The things you miss when you're in China. Mike + Tina = STRONG ASIAN FUSION
Wow. So, I'd hoped to write in the 'Gate about the premiere of Glee along with HI-Five but ran out of space, since my editor limits my column to a measly 2000 or so words (aheh). The rationale was the much-anticipated appearance of Fil-Pop idolette Charice on the show — though based on the direction the premiere took, it looks like her role is going to be at most "recurring," sadly.
But something much bigger dropped in the season opener — a plot twist that, though played mostly for laughs, could quite possibly be a historic one for the representation of Asians on primetime TV. Yep, I'm talking about the sudden and totally unexpected Mike x Tina relationship — otherwise known as Chang Squared, or MiTi, or Mina, or whatever convention the relentless 'shipper brigades on the web use to convey cutesy coupledom, wishful or otherwise, among fictional characters.
I know some people may have found some aspects of the blossoming of their love offensive (they met at Asian Camp, where they were teaching technologically advanced Asian children how to appreciate the arts!), but have we ever — ever — ever seen an actual pairing of Asian Americans as a romantic couple on a sitcom in the past? I'm not referring to one-shots or old marrieds here, but young, ongoing characters in a primetime comedy, meeting cute and being lovey-dovey?
As with most advances in recent television diversity, I think it all began with Lost — in this case, Jin and Sun; old marrieds, yes, but very much a romantic couple. Heroes then had James Kyson Lee's Ando and Eriko Tamura's Kimiko.
But those were both dramas. Sitcoms, for better and for worse, are still America's teevee standard, setting the bar for normal; for instance, I'd argue that the turning of the tide toward acceptance of LGBTs in middle America was ultimately the portrayal of gay characters in a funny and favorable light in Will and Grace.
So now: Mike and Tina. Asian and Other Asian. Will it last? Will they get some real screen time? We can only hope. At the least, the pairing has made for some deftly hilarious jokes about, with and yes, at the expense of Asian stereotypes, in a way that I think manages to humanize the Asian American condition. I'll 'ship to that.
(And I had to LOL to: "The Asian community is very tight")
Hmm, maybe there's a column in this after all...