Warning: some major spoilers ahead so if you haven’t watched this Glee episode yet, don’t read this.
I’ve used to be a huge fan of Glee but as of recently, I’ve been tuning it off. But when news came about that Tamilyn Tomita and Keong Sim would guest star as Mike Chang’s parents in a Mike Chang-centric episode of “Asian F,” I thought it was something worth checking it out.
When the trailer for this episode came out, there were immediate concerns raised that the show would amp up the feared stereotype that Asian parents are ruthless dictators who force their kids to focus on career choices that does not revolve around the arts.
After watching the episode (or rather fast forwarding all the parts that does not involve Mike since the show has recycled character developments and reset them countless times), it wasn’t a Mike Chang-centric episode at all. His story was peppered here and there through the boring drama stories of every other character (I am totally not enjoying this show anymore). As for Mike Chang’s story itself, they handled his story rather well. The surprise was that not a Tiger Mom was to be found. Instead the mother turned out to be very sympathetic to her son’s dreams; Tamilyn Tomita turned in a great job for this role. The sequence where Mike Chang dances by himself and sees the most important figures in his life was incredibly powerful and the waltz with his mom was pretty touching. Good stuff.
Let’s talk about the strict Asian parenting aspect present with the dad. Some would say that this is a bad stereotype that’s harmful to the image of Asians and Asian Americans. I was almost inclined to agree, especially with the dad hamming it up that an A- is an Asian F. But during the dance sequence where Mike interacts with his dad in his mind, it definitely struck a chord in me when the dad expressed his concern that if his son gets into a serious injury from dancing, life would become that much harder. I think this is something many of us have gone through from our parents or as parents ourselves.
All in all, I enjoyed this episode as we got to see a little more backstory on Mike Chang AND we actually got to see Harry Shum Jr. perform his first solo number! As much as I’m grumbling to myself as I say this, I will be interested in where the character’s journey will go next as one of the main characters for the school musical.