Model Minorities in Reality TV: The Amazing Race’s Tammy & Victor Jih

If you have been following the latest season of The Amazing Race, you’ve noticed the Asian American brother-sister team, Tammy & Victor Jih. The last time I recall The Amazing Race having an Asian American team was when father-daughter team Ronald & Christina made it to the finale, but ultimately didn’t win in the end, coming in second. This past Sunday in the second episode, Tammy & Victor came in first in the latest leg of The Amazing Race. In a sneak peak, the third episode shows some sibling rivalry and friction between Tammy & Victor.

But when reality television shows cast Asian Americans, are they now trying to typecast and perpetuate the “Model Minority” myth? The previous season of The Amazing Race had Christina going to Duke and Princeton and working for the State Department. Survivor’s Yul Kwon went to Stanford and Yale Law and had worked at McKinsey & Google prior to going on the show. And now, Tammy & Victor, they both went to Stanford undergrad and Harvard Law School (a decade apart – HLS ’06 and HLS’96 respectively). Victor is a 35-year-old partner at the Los Angeles-based law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP. Tammy is an associate at the law firm Quinn Emanuel.

Is this better than how typically Asian Americans are portrayed in television and film, like Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles?

I do think that it is great that Yul Kwon and Victor Jih have come across as totally down-to-earth and photogenic, giving Asian Amerian males a much needed image boost to the steroetypical “geek” image that has been portrayed in the past. And yes, I *totally* have a crush on Tammy; she’s super cute and maybe I’ll be lucky and get to meet her in person one of these days like I have with Yul.

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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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