Chin Chen Chins Chens

March 1, 2011 § 3 Comments

Last October, news of a brand new Asian-American sitcom stirred the interest of the APIA community. This show, called The Chin Chens, has finally released a trailer:

[The video has since been “removed by the user ” & replaced with this.]

Extended trailer has been discovered by Angry Asian Man:

The plot revolves around a Chinese father and Vietnamese mother who live with their three children and grandmother. The Chin Chens was created by Will Hollins, CEO of the Atlanta-based Bright Ideas Entertainment company.

Angry Asian Man has already deemed the trailer “unfortunate” and “just not funny.” I have mixed feelings.

On one hand, I applaud Hollins for his endeavor. We all know that American TV could use more Asian-Americans. The most prominent sitcom featuring Asian Americans was the 1994 All-American Girl, and more recently, NBC’s Outsourced. The actors in the Chin Chens seem like genuinely likable people, and I want to root for this small show with a small budget to succeed.

Yet, there are quite a few unavoidable things wrong with this production, starting with the name of the show. The alliteration of “Chin Chens” bears a remarkable similarity to “ching chong,” which hits home for anybody who has been mocked by this derogatory phrase. I’m not saying that the resemblance is deliberate, but it certainly makes it easy for ignorant people to mistake one for the other.

“I felt the Asian community didn’t have a proper voice on broadcast television,” Hollins said back in October. His cause is noble, but I’m not convinced that the execution is quite right. If you look on the Bright Ideas Entertainment website, this is the description of the show, which appears to be in need of an update:

Both Will Hollins and Lady Gaga need to learn that “Orient” and “Oriental” are considered outdated and offensive terms. It makes me worry because it demonstrates a lack of knowledge and sensibility to the contemporary APIA identity. We are no longer content to lie under the weight of stale stereotypes or false representation.

My concern that the writers of the Chin Chens might not be in contact with a comprehensive group of real Asian Americans who care about the characters being presented as well-rounded people who are funny on their own without having to draw on clichés such as “my teenage daughter is a terrible driver” or “grandma hates your ‘hippity-hoppity’ music.”

At this point, it seems that the Chin Chens is pandering to a non-Asian audience who will understand Asian Americans no better after watching the show. I urge the producers to reevaluate. Yes, profit is important, but if Hollins is truly concerned about the Asian community having a “proper voice,” he should portray them as more than one-dimensional personalities.

It’s possible for a show like this to be outstanding. A look at the immensely popular community of Asian Americans on Youtube is enough to prove that we can create and star in entertainment of good quality. I still have hope for the Chin Chens. After all, it can’t be worse than the K-Town reality show, right?


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§ 3 Responses to Chin Chen Chins Chens

  • Ez says:

    Gah, this material is so played out. Asian and Asian-American societies got over these generational issues a generation ago.

  • jolly says:

    reminds me of a conversation I had yesterday-
    “what’s your ethnicity?”
    “Oh… Are you Betty Chen?”

  • view says:

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    Do you’ve any? Kindly permit me know so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

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