With May being Asian Heritage Month, this is the best time to celebrate all of Asian culture. Whether it’s going to a festival to consume food and music or simply sitting down to watch a classic piece of Asian cinema, like In the Mood for Love, Asian culture is rich and deserves to be admired. One of the best ways to experience and celebrate Asian Heritage is to acknowledge all the art that has been contributed to express Asian culture.
Thanks to the work of BIPOC movements all over the world, representation of racialized groups has become essential in the media. From shows like Kim’s Convenience to Fresh Off the Boat, there have been a great many TV series that have shown the realities faced by many people of Asian heritage without stereotyping. That said, some of the best Asian TV characters have not come from shows necessarily about Asian-specific experiences, presenting full-fledged characters who are defined by more than just their ethnicity – a vast improvement on TV’s history of tokenizing Asian characters, according to a study reported by NBC News. These are the best Asian TV characters of all time, ranked.
7 Jason Mendoza – The Good Place
The Good Place is TV series revolving around the afterlife referred to as The Good Place AKA Heaven and how Eleanor (Kristen Bell) wound up there by mistake and has to hide who she truly is so that she will not get kicked out. A mainstay character that has become beloved by many is Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto) who suffocated to death after hiding in an airtight safe during a robbery. Jason is a misguided man with great impulse issues, which led to a lot of drug use during his lifetime. He is also adored for his low level of intelligence, which gets him into a lot of trouble as he seemingly has the same IQ as a 7-year-old. However, this is part of what makes him such a lovable character on The Good Place.
Portrayed by The Hangover‘s Ken Jeong, Ben Chang is the designated Spanish teacher in Dan Harmon’s Community. Of course, it is eventually revealed that Ben holds zero qualifications and, as a result, he must attend Community College with the rest of his students in order to gain those qualifications. Ben’s energy bounces around like when he is put in a position of authority, he seems to experience a great level of confidence and even narcissism, leading him to be a bully to his colleagues. Ben struggled to become a part of the study group and be accepted by his peers, longing for approval and acceptance from those around him. Chang’s antics are a wild ride for the audience, bringing many laughs to fans of Community.
5 Louis Huang – Fresh Off The Boat
Louis Huang is the owner of Louis Huang’s Cattleman’s Ranch Steakhouse in Fresh Off the Boat. Portrayed by Randall Park, Louis Huang is a father and husband of the Huang family originally from Taipei Taiwan. The family relocates from Washington, DC to Orlando, Florida to open up his restaurant. Louis loves everything American and wishes to live the American Dream with his family. Unlike his wife, Louis believes in the good of people, part of what makes his character so lovable on the show.
4 Mr. Kim – Kim’s Convenience
Mr. Kim AKA Appa, the Korean term for father, is the owner of the titular store in Kim’s Convenience. The Father of Janet and Jung, Appa is a stubborn middle-aged man portrayed by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee. However, despite Appa’s traditional values, he is open-minded and has a kind heart, especially when it comes to his family. Appa is not only a savvy business owner, but he is also a master of Hapkido, the Koran martial art which he has used to defend himself and his store. Appa is devoted to his family, but his bluntness is unfortunately what led to the estrangement from his son Jung.
3 Eve Polastri – Killing Eve
Eve Polastri, portrayed by Sandra Ohis one of the main characters in Killing Eve. Eve is an agent of British Intelligence who is given the task of investigating Villanelle and the Twelve, the organization that has hired her. As she carries out her investigation, Eve and Villanelle develop a relationship and a mutual romantic obsession with one another. Growing up an ambitious child, Eve was always fascinated by women in crime, driving her to become an exceptional investigator. Despite the fact that Eve’s life seems all put together, she can not shake the feeling that there is more to life than she is able to see. Killing Eve aired its series finale earlier this year, and though Eve lived to fight another day, Oh told TV Line that the original ending had Eve being killed instead of Villanelle.
2 Glenn – The Walking Dead
Glenn was probably one of the most loved characters ever to appear on The Walking Dead. Portrayed by Steven Yeun, Glenn’s Korean ancestry is referred to a few times throughout the series as Deryl and Merl refer to him as a “Chinamen” before he promptly corrects them and says he is Korean. This former pizza delivery boy proved himself worthy as not just a survivor of the infection but as a natural leader with an unwavering moral compass. Between his love for Maggie and his belief that everyone has good in them, Glenn was a strong character who not only fought off Walkers, but managed not to lose himself in the process, a rarity in The Walking Dead universe. Glenn’s death broke the hearts of fans everywhere because not only did he not deserve to die, but his death was probably one of the most gruesome deaths on the show.
1 Cristina Yang – Grey’s Anatomy
Yet another character portrayed by Sandra Oh to make this list is Cristina Yang from Grey’s Anatomy. One of the best characters in one of the best TV series of all time, Cristina shines as a brilliant but cold surgeon who isn’t afraid to play dirty to get ahead. Cristina serves as Meredith’s “person”, the one who is always there for her. Throughout her time on the show, Cristina shone as a surgeon. With a special interest in Cardiothoracic surgery, she worked her way up to becoming one of the best heart surgeons in the country. Her departure from the show broke the hearts of many as Cristina was a staple on the show from the beginning, but how could she turn down an offer from the award-winning – and ex-husband-to-be – Preston Burke.
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