By Shriya Dharmapurikar

We consume media every single day. Whether it’s the morning scroll through social media, the song on the car ride to work, or the late night movie binge, the media we consume has huge effects on how we view the world around us. Which means, it is imperative that our media positively portrays other cultures. Unfortunately, this standard isn’t always upheld.  Often, Asian characters are portrayed as nerdy, unattractive, and weird in movies. Shows and movies that portray these stereotypes can be offensive and harm entire communities. I’m here to talk about the shows and movies that fell through the cracks. Here are 5 of your favorite movies and TV shows with Asian characters that didn’t age well. 

1) Disney Channel- Jesse in Ravi

At my school, the track to becoming popular was quite simple as a kid. All you had to do was buy a fidget spinner and watch the most popular show at our school: “Jessie.” The show was simply a comical work of art to eleven year olds. However, sometimes the butt of the joke was ten year old Ravi, specifically, his accent. Ravi is adopted from India and is constantly made fun of for his accent, clothing choices, and “nerdy” comments. This was especially hard for me to watch as a kid because both of my parents have Indian accents, just like Ravi. His portrayal started to make me feel like my parents, my family, my culture, is something to laugh at.

Gilmore Girls GIF | Gfycat

2) Gilmore Girls

“Gilmore Girls” is one of the hardest shows to critique, simply because it has a massive, loyal, fanbase. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why. The show is cute, set in a small town in Connecticut. It gives nostalgic vibes of hot coffee, pumpkin spice, and fall romance. But just when you’re about to get comfortable, you see Lane, one of the only characters of color in the show. Nothing good ever happens to her, often making her feel like the typical best friend of color, who will never really have a good storyline. Her mother is a stereotypical Asian “tiger mom,” constantly urging her to study more, not talk to boys, and eventually kicking her out of the house for pursuing music. 

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3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” a 1961 film directed by Blake Edwards, might just be the worst on the list. One of the biggest characters in the film is Mr. Yunioshi, a Japanese neighbor sent to cause disruption to the protagonist. However, Mr. Yunioshi is played by Mickey Roony, a white man, wearing fake teeth and an exaggerated accent. The entire character is unsettling and very racist. 

Flirting long duk dong GIF on GIFER - by Gugore

4. 16 Candles

“16 Candles” is a coming of age film starring Molly Ringwald and directed by John Hughes. It centers around Samantha, a teenager who spends her 16th birthday alone, overshadowed by her sister’s wedding. Unfortunately, the overt racism in the movie completely distracted me from trying to enjoy it. For example, the show also portrays an exchange student from China. However, instead of adding positive diversity in the show, Hughes decided to create the harmful, offensive, stereotype that is “Long Duk Dong”, who only appears at the sound of a gong.

Raj Video Calls His Parents - The Big Bang Theory animated gif

5. The Big Bang Theory

I have a love-hate relationship with “The Big Bang Theory.” It is such a witty, funny, relaxing show that I can’t help but binge watch it sometimes. But the portrayal of Raj is unfortunate. All the main characters are “nerds,” however, all of them date throughout the show, except Raj. Constantly, jokes are made about how he can’t find a wife. The show reiterates the stereotype that Indian men are not attractive or can’t date.