Dr. Ken: Season 1/ Episode 1 “Pilot” [Series Premiere] – Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)

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Overview

For those of you familiar with Cristela, consider this series an Asian version of that one, but maybe a bit less abrasive. Though not by a whole lot.          

Characters & Story

In the premiere, we are introduced to Dr. Ken (Ken Jeong) who pretty much fits the persona we have come to know from Mr. Jeong. His character is eccentric, deprecating but, a talented doctor. Though the difference between this character and Jeong’s many others is that Dr. Ken has a family. One which is comprised of his wife Allison (Suzy Nakamura), a psychologist who tries to balance out his crazy; Molly (Krista Marie Yu), a seemingly stereotypical girl, who is smarter than she appears; and his son Dave (Albert Tsai), who seemingly is as weird as his father, but without malice and his father’s mouth.

Now, as a whole, the premiere episode doesn’t really stray from what we are used to. Dr. Ken is presented as the weird father to his grounded wife; the kids are as most kids are on any show; and, when it comes to Dr. Ken’s workplace, he has the usual odd co-workers and of course a butthole of a boss named Pat (Dave Foley). One which reminds me of Cristela’s boss since he says so much which would make him seem racist.

Praise

While not a huge fan of Mr. Jeong, it is undeniable that he is funny. In fact, while many of his co-stars seem a bit too odd, or almost begging for a laugh, he finds a strange middle ground. One in which he plays the usual odd character we have come to know him for and, despite his jokes not necessarily being top notch, you’ll still get a laugh or two here and there.

Criticism

I believe there may come a point in time where diversity will no longer be an issue, but the production itself being something of quality. Which isn’t to say this premiere was bad, but simply that it may take some time to get used to Jeong as a lead actor. Mostly because, like damn near every comedian today, he just doesn’t seem diverse. He, like Kevin Hart, Will Ferrell, and many modern comedians, in my opinion, don’t really show range. He is the crazy guy and, combined with this being a sitcom, the odd dad. And while I love the idea of diversity, again, like similarly said with Quantico, all the diversity in the world doesn’t make up for a seemingly generic program.

Overall: Stick Around

As more and more diverse productions actually see the light of day, I’m left wondering 2 things: The first being, will it simply be what we are long used to with different colored faces? Then I wonder to myself, am I harder on these productions because I’m so used to thinking that it only takes one to ruin it for many? Now, the first question I feel I have gone over enough, but the 2nd one I think needs to be addressed. For I really do fear that despite the success of Shonda Rhimes, Empire, and the few shows which feature an Asian or Latinx predominate cast, this could all just be an era. Similar to how in the late 80s and 90s, there were a ton of shows featuring Black predominate cast. Yet, sometime after 2000, especially after UPN was no more, people of color having diverse representation became sparse.

Thus making it so whenever there is a movie, or show, featuring people of color, unfortunately, hopes are high for they can either be the beacon of hope, or the anvil which continues to sink the possibility of diversity further. Now, as for what those thoughts and feelings have to do with Dr. Ken? Well, it is because Dr. Ken doesn’t seem exemplary. It is just, to me, another sitcom, but with the standout being that the lead, and main cast members, are Asian. Which, as noted, isn’t enough. I mean, I’m sure, like with Empire, many of the culture/ race will support it, but the real question is can that audience be maintained long term just because they see faces like theirs? Well, only time will tell.

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