Maggie Q in Nikita

Maggie Q getting ready to kill someone

(saw the story of Maggie Q on 8Asians.com)

I’ve been posting overtime on Asian people on TV. Maggie Q is getting a lead role on prime time.  See below for a sneak preview of Nikita, which is coming to the CW this fall.

I don’t know if this series will last.  No doubt Maggie Q is attractive, and no doubt she’s proven her abilities as an action star through Live Free or Die Hard and Mission Impossible 3.  (I actually didn’t see either of these movies, so I checked this clip.)  If this is like other CW-type shows, however, it’s going to fall short in realism.  Not realism in terms of the action but realism in terms of minority characters.  The problem with a lot of CW shows is that they whitewash their minority characters. They’re “diverse” in that they have at least one minority in every show, but the minorities are often relegated to playing “race-blind” roles.  There is no deeper level of thinking about race among their minority characters.  Race-thinking is not an afterthought; it’s a non-thought.  Minorities like this hardly exist in real life.

It’s like that 90210 remake. How do you put a black kid in the middle of a bunch of snobby rich teenagers? 90210 made more sense with an all-White cast because that’s the way it is in real life for most people of that social class and race.  With few exceptions, popular, rich White kids don’t hang with the minorities unless they’re doing community service.  These White characters can provide interesting stories on their own without minorities. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as there are other vehicles in the mainstream that allow racial minorities to tell their stories.

If this is like any other CW show, they’ll do their best to showcase their attractive eye candy (when y’all gonna try to sell an Asian male to the American public?), but it will just be a White storyline using an Asian actress.  Maggie will be fighting White characters (outside of maybe the occasional Chinatown episode), hanging out with her all-White girl friends, and going crazy about White love interests (I’m not going to comment.).  It’s going to be as superficial as that CW Superman show.

I’m not denying the significance of putting an Asian female in a lead role.  But think about how much more real these stories could be if the networks were willing to put minorities into more natural roles that more accurately describe how minorities usually live. MaSir Jones recently posted about Edgemont, a Canadian show from (it looks like) a long time ago:

Kristin Kreuk and Grace Park–TWO Asian women on ONE show. The Canadian producers didn’t just pick one or the other; they hired both.  It rarely happens like that on American TV–usually American TV has a single token in the middle of a bunch of White protagonists. But if you think about it, having at least two Asian women is a real portrayal that describes reality for most Asian women. How many Asian women do you know who have no other Asian female friends?  I’ve lived on both coasts and know people all over the country, and I’ve met maybe only one Asian female who doesn’t have at least one other Asian female buddy.  Even in places like Portland, Oregon, where there aren’t many of us to begin with, there’s a certain commonality of experience that brings people together.  Sure, these American TV companies can tell only the stories of Asian people who have no Asian friends, but they’re missing a lot of the other stories that describe how most Asian Americans live.  By ignoring how most Asian Americans live, the networks also lose a great opportunity to describe how many of us think and feel.

2 thoughts on “Maggie Q in Nikita

  1. It does matter. It’s funny because when you point it out now, I agree with you. But whenever she shows up in a movie, I immediately think, “Hey, Asian actress!” even when I don’t recognize her right away.

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