British Chinese Comedy Show WOK Releases Its First Episode And It Is Awesome On Every Level
British Chinese show WOK has released its first full length episode. It Follows the life of BRUCE CHONG, son of migrants from Hong Kong who open a Chinese takeaway in East London. Created by actor BRUCE CHONG himself and CHRIS CHUNG, it is actually inspired by CHONG’S actual life growing up. It takes a very authentic view of the lives of many British Chinese families who started their Chinese Takeaway business as a way to make a living and to ensure their children can access all the opportunities afforded to them. It has been a long time coming for the release, but it is well worth it. Here is a post we here at YOMYOMF wrote on the show back in 2016.
This comedy sitcom is just absolutely awesome, and not just because of the show’s premise. It shines a light on certain stereotypes about Chinese families – you know the tiger mum Yuet ( played by DAPHNE CHUNG), the hard working father, who in this sitcom is quite eccentric Chong ( played by WAI WONG), BRUCE CHONG himself and his smarty pants little sister Mei Mei ( played KIMBERLY NGUYEN).
As the show revolves around the life of Bruce, we can see him being the confident, still working out his life, mummy’s boy, who has just received an acceptance letter for his university studies, which he has been trying 2 years to get in. He shares this awesome news with his girlfriend Rachel (played by STEPHANIE LEWIS), a British Caucasian girl who then tells Bruce that she wants to meet his family. I will leave the synopsis here, but a series of comedic moments and Bruce trying to keep the embarrassing moments of his family on the down low is just absolute gold, when they ask Bruce to invite Rachel for a hot pot dinner.
This show in my opinion needs to be commissioned into a full length series, because it presents British Chinese in a positive light and does not perpetuate any negative stereotypes. It does however use the stereotypes Chinese migrants are familiar with, but makes it so subtle to the point where it is tasteful. I do not want to make any comparisons, but I would honestly prefer to see networks like BBC commission shows like WOK, which is just refreshing and really needed.
In addition, I have decided to highlight a few points as to why I think WOK is awesome on many levels:
Tastefully Presents All Stereotypes Chinese Migrants And Their Children Are Familiar With
I loved how the first episode highlighted many of the racial stereotypes – the tiger mum who loves gossip, the awkward, hard working, yet eccentric father, the competitive relatives and the sweet, smarty pants younger sister. All of these stereotypes I am sure we East Asians can relate to and WOK actually included all of this in smart, tasteful humor. I could not find any of the racial stereotypes problematic and this is why I find it extremely authentic.
The Lead Is An East Asian Man (British Chinese)
We rarely see positive, strong depictions of East Asian or really any Asian man on TV and film. The mainstream TV and film have made billions off portraying Asian men as awkward, meek, weak and sexually inept. Bruce Chong who is the main character represents any regular Chinese son who is about to start the next phase of his life. He is handsome, confident and does not play into any of the negative stereotypes which plague East Asian men.
It Shows Interracial Couple As AM/WF
I will admit that there is a disproportionate representation of interracial couples/relationships on mainstream TV and film. And even though WOK is an Indie show, it depicts an AM/WF coupling (Bruce and Rachel) which is healthy and does not push into the white worshiping envelope. We need to see more diversity in terms of couples/love/dates/relationships on our shows,sitcoms and films. We see many AF/WM depictions, but we rarely see AM/WF and other AM/XF and AF/XM. Hence I enjoyed seeing the chemistry and dynamics between the relationship of Bruce and Rachel.
Diversity Of Asians
I loved how the takeaway shop delivery man was played by a British South Asian – Jason (played by RICKY SHARMA). He defies all the stereotypes about South Asians and is essentially included as part of the Chong family. Considering there are a lot of racial issues within the Asian diaspora internally, I find the addition of a South Asian character who is treated as part of the family very refreshing.
Role Switching Between Young Sister And Mother (a bit of a spoiler FYI this one)
I do not know whether y’all noticed this, but I loved how Bruce’s little sister Mei Mei was portrayed as the smarty pants character. It is funny because from the first full length episode, Mei Mei has a passion for looking up the Chinese zodiac, something which generally is of interest to a Chinese mother. This is why I said, WOK cleverly reversed these roles, and by far Mei Mei is my favourite character. You can also see the awesome dynamics between Mei Mei and Jason in the show as it shows both of them treating each other like siblings ( you will know when you watch it). Again, bridging the gap between inter-Asian relationships.
It Is Authentic And Reflects Reality
Knowing a growing number of British Chinese, they always tell me that every British Chinese person has either owned a Chinese takeaway of some sort or know someone close to them who does. This is why I said WOK is authentic and actually reflects the reality of many British Chinese families and migrants. More broadly we also see this in other parts of the West and Europe and it shows how our reality actually is.
My final take? Go watch the vimeo clip of the first episode. I so want to watch more episodes if and when it comes out, and love the humorous cliffhanger scene at the end of the first episode.