Those who have still not recovered from the tragic loss of Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23 can finally draw their mourning period to a close. Former showrunner Nahnatchka Khan just received a pilot order from ABC, and it’s a far cry from the two-single-gals-in-the-city premise of her last project. An adaptation of Eddie Huang’s memoir Fresh Off the Boat, the would-be series is a family sitcom based on Huang’s experiences as a Taiwanese American growing up in Orlando. Combined with the news that Margaret Cho will co-star in Fox’s upcoming Tina Fey-produced comedy, it’s a promising development for Asian-American representation on television. To put it in perspective, here’s a brief, non-comprehensive history of Asian Americans’ role in the medium, from George Takei to Lucy Liu.
The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong
A successful film actress who’d previously spoken out against both the whitewashing of Chinese roles and racial stereotyping in the industry, Anna May Wong became the first Asian American to play a television series lead in 1951 with this short-lived DuMont Network mystery, centered on a crime-solving gallery owner. After broadcasting only ten half-hour episodes, The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong was abruptly canceled, and no copies survived the discarding of DuMont’s archives in the early 1970s. With a title derived from Wong’s birth name, the show marked a coup for an actress who was once denied the leading role in the film version of The Good Earth in favor of German colleague Louise Rainer.