Michael Patrick King, Definitely Not Being Racist

About two weeks ago I started watching another show, as I am wont to do, mostly because my schoolwork was piling up and I needed a reason not to do it. The show was CBS’s 2 Broke Girls, and after catching up on the first eight episodes I was linked to this article via a review on the A.V. Club’s TV Club.

The article discusses 1/2 of the show’s creative duo Michael Patrick King, who was an executive producer on Sex in the City, and his reasons for disregarding critics who are calling him out on perpetuating racial stereotypes. I’m going to present his quote first, then the alleged racist portrayals.

“I’m not going to change. No, absolutely not.”

“I believe that anybody, when you see them for the first time, you judge them based on the surface.”

First (and foremost) on the docket is Asian-American actor Matthew Moy, who plays Han (Bryce) Lee, the owner of the diner where the two leading ladies work. To be fair to King and CBS, a lot of the racial idiosyncrasies described here in the casting sides were toned down a lot in the actual airing of the show. Yes, Han still speaks terrible English, has a very poor understanding of holidays and anything else American (“And the Very Christmas Thanksgiving”), and makes an obvious reference to William Hung (“And the Rich People Problems), but it’s all in good fun.

The following are two clips. The first from Moy’s appearance on Criminal Minds, and the second of his character on 2 Broke Girls.


Well
, you may be asking, has the show deepened Moy’s character? Maybe all we’re seeing is this surface King was describing. To answer your question, not really. Moy continues to speak hilariously broken English, but has since become more of a nerdy stereotype than anything. His accent has become distracting at best, and continues to baffle me since Koreans are good at English. It’s like Han was raised in a remote village or much further North.

I’m going to list off the other racial stereotypes in a huge list, because going through them one at a time would be exhausting: the in-your-face Puerto Rican (“And Strokes of Goodwill”), the obnoxious Italian women (“And the Pretty Problem), the Mexican men who help with manual labour (“And the Disappearing Bed”),  the wealthy, Middle Eastern women speaking very heavily accented English (“And the Pop-Up Sale”). All of these appear only once, and don’t include principal cast members Oleg, the salacious Russian fry cook, and Earl, the aging African-American hepcat.With the exceptions of Han, Oleg, and Earl, none of these other characters have a chance to redeem themselves, to give you a chance to do anything but “judge them based on the surface.” The three aforementioned characters, however, have been resigned to the sidelines, not really moving forward at all.Michael Patrick King also said in the article that “Anyone who’s ever lived in New York has walked through an enormous melting pot of people. So for me, to do a show where you’re not exploring race would be absurd in Brooklyn, N.Y.” I can agree with the statement, but believe that only half applies to King. This is a man who has “walked through an enormous melting pot of people,” and gleaned what little he could from short glimpses as he passed them by.

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5 responses to “Michael Patrick King, Definitely Not Being Racist

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