Glenn, The Walking Dead, and Asian Men On TV

The Walking Dead (Season 2)

My best friend sent me a clip of Conan O’Brien  and an Asian guy named Steven Yeun going to a Korean spa in Los Angeles.   Like always, Conan had me giggling and I went into fits of laughter as he went butt-naked into the hot tubs (just watch the video, trust me).

Still, when the clip ended I had one question lingering through my mind:

Steven  Yuen Conan

“Who’s that Asian guy?”

“What?” My best friend was in shock.  “Have you not seen The Walking Dead?”

I’m clueless when it comes to the latest “trends” in the United States, since I’ve been in Asia for the previous six years.   All I know is Taylor Swift is played far too much on the radio (and I can’t stand her) and American Idol is (unfortunately) still on the air (right?).  The only show I keep up with is Game of Thrones.

“You HAVE to watch The Walking Dead, Mary!” my friend screamed through the phone.  “And Glenn–the Asian guy–he’s the coolest character in the show!”

An Asian actor in a show that, as I found out with further research, gets the (white) girl in the end?

I had to check it out.

Finally, an Asian-American Character Without All the Nasty Stereotypes

When it comes to Asian actors in Hollywood, a slew of images always come to mind:  thick-rimmed geeks, kung fu masters, or an awkward character with a heavy accent.  Asian-Americans rarely get a chance to make it big in western media without a stereotype attached.  In fact, when Americans see Asians in a movie or TV series, we almost expect them to either be a book-smart nerd that saves the day with math, or a kung fu spy a la Jackie Chan.

Not so with Glenn.

Image courtesy of  Devianart

Image courtesy of Deviantart

Glenn (Steven Yeun) pulls the team together and starts calculating a strategy as early as episode two, when zombies crowd in and start to break down the door to their hideout.  Even in the heat of the moment, he devises a plan and allocates the men so that they can clear a route and escape from the zombies.

“Wow kid,” his fellow survivor remarks.  “What did you do before all this?”

I flinched.  Here it was: He was going to be a big-shot engineer for the federal government, or a math professor at a university, or perhaps even an accountant.

Glenn looks at him in surprise.

“Dude, I was delivering pizzas.”

Not only is Glenn an Asian character without all the accompanying stereotypes, but he’s super likable.  In fact, in an IMDB poll Glenn was voted top three most popular character in the series–and I can see why!  He wasn’t just thrown in there as “the token Asian guy,” he’s a character with real depth, emotion and struggle.  In the show, he’s known and respected throughout the group of survivors as the ‘go-to’ guy for fetching supplies in dangerous regions and sneaking through hordes of zombies.  In fact, Glenn is a vital member of the cast and without him the crew would most definitely be devoured by zombies: He’s essential!

Not Only That, But He Gets The Girl!

glennandmaggie

“Oh, The Walking Dead?  I’ve heard of that show.  There’s an AMWF (asian male, white female) relationship in it” my boyfriend remarked when I asked him about my newly discovered zombie show.  “His girl is pretty cute, too.”

“No way!” my jaw dropped.  “I need to look this up.”

Indeed, Glenn melts the heart of young Maggie, a cute (and tough) southern bell that lives on a farm with her surviving family, protecting them from the undead.

Since I’m in an AMWF relationship, I’m an automatic fan of the couple–but imagine my surprise when I find out that most Walking Dead viewers are cheering for a Maggie and Glenn match.  In fact, fans are so supportive of the couple that a new word has been created in honor of the two: #gleggie.

Even when I type ‘walking dead’ into Google, Maggie’s name automatically pops up following Glenn:

walkingdead

(BTW, really hoping he doesn’t die!  But living 5 seasons in this show is no easy feat, trust me).

The Walking Dead:  A Good Show, But Not For Everyone

I’ve been raving about this show and Glenn for the last 650 words, but unfortunately I can’t recommend it to everyone.  It’s quite violent and it’s not exactly a mood booster.  Despite the deep cast of characters and, in my opinion, the best modern portrayal of an AMWF couple to date yet, this show is not everyone’s cup of tea.

If you can take blood, guts, gore and don’t mind some seriously intense and heart-skipping moments (think of resident evil or silent hill), then I highly recommend that you give The Walking Dead a try.  While it seems like the zombie genre has all but been done over time and time again, this show brings a cast of characters so likable, despicable, dark and deep that you can’t help but wonder how it’s all going to end.

Either way, it makes me happy to see an Asian-American not only featured in popular western media, but also tearing down stereotypes and opening doors for even more Asian actors to appear on the big screen.  FINALLY we get a character that isn’t defined by his race; on the contrary, Glenn is just a regular guy in America, like you and like me.  Whether you’re Chinese, Japanese, black, white or Hispanic, we can all relate to Glenn’s problems (aside from the zombie part) and really, that’s what makes character development (in any show) truly good.

Anyway, I’m off to watch another episode.  Go Glenn!

stevenyeun

26 thoughts on “Glenn, The Walking Dead, and Asian Men On TV

  1. Dain says:

    I stopped watching a bit into season two during some slow episodes, I’ll have to jump back in. Also, the comics are pretty great as well.

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      A lot of ppl tell me it gets old after a while, since it’s basically the same thing over and over again (run, kill, repeat). But I really want to see what happens to the characters. It starts gettin good again at the end of season 2.

  2. R Zhao says:

    I watched the first half of the first season but it was just too scary for me!

    I recently watched an episode of “Off the Boat” which is a US sitcom that started this winter. I think it’s based on the real life of a Chinese American boy in the 1990’s? I thought it was pretty cute and it pokes fun at some Asian stereotypes (and upholds some of them, in a humorous way).

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      Yeah it’s pretty scary haha, I always complain about the show raises my high blood pressure!

      Yes, I’ve been meaning to watch Off the Boat! It’s a brilliant idea! I wonder if I can find it online somewhere..

  3. Lani says:

    I finally watched the Conan Korea Town spa video, as I had seen it, but passed it by. It was funny so I’m glad I did. Yeah, I can’t do gore and that’s why I was soooooooo bummed when Selfie was cancelled. Another Asian male lead that gets the (we presume) girl. But Fresh Off the Boat is an all-Asian cast on primetime, and so we’ll see how it continues to do. I watch GOT, too! Wooohooo!

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      JIMJILBANG!

      Oh man, that conan clip never gets old it’s ilarious. I heard about Selfie, it’s too bad… I didn’t watch it (I heard the reviews weren’t so great), but still, it was a close call. I gotta watch Fresh Off The Boat… so much to seeee!

      And GOT WOO! Only a few more weeks left! Kyahhh!!!! New Season!

  4. Jocelyn Eikenburg says:

    I’ve known about this show for a while and totally applaud the non-stereotypical portrayal of an Asian guy! A friend even sent me a beautiful love scene between Glenn and Maggie. But I can’t watch it b/c I’m one of those people with a super-low tolerance for violence. Sigh. Like Lani, I was bummed about Selfie being cancelled. Whenever Fresh Off the Boat finally arrives here in China on my TV service, I’m looking forward to finally watching it!

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      Yeah even Walking Dead is hard for me to watch sometimes (I also watch it alone, but with my bf very close by just in case). It definitely raises my blood pressure and it’s not a happy-go-lucky show.

      I know, I was hearing really good things about the love story in Selfie–it’s too bad! I also need to watch Fresh Off the Boat: So many shows, too little time!

      I’m sure fresh off the boat will pop up on youku or tudou sooner or later 😉

  5. Marta says:

    I’ve never watched The Walking Dead but I read the comics a few years ago. Well, not all of them, I stopped at issue 60 something because it was neverending and I got bored! Glenn was also cool in the comics 😉

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      Wow I’m super late to reply to this sorry!!! I missed it!

      Anyway, you’re the first person I’ve met that read the comics!! I heard the died in the comics but the TV show is keeping him alive (YAY!!!)

  6. Annabelle says:

    Wow, I hadn’t heard of this character/relationship either! I’ve seen about three episodes of TWD and while I enjoyed them, I haven’t watched any more because I live by myself and I can only watch scary things with other people around haha. Maybe I’ll pick it up when I’m living with other people again. Like the other commenters, I was really bummed out about the cancellation of Selfie. That show definitely had its ups and downs – Eliza’s character was so annoying at times, and the jokes often fell flat – but it did a great job of potraying interracial relationships of all kinds. Plus, I got really (really) invested in the will they/won’t they relationship, which made me even MORE frustrated when it was canned.

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      I’m so sorry for the late reply I missed these comments!

      Yes, it’s a hard show to watch (especially when you live alone). I was scared to watch it at home alone, too, but after watching over 25 episodes I think I have finally become immune to all of the killing, haha.

      I hear so many things about Selfie… I guess I need to check this one out, huh? Did you ever watch Massan in Japan?

  7. Kelly says:

    Never watched that show, but love that there’s a character who happens to be Asian instead of an Asian character! So novel! I might have to watch it for just that reason 🙂

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      It’s actually a half-decent show. Not THE best, but definitely worth a few episodes. Quite gory though, be warned!

      I’m mainly continuing to see how the characters, particularly Glenn, progress. I hear he becomes a badass–lookin forward to that.

  8. 23wolves says:

    You might also enjoy the heroic main guy in Prince of Darkness, a rippin’ horror movie where the main dude also just happens to be Asian and it’s not really brought up. Although I think he does give the Devil a jumpkick.

  9. Charlotte Steggz says:

    You know, this stuff makes me SO happy. There was a film I watched recently called The Almanac Project that also had a cute Asian guy who gets the white girl. It’s a super cute film you should deffo check it out.

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      Wow really!? A new film with an AMWF!?!? I need to watch this, thank you for the recommend!

      Oh my goodness I apologize for the late reply, I don’t know how I missed this!! Yargh.

  10. Cat (talkingofchinese) says:

    Glenn and Maggie are by far my favourite TV couple! While I don’t enjoy watching violence I do love post-apocalyptic TV shows and books – I didn’t start watching The Walking Dead for Glenn and Maggie but I keep watching it for them 🙂

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