Besides the CAAMFest 2016 panel discussion with the co-creater Alan Yang and cast member Kelvin Yu of Netflix’s ‘Master of None,’ I got to attend the panel discussion with CW’s ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ actors Filipino American Vincent Rodriguez III and Vella Lovell on Sunday, March 13th.
To be honest, I did not know much about ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – I had heard about the show when mentioned about how 2015 was the year of Asian American television, with ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ and ‘Dr. Ken.’ All I knew was the show starred a white woman, so I was wondering why the show was being lumped in with other Asian American shows. But I started to pay a little bit more attention after reading ‘‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ Star Rachel Bloom on Why TV Needs More Asian Bros’:
“I really think diversity is simultaneous with telling new stories because, I don’t know, “White People Hanging Out in a Coffee Shop” has been done. Diversity is just more artistically interesting to me because you’re in new territory and the whole purpose of making art, in my head, is to explore topics that haven’t been explored.
I have never seen a show that took place in Southern California and portrayed people the way it is in Southern California. The prom king in my high school was Chinese and the prom queen was Japanese. We just didn’t think about it. It was like, “Oh, yeah, George and Mika? They’re the prom king and queen.” It wasn’t until I realized that every other show is set in some nebulous town on the East Coast or Midwest where everyone is white and Protestant… How boring is that? And that’s not truth. That’s not my truth.”
“Rebecca Bunch is a single woman who still longs for her longtime soul mate Josh, who dumped her after their summer fling during summer camp in 2005. In 2015, after being inspired by a TV commercial for a butter spread, she restarts her pursuit of Josh after she spots him in New York City. When he tells her that he is moving to West Covina, California (“Just two hours from the beach, four hours in traffic”), Rebecca decides to move there too, hoping that it will give her a fresh start and bring her closer to Josh. She ditches her job in New York and moves there. “
So the big deal of course is that the character Rebecca has the hots for her ex-boyfriend, who happens to be an Asian American male / Filipino American (what a concept!). So I did get around to watching the first episode, but hadn’t actually finished watching it …. But I was still excited to attend the panel discussion.
Masashi Niwano, CAAMFest Festival & Exhibitions Director and emcee / interviewer (and former 8Asians blogger) Dino-Ray Ramos made some welcoming remarks, then a viewing of “Thanksgiving” episode then a discussion with Vincent & Vella facilitated by Dino, and ending with a Q&A session with the audience.
I’m glad I was able to watch the ‘Thanksgiving’ episode – because I was kind of blown away by it. In that episode, Rachel gets herself invited to Josh’s family’s Thanksgiving dinner (Josh is still dating dumb-but-HOT Latina Valencia) and we get to see a LARGE Filipino family get-together for Thanksgiving. And to be honest, I really, really related to the character of Greg who was taking care of his sick father – kind of a bit too real for me …
After the episode viewing of ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,’ the panel discussion began with both Vincent & Vella describing what brought them to ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.’ Vincent has been acting since high school and has his up’s and down’s, from traveling shows to television over the past decade+. (Given how relatively young he looked, I was pretty surprised.) When he got the script for the casting, he was blown away that the character of Josh was pretty much like him. Vella, who is more of a recent college graduate of Julliard School and has a bachelor’s degree from New York University.
If you’ve got some time, I’d encourage you to watch the panel and audience Q&A.