Nearly thirty years ago, Margaret Cho broke new ground as the star of ABC’s All-American Girl, the first network sitcom to have a predominantly Asian American cast. Cho’s series proved controversial, however, in its assimilationist politics and performance of negative ethnic stereotypes, and was canceled after only one year. In this article, FQ columnist Rebecca Wanzo traces the genealogy of Asian American sitcoms from All-American Girl to more recent productions such as Fresh Off the Boat, American Born Chinese, and PEN15. Interrogating the complex negotiations with race and representation in these series, the column concludes that the performance of abjection in Asian American comedy remains vexed.
Ghosts of Cho: Abjection and Asian American–Born Comedy
Rebecca A. Wanzo is professor and chair of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research interests include African American literature and culture, critical race theory, feminist theory, cultural studies, theories of affect, and graphic storytelling. She is the author of The Content of Our Caricature: African American Comic Art and Political Belonging (NYU Press, 2020) and The Suffering Will Not Be Televised: African American Women and Sentimental Political Storytelling (SUNY Press, 2009).
Rebecca Wanzo; Ghosts of Cho: Abjection and Asian American–Born Comedy. Film Quarterly 1 December 2023; 77 (2): 62–66. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2023.77.2.62
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