be a brilliant but cold doctor who successfully executed a complicated brain surgery and has the bedside manner of a pitbull (and, I'm sorry Mr. Sim, but a simply atrocious Korean accent). The show's conceit is the examination of the way doctors make and deal with mistakes: Park, in this episode, is reprimanded for not looking for alternatives to his difficult procedure. We also see him get spoken to about his "language," a comment that raises his hackles and is not further explained -- is this a reference to his (fakely) broken English, his harsh manner with patients, or something else? We shall see.

Now this is what a hospital looks like

Dr. Napur is a fiercely committed doctor, who pushes herself to a nearly unhealthy degree, and we find out that it's because she's just broken up with her boyfriend...on the night he proposed. It's a story we've seen before: boy meets girl, girl spends all her time at work, boy leaves girl because he never sees her. Sydney deals by immersing herself even further into her work, raising the concern of her peers. In this episode, she figures out the mysterious conditions that have brought one patient back to the hospital again and again. I'm sure we'll get more of the backstory behind her romantic relationship, but I hope they don't go too far down the "I'm married to my job" path, since it's pretty familiar. Have you guys checked out this show yet?

Dr. Napur is Dr. Na-puretty...okay that was bad

In other news, Community came back after a long, weird hiatus. But hey, we should just be glad it's back, right? In the premiere, Abed played a fairly prominent role, creating a parallel storyline in his mind. As the gang begins senior year, Abed imagines a scenario in which they all stay at Greendale forever, never moving on to life beyond community college. Abed's always been the emotional center of the group, which is a bit odd considering his difficulty with exhibiting and understanding emotions. Still, it's nice to get another look into the Abed fantasy world and all the weirdness within it.

Abed goes to his happy alterna-universe

In the real world, we didn't see Chang at all until the very end of the episode, when he showed up nude and wet, handing a note to a mailman that said, "Hello. My name is Kevin. I have Changnesia." That guy loves not wearing clothes, doesn't he? Also, in the episode was the return of Annie Kim, Annie Edison's "multicultural evil twin." Annie K's killer instincts came out during this episode's Hunger Games-style battle, but, in the end, she wasn't able to convince Jeff to ditch his uninterested friends for her. I missed Annie Kim! Hope we see more of her this season.

 

Annie, looking as disheveled as we've seen her

Just wanted to mention real quick that a bunch of The Office's characters went to a nail salon in last week's Valentine's Day episode to take advantage of a couples discount. We got to see a whole bunch of Asian American nail ladies stereotypically giggle behind their hands. One woman (I think, played by Amy Hill -- IMDb does not confirm it, though) refused to give Oscar and Darryl, who were pretending to be a gay couple, the discount. Even after being told in Korean (and here I turn into my mom with her excitement over Korean spoken during prime time television) to just let it go, she refuses, and the men leave in an angry huff. Not the greatest portrayal of an Asian American business, but I'm happy that all those actresses got work.

On American Idol, it was Hollywood week, and this year they separated the guys from the girls. First up were the guys, who started out with a sudden death round; Nate Tao, Gurpreet "The Turbanator" Singh Sarin, and Bryant Tadeo (a sales associate from Hawaii) all made it through. When asked by the judges "How you doing today?," Bryant answered, "Stressed out...kind of tired," and Nicki Minaj pretended to send him home so that he could get the rest he wanted. Luckily, she told him it was a fake-out and that "You never say you're tired!" I think he learned a valuable lesson. Backstage, Bryant's mom said, "He's not going to be tired anymore!" Aww. Seriously though, they must all have been exhausted.

Nate really feels the music

...But not as tired as they were once they had to come together in groups. "Young Love" included Nate and Elijah Liu, an 18-year-old college student from Rowland Heights, California. The judges loved their take on "Some Kind of Wonderful" and sent Nate, Elijah, and the rest of Young Love through. Not so great was B Side, Gurpreet's group, that sang Maroon 5's "Payphone." The guys totally fell apart with forgotten lyrics and shaky skatting, and the judges yelled at them for messing up so badly. Somehow, though, they had all proven themselves so strongly before with their solos that they all made it through. Dang, they must have been REALLY good.

Gurpreet hopes to pull lyrics out of thin air

During the second round of solos, Gurpreet (who is getting a LOT of screentime, woo!) sang a lovely version of "Georgia on My Mind," while playing guitar; the judges sent him through. Marvin Calderon (a 22-year-old college student from San Diego who I neglected to write about previously...sorry, Marvin!) also made it through, singing "Jar of Hearts." Unfortunately, Nate was sent home, and we didn't even get to see his second solo. Bye, Nate! Hope to see you again next year with your proud, adorable papa!

Marvin looks as cool as the musicians behind him

We still haven't seen much of Vivienne on RuPaul's Drag Race, though she was on the team that won the lip synch challenge. This was no ordinary lip synch, though; the girls had to reenact infamous scenes from Untucked's past, and Vivienne played Tatiana from season two. She did a nice job and rocked a gold Grecian goddess look on the runway, so she's here for another week. Will we actually get to see her anytime soon, though?

On Face Off, the makeup artists had to create characters using candy. Alam was really excited, going for a cartoonish look with her cute sketch. She created a living anime character complete with gigantic eyes (which I found a little scary, actually) and a candy-covered costume. She landed in the top three for her self-described "princess of candy world." The judges liked how the "lifeless approach" to the face gave the character a toy-like quality, and they complimented the smart way she integrated candy into the costume. She didn't take the win, but it was a great showing of what looked like a really fun challenge.

Sorta freaky, right?

Sheldon had a great start on this week's Top Chef quickfire, which had the chefs cook Alaskan king crab. Sheldon's never cooked it before because "in Hawaii it's pricey." Ha! He wanted to push himself to be creative, so he made a miso soup with the crab's innards (sorry but that sounds kind of...odd) and also did some kind of smoke effect using pine needles. He took the win and another $5K for his simple but interesting dish, and Sheldon adorably said that he hoped the cash would keep him warm (oh right, he's from Hawaii). He also popped out from behind a curtain to scare his fellow competitors, shouting, "We're in Alaska, guys!" when they arrived at their hotel, and we heard a little more ukelele as well. Okay Sheldon definitely wins Top Awesomeness.

Sheldon scampers off with crab

But things did not go so swimmingly on the elimination challenge, which simply had the chefs cook a traditional Alaskan meal of salmon and sourdough. Sheldon planned out a green tea and chives recipe for his sourdough, prompting his fellow chefs to comment on how he always manages to work in Asian ingredients and is a "ninja" with the bread dough. Sheldon picked up sakai and chum salmon from the fish boat, then made a pea soup (inspired once again by the cold weather). The judges didn't love it: Padma didn't go for the green tea and chive combo, and there was a burnt flavor to the salmon, which was ripped up with tongs in a way that the local guest judge found "disrespectful." The soup was also thick like baby food, and it turns out that Alaskans don't eat chum, which is the junky salmon. Things didn't look good for Shel, but he managed to squeeze his way to safety in the end. Maintain, Sheldon! We're rooting for you!

Roasting 'mallows without a care in the world

As with Vivienne on Drag Race, I'm frustrated by how little we see of Tu on Project Runway. This week the designers had Heidi as a client, and Tu created a black dress with cutouts for her that certainly seemed interesting, but we barely got a glimpse of it. His team lost for the third time, but Tu was not one of the low-scoring offenders, so we didn't get any runway time with him. I hope the Dream Team steps it up soon, or the teams are totally shaken up, or Tu has some kind of sewing machine incident...or SOMETHING so that he gets screen time. Come on, guys! Let us see Tu!

I know nothing about you, dress

And finally, former chancellor of Washington, DC public schools Michelle Rhee appeared on The Daily Show to promote her new book Radical. For all her controversy and all the usual associations between Asian Americans and education, it's nice to see an Asian American woman rise to prominence in what is undoubtedly one of the most crucial areas of American society. I find her viewpoint fascinating, and I look forward to picking up the book.

About The Author

Dianne Choie

Dianne Choie's TV is in Brooklyn, NY. She has a cat, several reusable shopping bags, and other mildly annoying stereotypes of youngish people who live in Brooklyn.

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