For all the tumult in the world right now, one thing you can reliably count on is this: Asians are everywhere. My sister even went to Ethiopia for work several years ago, landed and was all like, “Wow, there are a lot of Chinese people here.” I guess there are literally billions of us – it’s inevitable you’d see us in your streets sooner or later. Maybe Pauline Hanson was right after all.
Needless to say, Asians are finally starting to show up on your TV sets, too – especially in comedies. In countries with big Asian diaspora communities – Australia, the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand – we’re finally not the punchline of some lame racist joke, but three-dimensional characters at the centre of our own stories. The Family Law is just one of them. Here are some others I love.
Friday Night Bites (NZ)
If you’ve been looking for the perfect web series to tide you over lunch and you’ve been feeling bereft after The Katering Show finished, head to Friday Night Bites now. These super short (five-minute) mini-episodes about three Asian-Kiwi flatmates are surreal, gross and bloody hilarious. Created by Roseanne Liang, Perlina Lau, Ally Xue and JJ Fong, it can be thought of – as one review put it – as “Girls meets Flight of the Conchords with a touch of Bridget Jones's Diary.” There are also heaps of dildos.
Maximum Choppage (Australia)
Fun fact: The Family Law was only the second show on Australian TV to have a 90 percent Asian-Australian main cast. The kick-arse (literally) Maximum Choppage – Australia’s first kung-fu comedy – was the first. Premiering in 2015 on ABC2, the show starred comedian Lawrence Leung as Simon Chan, the prodigal son who returns to Cabramatta as a feted martial arts master – the joke being he actually graduated from an arts school named Marshall’s. Whatever, now he has to defend his family and community from ganglords anyway. It’s very funny. And you’ll never see MSG or calisthenics in the same way.
Ali Wong: Baby Cobra (US)
The first time I watched Ali Wong’s stand-up act on Netflix with my family, I think I laughed so hard I almost s*** blood. Here’s a female (still rare), Asian-American (ever rarer), heavily pregnant (super rare) Chinese-Vietnamese American comedian on stage, joking about everything from hardcore anal to the anxiety of taking massive s***s in a workplace. She doesn’t shy from race, either. As she says: “I think that for marriage, it can be nice to be with somebody of your own race. The advantage is that you get to go home… and be racist together.” When she releases her forthcoming memoir, I will buy every copy.
Master of None (US)
In 2015, Parks & Recreation alumni Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang debuted their own show, starring Ansari as a 30-year-old actor trying to make a living in New York City. The writing skewers relationship politics, friendships and the weirdness of working in entertainment as a minority. In a nice change, white actors are the token presence, and the show can be sweet as well as searingly uncomfortable. If you don’t cry in the episode “Parents” – about the stories of first-generation migrants and their kids (which won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series) – you don’t have a soul. Or tear ducts, maybe.
Ronny Chieng: International Student (Australia)
Ronny Chieng’s comedy about being a Chinese-Malaysian international student isn’t a fully-fledged series just yet, but goddamn, we’re stoked to know it will be soon. The pilot episode – developed and produced as a part of the ABC’s Comedy Showroom series – has so many great jokes about Australian culture, academia and class that anyone who’s ever stepped foot on a college or university campus will die. Trainspotters will also notice the director is the brilliant Jonathan Brough (who directed season one of The Family Law) and one of the stars is Shuang Hu (Candy in The Family Law).
Also check out:
• Fresh Off the Boat (US)
• The Mindy Project (US)
• Kim’s Convenience (Canada)
• Citizen Khan (UK)
• Brown Nation (US)
Watch the final episode of series 2 of The Family Law on Thursday 20 July at 8:30pm on SBS.
Catch up on the entire series at SBS On Demand: