News

AAPI Stars Name the TV Shows That Inspire Them

The Mindy Project, Fresh Off the Boat, and Killing Eve are just a few of the most influential TV series for Asian-American and Pacific Islander creatives working today.

by | May 28, 2021 | Comments

To close out Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’re celebrating shows and characters that have inspired some of our favorite AAPI creatives working today. We asked the talent behind some of TV’s top series — Nelson Cragg of Amazon horror anthology Them, Joy Osmanski of Fox’s animated comedy Duncanville and The CW superhero drama Stargirl, and more — about the most influential, favorite, or meaningful television series in their lives.

Some of the shows on the list center Asian stories in a way they haven’t been seen on television in the past, some star Asian actors in prominent roles, and some are just plain entertaining and relatable and inspired younger actors to pursue their dreams. Read on for a hand-picked selection of TV (perfect for a marathon) so you can celebrate AAPI talent all year long.


Nelson Cragg, executive producer, director and Emmy-winning cinematographer (Amazon’s Them and Netflix’s Ratched): Killing Eve is such an incredible show. Seeing a Korean woman star in such a powerful piece is inspiring. And it isn’t a show about being Asian. It is just a great role for a great actor. I hope in the future Asian leads will be cast in a broader range of roles in tv and film of all types!

Josh Dela Cruz, Broadway actor and host of Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues & You!: Killing Eve is amazing. Sandra Oh’s portrayal of the immensely intelligent and complicated Eve is a far departure from the stereotypical Asian characters depicted on screen when I was growing up. The only thing I don’t like about it is the fact I have to wait for the next season!!!!


Joy Osmanski, actor (Duncanville, Stargirl): I remember how excited I was when Mindy Kaling’s show first started — I had loved her acting and writing on The Office and was thrilled she got to create all these stories centered around a character who was funny, flawed and just fun to watch. Seeing her face week after week and watching her navigating the complexities of running a show really inspired me.


Hong Chau, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in Watchmen (Mark Hill/HBO)

(Photo by Mark Hill/HBO)

Stephen Oyoung, actor (Good Trouble, Jupiter’s Legacy): I was blown away by Hong Chau’s performance as Lady Trieu. At first she’s just totally odd, mysterious, but then she morphs into this charismatic and sometimes hilarious villain? Protagonist? Antihero? All of the above! Like everything else in the show, you never know what she’s going to do next, but it all leads to fantastic payoffs.


Dela Cruz: Fresh Off the Boat is one of my favorite television shows of all time. It’s one of the first shows I’ve seen that closely resembles my experience growing up as one of the few Asian kids in my town. Not to mention the incredible cast. It’s so dang funny.


STEPHEN OYOUNG behind the scenes in JUPITER’S LEGACY

(Photo by Marni Grossman/Netflix)

Oyoung: This was a great opportunity to bring together my background in martial arts, stunts, and acting into one role as Tectonic. I’ve portrayed my share of serious comic book villains, so I was excited to play the goodhearted superhero and wise-cracking best friend.


Sway Bhatia, actor (The Mighty Ducks: Gamechangers, Succession): I admire Stranger Things, from the acting to the writing and the special effects. I’m so inspired by the work created collectively by the cast and crew because it’s challenging having to imagine being in the Upside Down. The entire cast seems to have such great chemistry and I love Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp’s work on this show. They have taught me so much when it comes to acting and they seem relatable on and off camera. The writing and directing combined make for a great series, and one day I hope to work on the other side of the camera and make people feel engaged the way I feel when watching Stranger Things. Now I can’t wait to see season 4! “He’s coming…”


Osmanski: This is a show that reaches all ages — in our family, my 4- and 5-year-olds love it, as does my 20-year-old stepkid (who introduced us to it), and my husband. The soundtrack is fantastic, and the fact that the main character is biracial Korean and Black really speaks to me and my family. It’s an incredible show with some pretty big themes. If I’d seen this show as a kid, it would have blown my mind.


Alexander Woo (The Terror: Infamy showrunner): How can you not love Aggretsuko for its bonkers sensibility? But what’s maybe even more fascinating is how you can watch it with the English voice actors or in Japanese with subtitles and come away with a totally different experience. I can’t decide which I prefer. Either way, please check it out. After the past year, it’s not hard to relate to the lead character’s rage.


Oanh Ly (TV writer and producer, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina): Korean period zombie horror show Kingdom on Netflix — what a fantastic mash up of Korean dynastic history, horror, and palace intrigue.


Ly: Daniel Wu is such a badass and the martial arts and stunts were so insanely innovative. They never got the recognition they deserved.


Ly: Not just a fun stylish entertaining show, but it’s really about something deeper. Much respect for the nuanced ways the show elucidates mental disease. Greta Lee’s delivery of “Sweet Birthday Baby” should have its own cottage industry of memes, ringtones and merch.


Ly: I love the parents and family in this show. Aziz’s parents are so charming. And the Thanksgiving episode is one of my favorite episodes of all time.


Ly: Vanishing Son was a mid 1990’s obsession for me, mostly because it was the only place I could find Asian American actors on screen. There were four m-o-ws and one season of TV. It starred Russel Wong as a man who escaped China after a political protest. (Not enough depictions of Asian protestors on screen.) And it also starred the beloved Cambodian actor Haing S. Ngor. There was even a storyline that took place in the world of Vietnamese fishermen (guest starring Dustin Nguyen) in New Orleans and their struggles with racism. It was really the first time I’d seen Vietnamese Americans on a TV show and it had a lasting impact on me.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

TCA toronto 2021 Marathons nfl GoT hollywood E3 Lionsgate Arrowverse Winter TV VOD Amazon Prime Video Britbox Lifetime Discovery Channel suspense criterion San Diego Comic-Con Academy Awards joker dramedy Video Games Avengers game show spy thriller The Purge 72 Emmy Awards concert cinemax Syfy comic books all-time MTV superhero TV thriller Martial Arts 45 Valentine's Day french MSNBC Hallmark finale docudrama dragons golden globe awards Best and Worst spanish language NBA Binge Guide mission: impossible romance revenge Acorn TV Television Critics Association DC Universe adenture New York Comic Con Kids & Family boxoffice 20th Century Fox documentary zombie BET Awards IFC Films travel obituary diversity CW Seed History ghosts italian television FXX indiana jones werewolf IFC asian-american Esquire Columbia Pictures Television Academy emmy awards halloween tv Oscars Reality Competition heist movie versus Stephen King CNN Peacock GLAAD Paramount Network Endgame docuseries Rocky Adult Swim book adaptation ABC Family Spike Ovation Image Comics psychological thriller cancelled TV series MCU Summer USA Disney Channel Pop TV reboot vampires Chernobyl Spring TV Mystery 1990s 2017 Family Calendar psycho TIFF crime drama TruTV best stand-up comedy boxing laika TBS Fox News Disney supernatural canceled TV shows kong Mary Tyler Moore YouTube Premium latino james bond black true crime 71st Emmy Awards politics TCM spain ITV TLC series mockumentary tv talk Fall TV Rock scorecard ABC Ghostbusters FX fast and furious Interview dogs Trivia cancelled award winner parents game of thrones HBO PlayStation screenings Sundance TV HBO Go jurassic park stoner Comics on TV saw zombies TV renewals Winners olympics razzies justice league elevated horror satire anime canceled Pixar Pet Sematary sitcom Cannes Heroines video new york A&E war Disney streaming service documentaries worst 007 Comedy Crunchyroll ID miniseries comic spanish twilight Polls and Games directors Sony Pictures ABC Signature CBS football universal monsters BET Tokyo Olympics Starz Amazon 2016 crime prank children's TV adventure video on demand Dark Horse Comics cults RT History Fantasy Shondaland 24 frames Pride Month a nightmare on elm street Anna Paquin Photos Broadway die hard Pirates critics CMT Music historical drama police drama Black Mirror Film Festival Brie Larson zero dark thirty Star Trek Hallmark Christmas movies adaptation Food Network Lifetime Christmas movies comics SundanceTV GIFs Musical OneApp richard e. Grant Cartoon Network Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt christmas movies marvel cinematic universe streaming blockbusters The Arrangement Drama RT21 WarnerMedia PaleyFest renewed TV shows ViacomCBS rom-coms jamie lee curtis new zealand Apple green book TCA Winter 2020 YouTube Mudbound popular Funimation Crackle wonder woman Rocketman Action name the review NBC sequel Turner Classic Movies composers remakes king arthur Christmas book WGN TV Land based on movie Baby Yoda Women's History Month cats festivals See It Skip It Captain marvel A24 high school Nominations what to watch 2018 El Rey Marvel Nat Geo king kong Apple TV Plus Bravo Sneak Peek monster movies natural history breaking bad Walt Disney Pictures Tomatazos VH1 Ellie Kemper YouTube Red halloween Reality Classic Film screen actors guild X-Men indie basketball child's play spider-man classics fresh Comedy Central BBC new star wars movies Nickelodeon political drama doctor who First Look 90s cartoon Amazon Studios sequels biography Universal Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Sundance Now social media teaser serial killer rt archives lord of the rings Election Horror Certified Fresh worst movies NYCC aliens Tumblr Travel Channel Schedule Podcast ratings cars comiccon dark Vudu Set visit Elton John blaxploitation nature rotten Quiz DGA Trailer harry potter Thanksgiving festival period drama Watching Series American Society of Cinematographers Song of Ice and Fire Holidays Apple TV+ BBC America Mary Poppins Returns TCA Awards Superheroes DC streaming service Sundance Infographic 2015 Country FOX cops Box Office Hulu Tarantino crime thriller cancelled TV shows Freeform japanese know your critic LGBT franchise sports golden globes scary movies superman Biopics Logo deadpool cooking science fiction chucky PBS reviews Marvel Studios TNT Creative Arts Emmys robots Pacific Islander transformers The Walking Dead free movies dceu comedies HBO Max Emmy Nominations casting Exclusive Video talk show live action First Reviews binge news The Witch Hear Us Out Character Guide kaiju japan legend Netflix Masterpiece sag awards slashers toy story foreign 4/20 romantic comedy target strong female leads women independent Disney+ Disney Plus Comic-Con@Home 2021 medical drama E! movies rotten movies we love Awards archives stop motion Emmys films singing competition 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards CBS All Access Western anthology TV movies The Walt Disney Company quibi APB Black History Month TV One facebook Spectrum Originals Comic Book Disney Plus Shudder Awards Tour south america Writers Guild of America space Fox Searchlight hist streaming movies Pop National Geographic batman VICE Paramount Plus mutant nbcuniversal technology Alien theme song aapi Premiere Dates blockbuster BBC One hidden camera scene in color 93rd Oscars pirates of the caribbean Turner unscripted movie disaster Super Bowl TCA 2017 99% Holiday Sci-Fi crossover trailers Trophy Talk The Academy DirecTV 2020 LGBTQ Warner Bros. spinoff Extras Mary poppins Epix Toys hispanic Animation Teen Wes Anderson Tubi dc godzilla Musicals 2019 DC Comics Red Carpet Year in Review Grammys President ESPN australia Superheroe Lucasfilm Marvel Television discovery cancelled television Countdown international FX on Hulu Legendary 21st Century Fox Opinion YA kids Star Wars AMC SXSW animated USA Network Paramount Mindy Kaling SDCC Cosplay Film Rom-Com Netflix Christmas movies OWN witnail Showtime telelvision The CW Amazon Prime venice BAFTA