This list has been a long time coming, and it is important to acknowledge that where Australia is still dominated with white centrism and fails to adequately adhere to cultural representation, there have been some Asian Australian shows and TV personalities who have broken through the ceiling. Of course if we open this widely there are a number of awesome Indigenous and other POC TV shows and personalities who have broken through the white institution in Australia, but for the purposes of this post, we will focus on 10 Australian shows which demonstrate how awesome Asian Australians are. This will be part of the ongoing series of recording Asian Australians and will be part of this “BEING ASIAN AUSTRALIAN” project. Anyways, here are the 10 shows ( in no particular order) which has Asian Australian representation. Just as a final note before this list, it was a struggle to even come up with 10… so that will tell you a lot:
1. THE FAMILY LAW (SBS)
THE FAMILY LAW is by far one of my favourite shows on Australian TV, and I have watched seasons 1 and 2 more than twice and awaiting for the final season ( 3) which will premiere in Australia tonight. The show is based on the life and book written by BENJAMIN LAW and is about
the story of a dysfunctional Chinese-Australian family over the course of a long, hot summer on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, as told through the eyes of their 14-year-old son Benjamin.
There are a number of reasons why this show is awesome for representation. The main thing is that it focuses on a typical Asian Australian family which go through the everyday problems any other Australian family would go through. Despite it being a comedy, it really touches on important issues such as family woes, relationships and sexuality. It also features an all Asian Australian cast in leading roles and is produced by Asian Australians.
2. SBS POP ASIA (SBS)
SBS POP ASIA is a music show with all the new songs coming out of Asia – K Pop, J Pop, C Pop etc. It really is the epitome of an Asian show, but here is the twist. The current show host is none other than Asian Australian ANDY TRIEU, who hosts it with fun and pizzazz. It is Australia’s #1 Asian pop network on radio, TV and online streaming. Trieu brings a refreshing change to Australian variety style shows which usually have a white Australian host and hardly any diversity.
There are a number of reasons why this show is awesome for representation. Firstly its primary focus is on Asia pop and Asian pop only. For many Australians who are not well acquainted with the Asian pop scene, this provides a great insight for them to understand how huge the industry is in Asia. Also the show has been around for awhile ( obviously starting point was on radio) but it has always maintained Asian Australian hosts starting with JAMAICA DELA CRUZ and now Trieu. A show which needs to be kept because it is pretty much fully Asian Australian.
3. INTERNATIONAL STUDENT (ABC)
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT is another awesome series created by comedian RONNY CHIENG. It is loosely based on his own life when he was a university student in Australia and the obstacles, challenges and achievements he went through and experienced as an international student from Malaysia. It is a very comedic look into his university life and if season 1 is any indication, season 2 will be even more funnier and filled with more adventures.
There are a number of reasons why this show is awesome for representation. Firstly, it has an entire Asian Australian leading cast, and for that it gets my tick. In addition, the comedy is tasteful and really provides a humorous take on how life is for Asian international students in Australia.
4. STREET SMART (Ten Network)
STREET SMART is a comedy about a guy named Steve who puts a gang together in Western Sydney. It was marketed as a show which would be promoting cultural diversity and looking at the cast it definitely was. In its main cast of leads you would have seen ANDY TRIEU playing the character HUNG and in the supporting cast, you would see MARIA TRAN who played TRANS PHAT. It is not a show which should be critically examined but it is just purely a comedy about everyday people living in Western Sydney. From reading the news on it, Network Ten is not renewing the series for this year, but there may be a chance in 2020. Re-runs will be played this year of the first season, so check it out if you can to support the Asian Australians in it.
There are a number of reasons why this show is awesome and that is it again includes Asian Australian actors as leads and supporting cast. It also doesn’t really present any negative stereotypes and it shows that Asian Australians can do well in shows which are not necessarily focused on “Asian” issues.
5. DESTINATION FLAVOUR (SBS)
DESTINATION FLAVOUR is a cooking/food show on SBS Food Network. It is hosted by TV chef, and former Masterchef Australia winner ADAM LIAW and he basically travels around the world savoring different cuisines and he will cook various dishes using local ingredients.
There are a number of reasons why this show is awesome, because firstly it is hosted by Liaw, who is not only an awesome TV chef but who is also active on Twitter and speaks on social issues. But back to the show – it is well made and Liaw is an awesome host for it – it also shows that Asian Australians can be awesome TV hosts and hold a mainstream audience.
6. MAXIMUM CHOPPAGE (ABC)
MAXIMUM CHOPPAGE is a comedy which aired back in 2015 on ABC. It follows the character Simon Chan (played by comedian LAWRENCE LEUNG) who has returned to his hometown after many years training in a faraway martial arts temple. However, it’s only a matter of time before everyone discovers the truth is that Simon was at Marshall’s Art School, in Melbourne. This was an awesome comedy and in its own way broke the stereotype of presenting Asians and martial arts.
There are a number of reasons why this show was awesome. It was born out of the idea by MARIA TRAN and its cast was pretty much all Asian Australian. The leads and most of the supporting cast were culturally diverse and it shows that Asian Australians can have have fun and positively present the stereotypes which generally burdens us. I wish this show had another season, but hey its 2019 so who knows, maybe we will see a comeback for this comedy series.
7. MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA ( Ten Network)
MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA may be a competition reality show, but if you look at all the past seasons since season 1 (2009) in the top 10 there has been Asian Australians on every season. And 3 Asian Australians have won the entire competition ( Adam Liaw won the 2012 season). Despite the fact this show is a competition, I enjoy seeing the number of Asian Australians who make the top contestants and it has been a trend since it started.
Unlike the fictional shows, MASTERCHEF shows that Asians are good at chef style cooking and are versatile with the types of cuisines they can cook. It has also spearheaded the culinary careers of a number of Asian Australians who are either popular TV chefs like Liaw or who are owning their own restaurant chains.
8. COASTAL KITCHEN (SBS)
COASTAL KITCHEN is another cooking show similar to DESTINATION FLAVOUR and is hosted by PETER KURUVITA who creates dishes inspired by his Sri Lankan and Austrian upbringing ( his parents). Kuruvita is a chef and a restaurateur in his own right and the show is him driving around Australia savoring local cuisines and cooking dishes using local ingredients.
The show is awesome because again the main host of the show is of Asian Australian background and its not just a show about Asian food, but he cooks dishes which are truly Australian, so in that case I think it is pretty awesome.
9. THE LIVING ROOM ( Ten Network)
THE LIVING ROOM is a lifestyle variety show which has done extremely well in Australia and has won multiple awards. Even though the main presenters are not Asian Australian, one of its regular experts who is on the show is of Asian Australian background: JAMIE DURIE.
Durie has been on Australian TV for a number of years but it is in the more recent years that he has made a bigger name for himself. By trade he is a landscaper and has had his own show which has been aired on US lifestyle channel HGTV. Even though he does not overtly talk about his Asian Australian background, he has been around for 18 years and deserves to be credited for his work on Australian TV.
10. FASHIONISTA (SBS)
FASHIONISTA is a lifestyle show which is hosted by Asian Australian TV news reporter LEE LIN CHIN who is known as Australia’s iconic fashion guru. Chin has been an SBS News TV presenter/reporter for decades and her popularity is to do with her eccentric personality. The show Fashionista is her interviewing different designers, stylists etc about fashion and the show has done well on SBS.
Chin is a veteran on Australian TV and deserves credit for being on there for such a long time and continually going from strength to strength. In the more recent years she has branched out to do more comedy skits and now having her own show. Great to see her representing Asian Australians.