The fall TV landscape can be a vicious beast. When new shows premiere each year, they face the double whammy of having to entice audiences and the critics, the latter of whom can sometimes be loud in their approval or disapproval of projects. Recently, Ken Jeong, the lead of ABC’s new sitcom Dr. Ken, had some pretty strong things to say to critic Christian Fan, who called the actor's comedy “yellowface.”
The comedian had a few choice things to say to the blogger and critic on social media, also noting that Fan was invited to a special event and that he was treated more respectably than he managed to give back. It’s no wonder he’s upset. The comments the critic made were of a pretty personal nature. He wasn’t just attacking Dr. Ken. Instead he was attacking the comedy persona Ken Jeong has cultivated.
The responses related to a blog post that Fan wrote for the Center for Asian American Media that was harsh on Ken Jeong’s abilities. As the first tweet noted, he actually called Jeong’s comedy “yellowface buffoonery.”
If Dr. Ken is going to succeed, it’ll require Jeong to depart from a trademark style grounded in improv, physicality, and over-the-top blackface and yellowface buffoonery–qualities that don’t necessarily jive with the heavily scripted, multi-camera format, much less primetime television.
While the critic did note he laughed while on Dr. Ken’s set, it’s hard to get past the paragraph that totally says Ken Jeong is doing yellowface. Honestly, shows earn bad reviews all the time. Actors and actresses are sometimes seen as dull or unfit for a particular role. However, taking that a step further and slurring a person’s comedy just because it didn’t come across as well as it maybe could have is just needlessly turning the knife.
It’s part of being a performer to accept criticism when it comes, but obviously there are limits to what actors and actresses are willing to take. If you would like to see what Ken Jeong brings to the table on his new sitcom, you can catch Dr. Ken on Friday, October 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET. In addition, you can find out when the rest of your fall favorites are returning with our fall TV premiere schedule.