The Fairy Princess has been watching a lot of Network TV.
Mainly because she has a toddler, and as most Parents know, once you have a toddler, you do not get to go out as much as you had before.
Therefore I have noticed that some of my favorite non-Asian named but played by Asian American characters have been killed off, rather gruesomely, on Network Television and I can understand why some are getting upset. (Upset being the mildest word to describe what they are feeling)
Let’s break it down for those who cannot understand the fuss –
First to go:
Now, Luli was a cool chick. She was. She had an MBA in Economics from Stanford, and was the youngest ever head of a Billion Dollar Hedge fund until, in a spectacular death blow to Tiger Parenting, she was charged twice with wire and securities fraud. However, she survived all of that and went on to manage James Spader’s character ‘Red’ ‘s money and was his lovah….all of which I enjoyed both as an audience member and as a fan of diversity.
And then…dum, dum, dum….Luli had her face blown off and brain matter splattered right there on Network TV in the episode “Anslo Garrick“.
KA-BOOM! Luli we hardly knew ye.
Poor earnest Shelby Moss, who in her work for the NSA ‘overheard’ the conversation between the “I love my Dead Gay Husband, who I just killed” Vice President played by the formidable Kate Burton and the “I let my live Gay Husband sleep with your Dead Gay Husband to get blackmail photos‘ Cyrus Beene, played by the brilliant Jeffy Perry, in the Episode “No Sun On The Horizon”.
Poor Shelby, she was only trying to help when she turned the conversation in to Olivia Pope’s Sub-Gladiator Family, headed up by their Don Quixote, David Rosen.
But what did she get?
Bullet to the forehead, no warning, and buried in an unmarked grave by Scott Foley’s Jake, who is now ‘Command”.
Ouch. Not even a double tap.
Single shot. Brutal.
Probably Shelby Moss should have taken the hint when she walked on set, given the way Scandal handled it’s last API Character – ‘member Press Secretary Britta Kagen?
Played by Keiko Agena.
Britta bit it too. Only fatality. Ouch.
To be an Asian American actor on Scandal is the same as being a ‘red-shirt’ on Star Trek.
Damn, they were only following orders, Kirk!
Anyhow, Asian American female characters dropping like flies in some spectacularly gruesome ways, how are the men doing?
Reggie Lee aka Officer Wu on NBC’s GRIMM
was attacked by an Aswang (Filipino monster) and wound up in a mental institution!
Alec Mapa‘s Renzo on ABC Family’s Switched At Birth was accused of leaking Lea Thompson’s first draft manuscript!
Hmmm, the men, not so good. I mean, good that they are getting so much screen time, but they are dealing with a lot of stuff too.
Which is great!
Because that means more airtime, and that means that APIs are becoming part of the American Television landscape in a larger way, and that means, we are finally getting ‘our due’ as integral cast members! Bad stuff happens to Cast Members, because that is what a dramatic show is all about.
So if Reggie Lee has to go crazy, or if Alec Mapa has to defend himself, or if our Hawaii 5.0 bruddahs and sistahs have to enjoy huge character arcs, in the name of propelling their show’s drama, all the better.
However one can see where Asian American audience members were perhaps having a rough viewing Network TV season, and then came…Beverly Katz.
Everyone likes Beverly Katz – maybe it’s the name, maybe it’s the no nonsense approach she has to science. Perhaps it is because Beverly Katz was indeed a breakthrough character in many ways, right from casting.
Hannibal Creator, Bryan Fuller first saw Hetienne in a play on Broadway called “Seminar”, and that may be where our public attachment started.
First off, as everyone knows, (but if they do not they can read this AAPAC study on the dearth of APIs on Broadway) Asian Americans on Broadway in seasons where Miss Saigon or King & I are not playing are low to non-existent. To be an Asian American on Broadway is to defy incredible odds. To then be able to propel it into a television role is exceedingly rare, so of course Asian America would embrace Beverly Katz, er…Hettiene Park, er…Beverly Katz. (because you see, she’s a character, ahem)
Here’s glam, but understated, Beverly going head to sewn-on head (onto another body, you have to watch the show), with monster Hannibal Lector, who has planted evidence to frame the mentally nimble but unsteady, Will Graham. Beverly is the only one, using reason and logic and science, who finally comes to the realization that Will is telling the truth.
So she goes to Hannibal Lector’s house. Alone.
Repeat that last part, she goes to Hannibal Lector’s house alone. Would YOU go alone to someone’s house if you thought they were a mass murderer who eats his victims?
Probably not, but it makes for good television.
Good television, good storytelling, good craftsmanship is why people watch the show. Any show.
Unless you watch reality tv exclusively.
Now, there are many, many reasons that fans attach to a character and a show. Asian Americans in particular have been so long ignored on the TV landscape that we attach rather strongly – so there was a resulting uproar when poor Beverly Katz turned around and saw Hannibal seeing her, in his basement, pawing through his stuff.
Characters die for all sorts of reasons on television. Sometimes it’s a production decision, sometimes it’s an actor’s decision, sometimes it is a combination. A non-meeting of the minds. Or it is a decision based on, oh, what is that thing we all tune in for?
Oh right, the story.
You can be sad when your favorite characters die on a television show, for example…
Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey
Josh Charles as Will Gardner on The Good Wife….
But let’s not get hysterical.
There are really good things coming for Asian Americans who like seeing Asian Americans on television or in films –
And there are some really good things already up and running:
So we are not NON Existent on Network TV, get that out of your head. We’re there. Not everywhere, but we are there.
Of course you are allowed to be sad about poor ol’ Beverly Katz, who likely will ‘get served’ on this evening’s Hannibal.
However you must remember….your favorite characters dying on one show means that soon – they will be on another show playing someone else you can grow to love just as much. Or perhaps they can go and do a play or a musical on Broadway and you can see them live, up close and in person.
Being on a Network Television show in a role that recurs opens many doors, it is the gateway to a career that can be challenging, as a minority, to get noticed in. When Hannibal started, no one outside Broadway knew of the range and talent of Hettiene Park. Now, as of the numbers last week show, 2.5-2.7 million people have seen Ms. Park and what she can bring to a role. She will be just fine. She will live on – not as Beverly Katz, but as someone equally cool. Same goes for Deborah S. Craig and Julia Cho and Keiko Agena….they will all be fine.
You can be angry – but be angry at Beverly Katz, who was stupid/confident enough to walk into a psychopath’s house alone without backup. While you are at it, be mad at Cousin Matthew for driving too fast, and be mad at Will Gardner for taking on an unstable client.
That anger will be equally as useful.
Flipping out to flip out is not going to get you more Asian Americans on television. Flipping out to flip out, means you become, forgive the color inclusion but it’s the term, white noise.
No one will listen.
The Fairy Princess is not down for that, nope, not at all. You cannot cry racism or institutional racism or any other isms ad nauseum. Activism is useful when it is active. Not when it’s all about yelling. I know this, because my Family has, for generations, been activists in this country.
Beverly Katz is dead. RIP Beverly Katz – your passing will enhance the opportunities for actress Hettiene Park, and the storyline of Hannibal, and for those of us who watch it, we are grateful for your sacrifice.
And if you cannot…..(I don’t know why, maybe you are a vegetarian, as am I) then it really may be as Elementary as…