Eli Stone: “What happened to your accent?”

http://a.abc.com/media/primetime/elistone/images/season/1/bios/jamessaito/detail/01.jpgA few weeks ago, after watching the premiere of the 4th season of Lost, ABC’s new show Eli Stone premiered. The show’s namesake, Eli Stone is a San Francisco lawyer at a prestigious law firm who starts to hear music in his head, which is later discover due to a small brain aneurysm.

In trying to resolve his “hearing” problem, Eli tries seeing Dr. Chen, an acupuncturist in Chinatown played by James Saito. The few times Eli visits, Dr. Chen comes across as a stereotypical Hollywood Chinese traditional acupuncturist, with accent, dressed in Chinese wadrobe and ancient wise words. However, later in the episode, Eli bumps into Dr. Chen out of his “costume” to discover he is a perfectly unaccented English speaking Asian American – much to the surprise of Eli:

Dr. Chen (Chinese accent): “You always show up – no appointment. Dr. Chen not Jiffy Lube. Come back Friday.”

Eli: “I went to the doctor. The real kind. You wouldn’t, uh, happen’ to have any needles for an inoperable brain aneurysm I inherited from my alcoholic father who I wrongly hated for 20 years?”

Dr. Chen (unaccented English): “Oh wow, that totally blows bro.”

Eli: “What happened to your accent?”

Dr. Chen (unaccented English):” ‘Long story. Want’ beer?”

Dr. Chen (unaccented English): “Grew up on a commune. From there, UC Berkeley, philosophy major. There’s no future in extensionalist ethics, so I got into acupuncture. Unfortunately, nobody wants an acupuncturist named Frank Lebokowski. They want incense, mystique, foreign accent. You know’, [Chinese accent] they want the Dr. Chen”

Eli: “That’s great. Even my treatments were imaginary.”

Dr. Chen (unaccented English): “Hey, 8 years of course work in holistic medicine, two years in Beijing. Give me some props’.”

I thought this was very clever. I was thinking that during the episode, that Dr. Chen was such a stereotype of a Chinese foreign-born acupuncturist, and was pleasantly surprised that he was actually not, and even defended his acupuncturist’s credentials. See for yourself in this video clip:

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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