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My Turn

by Dmae Roberts


From The Asian Reporter, V27, #24 (December 18, 2017), pages 6 & 16.

Holiday viewing

Ah, the holidays. Itís a time when families get together for food, festivities, and hopefully not to hash out the current volatile state of politics. For many people who live on a tight budget, staying closer to home, like my small family unit, is this yearís plan. With parents gone and many of my husbandís extended family far away in distance or values, a while ago we decided to keep it small, with just my brother, who lives close.

Richard, my husband, loves to cook, so he takes care of the food, including our traditional artichoke Christmas lasagna. I asked him not to make figgy pudding this year because Iím determined to keep off the 25 pounds I lost since summer while also striving to lose another 25 (despite holiday temptations).

My usual task is to find the perfect movie the three of us can watch together. My brother and I enjoy sci-fi or animated movies; Richard is pretty easygoing as long as itís fairly intelligent. At Thanksgiving we finally watched Sing, an animated film featuring animals in a singing competition. The story was told very well and had such compelling characters that I nearly forgot I wasnít watching real animals. I finally decided on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 since the sequel is supposed to be just as fun and adventurous as the first film. Both versions feature diverse casts and are available on Netflix. My brother and I are also planning to watch the BBC America broadcast of the "Doctor Who" Christmas special, which is rumored to unveil the new female doctor. About time!

Making sure there is diversity in the movies and television shows I watch is important to me. It can be difficult to navigate, especially when looking for more family-friendly viewing. Iíve given up on the romantic Hallmark movies because they rarely feature people of color. And when they do, the character is usually just a sidekick friend or co-worker, never the romantic interest.

For those who have On Demand programming, my binge-watching family-friendly recommendations for shows currently airing on Fox include "The Orville" (a Star Trek-type spoof thatís surprisingly good, though it should have included an Asian American or Pacific Islander cast member) and "The Gifted" (about a family with super-powered kids who hide out with diverse people who also have powers).

Also on my list of suggestions are shows that air on The CW and have been around for a while. These include one that focuses on comedic adventures, "Jane the Virgin" (a Latinx comedic telenovela), as well as some with DC Comics superheroes, such as "The Flash," "Arrow," "Supergirl," and "Legends of Tomorrow."

Shows with more serious tones for families with teens include "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (which has two lead female heroes who are Asian American!) and "Once Upon a Time" (a diverse fairytale series), both airing on ABC. Many of the past seasons of these television shows are available on Netflix, which also carries movies such as Okja, an endearing activist story about a Korean girl who loves a genetically created giant, and Moana, a story based on Polynesian mythology from Disney that was remarkably well done.

And honestly, if you havenít been watching "Fresh Off the Boat," the only Asian-American family sitcom nowadays, whatís been keeping you? It has great actors and itís worth watching past episodes on the ABC website or app.

Two other diverse sitcoms that air on NBC include "The Good Place" (past seasons are on Netflix), a show about multicultural misfits stuck in what they believe is a weird heaven, and "Superstore," which has featured three Asian-American leads and focuses on people of all colors who work at a big-box store and fight boredom through interactions with one another as well as bad work ethics. Sounds like any job, right?

The fourth season of "The Librarians" just began and could brighten family time during the holidays. Filmed in the Portland area, the comedic and sometimes slapstick show about librarians who track down magical objects for their fantastical library features an Asian lead actor. Itís also fun to spot numerous local actors in the show. "The Librarians" airs Wednesdays on TNT. Reruns and past seasons are available on Hulu. (If you are not already a streaming member, try out a free trial.)

Using Amazon Prime, 11 seasons of the new "Doctor Who" can be streamed. I recommend seasons 3 and 10, both of which feature a black companion for the doctor, but all the seasons of the revamped show are a great deal of fun and adventure.

As you might be able to tell, I seldom actually go out to the movies. But I do attend stage theatre productions every week in Portland because theatre here is so good. In fact, I recommend adults and older teens check out Twist Your Dickens, which runs through December 31 at Portland Center Stage. Created by The Second City comedy troupe in Chicago, the play features local actors spoofing shows such as A Christmas Carol and Itís a Wonderful Life, as well as bits of political and raunchy humor. Discounted tickets are often available. To learn more, visit <www.pcs.org/current-season/ticket-specials>.

Finally, the one movie Richard and I plan to see in the theater this holiday season is Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the second film in the newest Star Wars trilogy, and a movie that features the most diverse cast for the franchise. Itís also the last film featuring Carrie Fisher, who has played Princess Leia in the franchise since the original film in 1977. She acted in The Last Jedi before her untimely death last year. Richard and I vividly remember the original films, which we still consider nostalgically the best. And we will treat ourselves to a budget matinee after Christmas when hopefully there are fewer crowds.

Whatever your holiday entertainment traditions may be, the important thing is to hang out with family regardless of the specific activity. I wish you and your loved ones a great holiday season and a happy new year!

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