Never Have I Ever

(Photo by Netflix)

31 Important TV Shows About the Asian American and Pacific Islander Experience

Hollywood does not have a good track record of depicting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. They’ve traditionally been marginalized as the sidekicks to a (white, male) crime-fighter or have been stereotyped as punchlines or comic relief in sitcoms.

But, especially as there has been a bigger push for diversity in storytelling on TV, some shows have stood out as more positive portrayals of AAPI characters. We’ve rounded up a list of some of them, which include Anna May Wong’s groundbreaking work in The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong (it was a part written just for her and aired in the 1950s!) and Pat Morita’s work in the short-lived comedy Mr. T and Tina (the Welcome Back, Kotter spin-off was one of the first to feature a predominantly Asian American cast).

More recent series on this list include Young Rock, which is based on the life of the half-Samoan Dwayne Johnson, and PEN15, where half-Japanese comedian Maya Erskine plays a version of younger herself — and cast her actual mother, Mutsuko Erskine, to play her mom. Ensemble shows, such as the medical dramas ERGrey’s Anatomy, and The Good Doctor; dramedy Orange Is the New Black; and comedy Silicon Valley are also included for their work in spotlighting AAPI roles. And the miniseries The Night Of was included because of its portrayal of the racism that so many AAPI people face — in this case, Riz Ahmed’s Pakistani American Naz Khan.

Other shows were left off the list mostly on a technicality; Lost’s Jin (Daniel Dae Kim), Sun (Yunjin Kim), and Sayid (Naveen Andrews) were not included simply because their characters were not Asian American. Whereas, London-set Killing Eve’s lead, Sandra Oh, is Korean Canadian, but her character, the titular Eve Polastri, is from Connecticut. As Oh herself deadpanned at the 2019 Emmy ceremony when she was nominated for best actress in a drama series, “It’s an honor just to be Asian.”

Recommended: 

Read on to learn more about some of the most important series about the Asian American and Pacific Islander experience.

Are there shows you think should be on the list? Tell us in the comments! 

Andi Mack (2017)

#31
Synopsis: Life goes from routine to a roller-coaster ride overnight for artistic teenager Andi Mack. It all happens on the eve... [More]

All-American Girl (1994)
40%

#30
Synopsis: A college graduate works at a store while trying to move up in the world.... [More]

Synopsis: Nora Lum and her cousin struggle with young adulthood in Flushing, N.Y., with a little help from her father and... [More]

Black Sash (2003)

#28
Synopsis: Tom Chang, a disgraced ex-cop, attempts to rebuild his life as a martial-arts teacher and mentor to his teen students.... [More]

Dr. Ken (2015)
7%

#27
Synopsis: Doctor-turned-comedic actor Ken Jeong plays the titular character in this sitcom about a brilliant physician with a questionable bedside manner.... [More]

ER (1994)

#26
Synopsis: Set in Chicago, this medical drama deals with the personal and professional crises of the doctors in the emergency room... [More]

Fresh Off the Boat (2015)
94%

#25
Synopsis: Based on chef Eddie Huang's best-selling memoir of the same name, "Fresh Off the Boat" takes a humorous look at... [More]

()
%

#24

#23
Synopsis: Shaun Murphy, a young autistic surgeon who has savant syndrome, relocates from a quiet country life to join the surgical... [More]

Grey's Anatomy (2005)
84%

#22
Synopsis: The medical drama series focuses on a group of doctors at a hospital in Seattle, including several who began their... [More]

Killing Eve (2018)
89%

#21
Synopsis: Eve's life as a spy is not adding up to what she had hoped it would be when she started.... [More]

Kung Fu (2021)
86%

#20
Synopsis: A quarter-life crisis causes a young Chinese-American woman, Nicky Shen, to drop out of college and go on a life-changing... [More]

()
%

#19

Master of None (2015)
93%

#18
Synopsis: Comic Aziz Ansari and writer Alan Yang are the creators of this Netflix-original comedy, which is loosely based on Ansari's... [More]

The Mindy Project (2012)
86%

#17
Synopsis: Mindy Lahiri is a successful, skilled doctor, but when she leaves the office, all bets are off. She aspires to... [More]

()
%

#16

()
%

#15

Never Have I Ever (2020)
94%

#14
Synopsis: The complicated life of a first-generation Indian-American teenager.... [More]

Nikita (2010)
85%

#13
Synopsis: Maggie Q stars as Nikita, a young woman who was rescued from death row by a secret government agency known... [More]

()
%

#12

#11
Synopsis: Piper Chapman is a public relations executive with a career and a fiance when her past suddenly catches up to... [More]

PEN15 (2019)
97%

#10
Synopsis: This comedy series depicts middle school as it really happened. Comics Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play versions of themselves... [More]

Quantico (2015)
70%

#9
Synopsis: This thrilling drama from executive producers Michael Seitzman and Mark Gordon explores the lives of young government agents as they... [More]

#8
Synopsis: Sanjay Patel doesn't know the meaning of "uncool" or "impossible." The 12-year-old has great curiosity and excitement about the world.... [More]
Directed By: Will McRobb

Silicon Valley (2014)
94%

#7
Synopsis: Partially inspired by co-creator Mike Judge's experiences as a Silicon Valley engineer in the 1980s, this comedy series follows the... [More]

Sunnyside (2019)
36%

#6
Synopsis: Garrett Modi, the youngest Queens councilman ever elected, was a rising star in New York politics until he was pushed... [More]

The Terror: Infamy (2019)
80%

#5
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: Real-world and supernatural horrors collide in Infamy, an exceptionally well-crafted ghost story that creeps under the skin and stays there.

Vanishing Son (1995)

#4
Synopsis: A fugitive tries to clear his name and bring his enemies to justice.... [More]
Starring: Russell Wong

Warrior (2019)
89%

#3
Synopsis: A crime drama that takes place in the latter half of the 19th century during brutal gang wars in San... [More]

Wu Assassins (2019)
83%

#2
Synopsis: An unassuming San Francisco chef becomes the latest in a line of assassins chosen to keep the mystical Wu powers... [More]

Young Rock (2021)

#1
Synopsis: As Dwayne Johnson runs for president in 2032, he takes a comedic look back at his extraordinary life through the... [More]

Tag Cloud

stoner Teen romantic comedy thriller zombie Freeform 2021 Trailer TruTV video on demand vs. spider-verse comic book movie TBS The Academy mockumentary best Disney+ Disney Plus psycho posters slashers rotten lord of the rings crime summer TV preview Rock Marvel Studios zombies Song of Ice and Fire Amazon Prime Video worst movies Prime Video rotten movies we love YouTube Premium Oscars Awards Tour The Purge adenture casting Ellie Kemper TCA Awards aapi game of thrones Podcast book reboot canceled San Diego Comic-Con Summer Comics on TV space all-time Classic Film jamie lee curtis hidden camera DirecTV Chernobyl Pirates Bravo discovery king arthur Character Guide 73rd Emmy Awards Ovation obi wan DC Comics LGBT ratings laika Animation toronto NBA serial killer a nightmare on elm street historical drama social media Anna Paquin news unscripted dogs 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Indigenous Red Carpet kong Premiere Dates new star wars movies Countdown aliens PBS Creative Arts Emmys Winners target scene in color Shudder Pacific Islander cancelled TV series art house franchise cartoon Adult Swim wonder woman Musicals ESPN Music Country hollywood WarnerMedia kids singing competition cults summer TV series Geeked Week Pixar 4/20 indiana jones psychological thriller Awards MSNBC comic books Turner 1990s Photos spanish ABC The Witch composers Box Office Extras BET Awards black A24 FXX PaleyFest TLC Mystery genre Food Network christmas movies king kong scene in color Hallmark Christmas movies black comedy Amazon child's play scorecard President cancelled ViacomCBS comic Superheroe mission: impossible screen actors guild mutant Certified Fresh Infographic new zealand Sci-Fi CBS All Access Grammys Christmas TIFF broadcast Schedule streamig The Arrangement Reality science fiction scene in color series medical drama Netflix 2020 satire Pop TV Rocky Crunchyroll cooking feel good CW Seed BET Fox News interviews VOD latino YA movies 90s halloween football First Reviews Apple TV+ remakes royal family diversity comics Walt Disney Pictures deadpool The Walking Dead target Ghostbusters animated facebook australia Avengers Elton John supernatural talk show TV Land SXSW Paramount Network Exclusive Video biography NBC golden globes indie Women's History Month monster movies MTV Disney Plus Reality Competition A&E 72 Emmy Awards Syfy docuseries young adult international Crackle revenge Mary Tyler Moore comedies Year in Review legend saw parents Columbia Pictures cars spy thriller nbcuniversal canceled TV shows Horror superhero sequel Marvel Fall TV Focus Features critic resources Sony GLAAD HFPA Western justice league Academy Awards sag awards Lifetime Christmas movies Nominations period drama spanish language blaxploitation die hard Hollywood Foreign Press Association universal monsters children's TV anime teaser Endgame OneApp Nat Geo stand-up comedy werewolf GIFs witnail Family Spring TV foreign Cosplay TV know your critic 007 mob Tubi Best Actress TCM rt labs 71st Emmy Awards comiccon Legendary binge American Society of Cinematographers FX Marvel Television Martial Arts dceu comic book movies Esquire dexter Hallmark gangster DC streaming service Toys movie Disney Channel National Geographic films Native directors Marathons concert sitcom Election Amazon Prime Instagram Live live event Comedy Central rt archives Lionsgate popular RT History El Rey Alien Turner Classic Movies Trophy Talk true crime Rom-Com Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt south america Mary Poppins Returns Cartoon Network crime drama festival crossover Drama action-comedy spider-man scene in color film series war dc mcc Funimation Mindy Kaling Baby Yoda criterion cancelled television dark Video Games Paramount Pictures First Look suspense prank Black History Month Heroines Mary poppins Set visit LGBTQ trailers joker Paramount Apple TV Plus IFC Fantasy Tumblr 2015 award winner TV movies batman Star Wars Celebration nature PlayStation theme song SundanceTV CBS Universal Universal Pictures Rocketman USA Network dreamworks TCA television Peacock rt labs critics edition heist movie New York Comic Con finale ABC Signature jurassic park kaiju Comic-Con@Home 2021 breaking bad scary movies Lucasfilm pirates of the caribbean Shondaland IFC Films Trivia free movies Star Trek Calendar japanese Cannes streaming movies archives italian Thanksgiving asian-american Best Director Quiz sequels Logo Winter TV Arrowverse NYCC sopranos Watching Series Britbox Lifetime X-Men ABC Family name the review robots 94th Oscars Emmys renewed TV shows documentary Hear Us Out Musical venice hispanic Star Wars stop motion leaderboard transformers based on movie Starz romance Writers Guild of America miniseries Fox Searchlight Spike Film crime thriller natural history police drama harry potter technology video Kids & Family TV One tv talk adventure halloween tv ghosts Opinion doctor who fresh live action boxoffice Stephen King MGM marvel cinematic universe YouTube olympics RT21 cinemax DC Universe rom-coms The CW Apple obituary Sundance Hulu Sony Pictures elevated horror Disney SDCC HBO Max Action MCU Holidays SXSW 2022 quibi razzies Spectrum Originals zero dark thirty Film Festival 20th Century Fox 2016 sports game show Biopics reviews travel telelvision cops 79th Golden Globes Awards HBO Go biopic Polls and Games Image Comics marvel comics james bond Best Actor blockbuster 21st Century Fox BBC superman 99% political drama Warner Bros. women fast and furious Oscar History Best Picture Dark Horse Comics hispanic heritage month Travel Channel OWN Epix Tokyo Olympics disaster Nickelodeon strong female leads trophy nfl spinoff Black Mirror TCA 2017 2018 AMC HBO blockbusters screenings E! Disney streaming service South by Southwest Film Festival ID 2017 24 frames Sundance Now emmy awards slasher Netflix Christmas movies E3 critics Emmy Nominations dramedy CMT anthology 2019 Pet Sematary documentaries Neflix YouTube Red Comedy BBC One Tags: Comedy boxing APB cancelled TV shows chucky Interview independent high school french classics golden globe awards TCA Winter 2020 DGA Paramount Plus debate Amazon Studios FOX Showtime FX on Hulu worst vampires versus Fargo Chilling Adventures of Sabrina AMC Plus Brie Larson Pride Month Binge Guide new york Wes Anderson Comic Book streaming GoT godzilla Tomatazos BAFTA WGN adaptation what to watch spain basketball Discovery Channel CNN TV renewals USA Vudu Valentine's Day Super Bowl BBC America Masterpiece Sundance TV politics VH1 Captain marvel green book docudrama book adaptation See It Skip It japan Sneak Peek scary toy story Tarantino Acorn TV VICE Pop Broadway hist Holiday ITV 45 twilight Mudbound TNT summer preview richard e. Grant 93rd Oscars Best and Worst cats festivals dragons Television Academy IMDb TV Television Critics Association Superheroes The Walt Disney Company