I had heard of the Canadian television comedy Kim’s Convenience a few years ago when it debuted, but never got around to watching it, even when it became available on Netflix last year in the U.S. But after remembering a friend mentioning how great the show was, I got around to binge watching Seasons 1 &2 on Netflix and catch-up to Season 3 through other means … I have to say, the 30 minute (less without commercials) show is pretty hilarious!!!
“… a Canadian television sitcom that premiered on CBC Television in October 2016. The series centres on the Korean Canadian Kim family who run a convenience store in the Moss Park neighbourhood of Toronto: parents “Appa” (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and “Omma” (Jean Yoon) – Korean for “dad” and “mom” – along with their daughter Janet (Andrea Bang) and estranged son Jung (Simu Liu). Additional characters include Jung’s friend and co-worker Kimchee (Andrew Phung) and his manager Shannon (Nicole Power). The series is based on Ins Choi’s 2011 play of the same name.
The first season was filmed from June to August 2016 at Showline Studios in Toronto. It is produced by Thunderbird Films in conjunction with Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company, with Lee and Yoon reprising their roles from the play. Scripts were created by Choi and Kevin White, who had previously written for Corner Gas.
The second season premiered on September 26, 2017. The show has been renewed for two more seasons.
In July 2018, the series became available to audiences outside of Canada when it debuted internationally on Netflix.”
Paul Sun-Hyung Lee who plays Mr. Kim is a pure comic acting genius if you ask me, as well as the rest of the cast is top notch. Actress Andrea Bang is terrific and kind of reminds me a little of Korean American San Francisco former City Supervisor and former SF mayoral candidate Jane Kim, especially in her mannerisms and fierceness (or at least her character).
Simu Liu plays a handsome and charming, if not so bright, Jung (which is kind of nice to see the anti-Model Minority). Andrew Phung is also terrifically funny & upbeat Jung’s roommate and sidekick. And I do like the fact that Nicole Power’s Shannon has a crush on Jung.
The milestone capped an improbable month-long run. In that time, donations to his campaign flowed in from around the country, his rallies got more crowded and his Twitter following more than tripled, from 40,000 to more than 130,000 in 30 days, propelled by a rabid online fan base known as the Yang Gang.
He says it all started on the “Joe Rogan Experience.”
Yang appeared on Rogan’s podcast, which has more than 4 million subscribers on YouTube alone, in February to talk about his trademark policy proposal, “The Freedom Dividend,” his poll-tested name foruniversal basic income. After that, he said, his campaign took off.
“It seems like a lot of people started paying attention all at once,” Yang said in an interview with The Washington Post.
A Monmouth University poll in February put his support among Democratic voters at 1 percent, still a long way from the front of the pack but the same as Eric Holder and Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Yang exulted in a tweet.
He thinks, as all politicians must, that the more people hear from him, the more they’ll support him. On Rogan’s show, Yang, who founded Venture for America, held court for nearly two hours, discussing the threat automation poses to working Americans. He explained that, as president, he would institute a value-added tax on tech companies to pay all U.S. citizens over the age of 18 $1,000 per month, a dramatic expansion of the social safety net that would guarantee tens of millions of Americans a $12,000 annual income.”
Unfortunately, I work in San Jose, so the drive up to San Francisco probably would have taken over 1.5 to 2 hours given traffic these days. I did get to catch Yang speak at a smaller event in Saratoga, California.
I’m looking forward to seeing Yang increasingly seeing greater media exposure – I hope soon at a CNN townhall and other mainstream media outlets. If there’s a Southwest flight I can make to see Yang debate in June and July, I’m there (work schedule permitting). I think it is tremendously important to have Asian Americans involved in the political process at all levels of government, including running for president.
Full disclosure: I have donated to Yang’s campaign in the past and may in the future.
“It’s a play on my wife’s last name, which is Ho. It was actually her suggestion for that title,” he said. “Netflix wanted a catchier title than what I initially pitched, and Tran, my wife, thought ‘You Complete Me, Ho.’ We were both laughing hysterically and I pitched it to Netflix and they loved it. In many ways the act and the title were inspired by my wife. I look at is as almost like a one-man show touching upon my family and my wife with a bunch of dick jokes.”
In the special, Jeong talks about his marriage and his wife’s brush with breast cancer 10 years ago, while the camera cuts to her reactions in the audience. According to Jeong, the cutaways were the idea of “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu, who also helmed “You Complete Me, Ho.”
The comedy show was filmed at The Ice House Comedy Club in Pasadena, Calif., where he got he first performed stand up for his wife.
Without any plans for Valentine’s Day evening, I had a chance to watch the special and was pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t a ton (there was some) of overlap material (from what I recall – I admit, I had a few required drinks) from when I saw Ken perform back in April of last year with a fellow Asian American Duke alum – where Ken also went to school where he called my friend and I out as “Duke dorks,” as we were seated near the front.
” … working on, and being recognized from, his role in three Hangover movies, as well as riffing about his ABC sitcom, Dr. Ken, and how he’d still be sad about its cancellation if he hadn’t hopped on a plane and shot his first scene for Crazy Rich Asians the following day. Jon M. Chu, who directed Crazy Rich Asians, also directed Jeong’s special.”
and how his wife inspired him, especially his difficult times when his wife was battling cancer around the time when The Hangover opportunity materialized and was filming. If your a Ken fan and have Netflix, I highly recommend the special.
In Ken’s media blitz to promote his Netflix comedy special, I caught this great 20+ minute GQ YouTube video, Ken Jeong Breaks Down His Most Iconic Characters:
where he talks about his most iconic characters, including his roles in ‘Knocked Up,’ ‘The Office,’ ‘Role Models,’ ‘The Hangover’ trilogy, ‘Community,’ ‘Bob’s Burgers,’ ‘Dr. Ken,’ ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ and his recent hit TV show ‘The Masked Singer’.
After chemistry class on a recent weekday, sophomore Katherine Ho sat at an outdoor table in USC Village, and shared the chain of events that made the pre-med student’s rendition of Coldplay’s “Yellow” appear during the climactic scene in the box-office topping movie “Crazy Rich Asians.” … A first-generation Chinese American from Woodland Hills, the 19-year-old is a lifelong singer who has performed on the NBC singing competition show “The Voice.” She is also minoring in songwriting at USC. … Despite the fact that she was starting her second semester as a freshman — and was already overwhelmed with studies — late one night, she got her dad on the phone to perfect the Mandarin lyrics for “Yellow,” working line by line through meanings and inflections.
In her 27-minute interview, Sun asks Ho more about her background and how she got to do the cover for “Yellow,” and then she details and translates the Mandarin lyrics of the song. Ho also discusses growing up Chinese American, going to Chinese school and speaking Chinese to her parents and mixing it up with English (like me; my listening is better than my speaking, but Ho’s Chinese is way better than mine). Ho is pre-med by choice (not being forced by her parents) and minoring in song writing.
As I tweeted to Sun, it’s instances like this that makes me wish I lived in Los Angeles, to get the opportunity to interview artists like Ho!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the movie Crazy Rich Asians is coming out today, August 15th, nationally. I was able to see a pre-screening a week early that the filmmakers promoted on the auspicious lucky date of 8/8/2018.
The story follows New Yorker Rachel Chu as she accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young, to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. Excited about visiting Asia for the first time but nervous about meeting Nick’s family, Rachel is unprepared to learn that Nick has neglected to mention a few key details about his life.
As it turns out, there were questions about casting even before the book hit stores. Mr. Kwan said a producer who wanted to option the book had suggested that he make Rachel white. Mr. Kwan refused. “It didn’t surprise me,” said Constance Wu, the Chinese-American actress who ultimately secured the role and who has been a vocal critic of Hollywood whitewashing. “I’m just glad that Kevin stuck to his guns. It takes a lot of courage to say no to something, especially if you’re scared that everything might slip away if you don’t say yes.”
There’s been a big movement called #GoldOpen (which I am a part of, organizing a theater buyout for the Cornell Asian Alumni Association, other Ivy League Asian American alumni associations, and the Duke Alumni Association):
Digital media entrepreneur Bing Chen has seized on director Jon Chu’s comment that “Crazy Rich Asians is more than just a movie, it’s a movement” and is promoting the movie on social media with the #GoldOpen hashtag in the hopes of drawing a record box office.
So there are high expectations for the film, and I, like many, was worried that the movie would not live up to the hype. But it does, at least for me—the themes of the romantic comedy genre are pretty universal, even if the characters are Asian and Asian American and the film is set in Singapore and many of the characters are in the 1 percent, the movie should have a broad appeal. As Wikipedia defines a romantic comedy:
In a typical romantic comedy the two lovers tend to be young, likeable, and apparently meant for each other, yet they are kept apart by some complicating circumstance (e.g., class differences, parental interference; a previous girlfriend or boyfriend) until, surmounting all obstacles, they are finally reunited.
And Crazy Rich Asians fits the mold very well, though I wouldn’t say that the movie is completely formulaic. If you like romantic comedies like Pretty Woman, Notting Hill, or Love Actually, I’m pretty sure you’ll like Crazy Rich Asians, but it’s not as original as, say, Groundhog Day, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or The Princess Bride.
I have to say I knew I was going to like the film when in an early scene, Nick tries to convince Rachel to visit Singapore, and I heard the word “ahma” (grandmother). Just the word “ahma” was an “aha” moment, making me think, “Wow, I think that is the first time I’ve ever heard that word in an American movie.”
Constance Wu as Rachel and Henry Golding as Nick are great together, and Golding makes a great leading man—quite handsome and physically fit, definitely no Long Duk Dong. Michelle Yeoh is excellent as Nick’s mom Eleanor and the family matriarch, playing reserved and stern for maximum intimidation, almost in a The Devil Wears Prada Meryl Streep/Miranda Priestly kind of way.
But the breakout star and comedic relief is actress and rapper Awkwafina who plays Peik Lin, Rachel’s close friend from college. As a Duke MBA, I’m a big fan of Ken Jeong (Duke ’90)—and although he doesn’t have a huge part, he plays Peik Lin’s father, and he’s funny (as expected) when he’s on screen. Nico Santos also does a terrific job as Oliver T’sien, Nick’s gay, sassy, and well-styled second cousin.
I was captivated by the stunning and exquisitely poised Gemma Chan, who plays Astrid Teo, Nick’s cousin. Chan is absolutely gorgeous in this film and I really liked her portrayal of her character (which, I read in one tweet, was quite faithful to her character described in the book). I was aware of Chan before, since I had seen her in the AMC television series Humans, where she played an anthropomorphic robot (called “synths” in the series).
There are also a host of other actors and actresses I could go on about, but this is supposed to be a mini-review.
Overall, the movie is very entertaining and very funny. You get to see what the 1 percent in Singapore and Asia live like (maybe somewhat exaggerated). The movie is gorgeously shot. Lots of food and fashion porn, and as one review put it, affluence porn.
What Lord of the Rings did for New Zealand, Crazy Rich Asians might do for Singapore. I’ve visited Singapore twice, and in the movie, Singapore never looked better (though the last time I visited was in January 1999).
There are the twists and turns like in any romantic comedy, but the audience hopes and usually gets the happy ending it wants. I read The Joy Luck Club before seeing the movie over 25 years ago, but I have not read Crazy Rich Asians. I kind of want to now, to learn a little bit more about the characters and their backgrounds. With so many characters, it’s hard to have all the characters developed within a time span of two hours. Additionally, author Kevin Kwan followed up his bestseller with two more00—China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems.
Before the movie started, I read tweets about #crazyrichasians to see what the reaction to the movie was—some wrote that they laughed and cried, and I thought that maybe the crying was a bit melodramatic. But to be honest, I did tear up a little (I’m kind of a closet romantic—then again, I also tear up whenever I see the end of Armageddon with this line, “Colonel Willie Sharp, United States Air Force, ma’am. Requesting permission to shake the hand of the daughter of the bravest man I’ve ever met.”)
For some reason, these songs in Chinese really reinforced that Crazy Rich Asians is a special film. Although I was born and raised in the United States, as a Taiwanese American, I did go to Chinese school and did speak a little Mandarin with my parents. Most Asian Americans (due to a lot of immigration in the past 20 to 30 years), were born overseas, and still have a very strong connection to Asia. However, from reading public tweets and YouTube review comments, a lot of non-Chinese speaking people seem to like the soundtrack as well. There’s a certain familiarity yet uniqueness with these songs that were a very thoughtful magical touch by director Jon M. Chu.
Speaking of whom, I haven’t seen any of Chu’s previous movies, which included the Step Up series of movies, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. In fact, I’m not even sure I had really heard of Chu, and was really surprised to learn that he grew up in Los Altos Hills, not too far from where I live. But what was a complete shock to me was to learn that Chu is the son of owner and chef of popular Chinese restaurants in Silicon Valley (and among the oldest—opened in 1970) in Los Altos, Chef Chu’s. This restaurant is literally like a 10-to-15 minute walk from where I live.
He talked to Colbert about how he got into the industry and that by coincidence, Mike Judge, one of the creators of Silicon Valley was his commencement speaker and he eventually got his break because of Judge.
Yang was on the show to promote his new book:
Here’s the promotional video he put together for the book:
Best of luck to Yang and I hope to meet him one day! You can learn more about him by checking out his website: http://www.jimmycomedy.com/
“Through his Twitter account, the Congressman has catapulted to a cultish delightfully nerdy social media stardom. Post-election, Lieu has made multiple appearances on cable television, including MSNBC and Real Time with Bill Maher.
If you’re a politics junkie who likes to follow Congresspeople on Twitter — or even if you aren’t, even if just really, really hate Donald Trump — you’ve probably liked a Lieu tweet without realizing it.
Lieu gives the platform credit for lending him access to voters he wouldn’t normally be able to reach.
“Consider that 20 years ago, a person who wanted to have a discussion with their member of Congress would have to call their office. Now people tweet at me,” Lieu said. “I can engage in multiple different conversations with people on Twitter — it’s actually a more intimate way of contacting someone.”
He’s got the fourth highest Twitter following in the House of Representatives, just under California social media powerhouses including Adam Schiff, Maxine Waters, and Nancy Pelosi.”
“Since the beginning of the year, followers of his personal @tedlieu account have exploded, going from fewer than 10,000 to more than 122,000. (The official @reptedlieu account, managed by his staff, is generally more cautious, like Lieu’s former public profile.)
His frequent barbs have gotten the far right’s attention. Breitbart News has wondered whether, as a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, he could be court-martialed for persistent criticism of the commander in chief. (He can’t be, and he doesn’t tweet on duty.)
In conversation, Lieu is far more cautious and earnest than he is in his Twitter ripostes, and polite to a fault. Born in Taiwan, he projects a conservatism in manner and dress that seems at odds with many of his constituents.
After a dozen years serving in local and state politics, he succeeded Democrat Henry Waxman, who retired in 2014 after representing California’s 33rd District for four decades, more than three-quarters of Lieu’s life. The district is among the nation’s wealthiest and includes Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Malibu and Lieu’s more middle-class home of Torrance.
Lieu was elected president of his Democratic freshman class, but his first two years in Congress were comparatively quiet on social media. “We had a Democratic president who could stop stupid ideas and unconstitutional ideas,” he says. Now, Democratic members of Congress “are basically the last line of defense.”
Trump and his administration unleashed Lieu’s mojo. “Was charged $2.99 for coffee listed at $2.59,” ran one tweet. “That’s why I have trust issues. Oh, and the fact that @seanspicer at #WhiteHouse makes s— up.”
I love following Congressman Lieu and do wonder if his tweets are to give himself a higher profile. This past July, I did see Lieu speak at Politicon 2017 in Pasadena, and was able to ask him if he was going to run for Senate if California Senator Dianne Feinstein was going to retire (she’s 84 and her current term expires in 2018) – he stated he was focused on getting re-elected and helping elect a Democratic House for 2018 (note: Feinstein has since stated she’s going to run for re-election).
You can follow Congressman Lieu’s latest tweets here:
From a racial perspective, the reality TV shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette has been somewhat contorversial, considering that for most of the TV series existence, both shows has been pretty white. And 8Asians has covered this issue with blog posts such as:
Wong Fu Productions does an *awesome* and hilarious parody of the shows and highlights a lot of the issues related to the stereotypes of Asian American men.
The production quality is also through the roof – very similar to what you’d expect to see from a network show.
I thought the actress, Jamie LaBarber, who plays the Bachelorette, does a great job, and couldn’t help notice that her red dress was quite a bit revealing and loose fitting …
There were some really funny lines pick-up lines that the Asian bachelor use. But what I think the parody does best is parody the style, conflict and emotions found in the The Bachelor & The Bachelorette shows.
Wong has now released a web series called “Kristina Wong’s How to Pick Up Asian Chicks” that has funny women like me, Asa Akira (the porn star), Amy Hill (“Crazy Ex Girlfriend” and “Unreal”) and child actor Aubrey Anderson-Emmons (“Modern Family”) and 15 other APIA women. The premise goes:
“Essentially, there exists a genre of self-published books written by white men on how to pick-up Asian women with such literary titles as “Asian Milf Hunting” and “Everyman’s Guide to Asian Sex.” In the spirit of Jimmy Kimmel’s “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” I had Asian American women read and respond to some of their writing on camera. I bought six of these books (with my hard earned money) and we are releasing one episode per book!”
One character I did forget to mention, was the venture capitalist (VC) Ed Chen, who is portrayed by actor Tim Chiou. Ed Chen comes across as any other douche bag, venture capitalist “Silicon Valley bro.” Chen could be of any race – but he’s not a stereotypical geeky Asian American, and in fact, in a recent episode, you see Chen take off his shirt to play basketball, and he’s pretty good looking if you ask me:
I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have a broad range of Asian American men to be portrayed – just like Caucasian men.