How To Be The Asian Female TV/Movie Sidekick

By Van

Well folks, the television summer season is here, which means out with the old and in with the new. After HBO’s Girls got slammed for its lack of diversity, the latest contender is ABC Family’s Bunheads written by the creator of Gilmore Girls. I’ve gathered so far that Bunheads is a feel-good show about a big city dancer who moves back to the ‘burbs to teach a motley crew of girls how to be ballerinas. Sure enough, the girls are not individuals of color, which has lead to media backlash and the creator’s dodging the issue by citing  everything from budget limitations to high demands, the challenges of getting a new show on the air, and trying to show a specific group of people. Hmm, I wonder what “specific” group of people that could be.

The lack of diversity in television isn’t news. To some degree, I get it. Having grown up in the suburbs of “Pennsyltuckey” and most recently living in old money yuppie New England, I can understand how homogeneous audiences may truly believe that television does just a fine job of reflecting the general population. Aside from dragon ladies, Samurai girls, and China dolls, what else could be left for Asian women? Ah, yes. The invariably aDORKable sidekick! As a favor to you, I’ve done my research and have come up with an ultimate guide for landing this coveted role.

  • Befriend a quirky brunette who happens to be caught in a melodramatic love triangle with two hot guys and only speaks in one-liner witticisms.
  • Play a musical instrument and practice 24/7: piano, violin, drums (if you play drums, you better keep it a secret from everyone other than said brunette friend; that, or bring shame to your family).
  • In the rare instance where you don’t play any instruments, be OBSESSED with indie bands nobody’s ever heard of. I’m talking stalker, fan girl obsessed.
  • In fact, just be obsessed. With everything. Like Hello Kitty. Or hats with ears.
  • Play a high school teenager when you’re actually 27 in real life.
  • Wear nonsensical combinations of clothing to show how non-conforming and creative you are.
  • Always sport HUGE nerd glasses. The bigger and horn-rimmy-er the better.
  • Be super valedictorian smart and have super strict parents. Obviously.
  • Wonder why all the “good” female roles are taken, or located in Canada, and just settle for perpetuating the Hollywood archetype.

The Asian female sidekick seems to be one of the most pervasive, recurring television stereotypes spanning across multiple broadcast networks. For actors, I suspect it must be challenging to turn down one of these roles in the name of building a career. I just hope that a slowly burgeoning group of more serious APA actors emerges to rid us of these typecasts. And, as networks allegedly attempt to improve their TV Diversity Scorecards, let’s hope that we start to see more APA leading ladies and less of the silly sidekicks.

This post brought to you by MTV’s Awkward, ABC’s Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23, FOX’s Glee, CW’s Gossip Girl and the WB’s Gilmore Girls.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Van Tran is a mover, shaker, doer and maker who’s finding her place in the world. She is trained in both business and the law, which makes for some unorthodox writing styles.

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