Mr. French Taste: Is the internet the future for cross cultural media?
This Monday make sure to catch the premiere of Mister French Taste debuting on the internet TV station KoldCastTV. The show boasts a cultural motley crew of talent, including Vancouver actor Osric Chau, French-born Olivier Malet, and FHM Malaysia's 'Most Wanted Woman' Sarah Lian, while being directed by Asian American Jennifer Thym. The show follows the life of etiquette coach Mr. French (Malet) who comes to Hong Kong to groom the unruly Leon (Chau) into a gentleman, all the while courting Lily, a wealthy fashionista (Lian).
Recently, the New York Times' Teddy Zee started the conversation on the lack of minorities in television. While he uses the case study of HBO's new show Girls, and its marked omission of minority character, he extends the conversation to all television. I agree with his overall argument, which supports the freedom of expression of writers, directors and producers to create stories that emerge from their personal experience. Simply inserting minority characters into TV shows out of fear of public scrutiny may result in characters that feel forced and shallow. That said, HBO's rival channels AMC and Showtime have been able to include strong Asian characters in both of their flagship shows - Glen on The Walking Dead and Masuka on Dexter. Both exist despite a predominantly white writing cast on these shows, proving it is indeed possible to have meaningfully written minority character on your show without stooping to tokenism.
Internet television has been a home for minority communities in the film industry. YouTube sports plenty of content by Asian American and Asian Canadian actors who haven't been picked up by the mainstream media. Channels by groups like Just Kidding Films or Vancouver's own Peter Chao have been watched by over 10 million viewers. Increasingly, it seems that more and more content creators are opting to forego the mainstream and provide interesting and quality material directly to their audience. As a result of this increasing trend, Schema is excited about Jennifer Thym's Mr. French Taste and what it means for the future of media content that speaks to a cross cultural audience. HBO would do well to take some notes.