By Guest Contributor Karen Chau
“What’s happening, hot stuff?”
The answer is … not much.
Since the appearance of Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles, representation of Asian men in popular culture – and specifically comedy – hasn’t really changed much. They’re mostly still nerdy, socially incapable background characters. Still, primetime TV has shown us that Asian men can be more than just quiet contributions to set dressing. They can be funny in their own right. But being the funny bro doesn’t really mean you’ll have any more success with the ladies. Just ask Lester Patel from Chuck, Raj Koothrappali from The Big Bang Theory, or Tom Haverford from Parks and Recreation.
Lester (Vik Sahay) works at the Buy More as part of Chuck’s Nerd Herd team and occasionally performs as part of the music group Jeffster! with his best friend, Jeff. Raj (Kunal Nayyar) is an astrophysicist at Caltech who suffers from a case of selective mutism in which he can’t speak to women outside of his family (except after the consumption of alcohol). Tom (Aziz Ansari) is a member of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation department team, often serving as Leslie Knope’s right-hand man.
The Asians have gotten cooler, but they still aren’t quite cool, yet.