On the NBC reached comedy, “The Good Place, “ Manny Jacinto plays, well, a lovable moronic.
The show follows groupings of strangers brought closer in the afterlife. Jacinto’s character, Jason Mendoza, is always a little behind on the group’s promptly altering programs. But the aspiring DJ and Jacksonville Jaguars fan with a gentle spirit is often the heart of this charming comedy.
But while the hapless boob is a pretty common television trope, there’s one thing that sets Jason Mendoza apart from the remainder — he’s Filipino-American.
It is truly rare to see Asian-American personas on tv, let alone one who isn’t high-achieving, bookish, or an otherwise simulation minority.
Mike Schur, the architect of “The Good Place, ” took this into account when developing the show’s cast of characters.
“They were trying to figure out something different and one of the things that popped up was that you don’t actually watch a lot of dumb Asian guys on mainstream television, ” Jacinto said in a recent interview with Vulture . “He’s generally intelligent or the simulate minority. I’m not saying playing Jason is pioneering, but it’s absolutely amazing in order to be allowed to do because it’s not a stereotype.”
Now, full disclosure, Jason was confused for a silent Buddhist monk from Taiwan named Jianyu for the first few episodes of the indicate, and it looked like we’d is accurate back into Asian stereotype area.( It’s a delightful divulge, and though I merely divulged it, “theres lots” more where that came from .)
But on the whole, “The Good Place” operates difficult to subvert and call out culture stereotypes through attribute evolution and sharp publish. Even in a place as perfect as paradise, Mendoza is offered tofu instead of his favorite snack, buffalo wings. And he commiserates to main attribute Eleanor, played by Kristen Bell, “Everyone here guesses I’m Taiwanese. I’m Filipino. That’s racist. Heaven is so racist.”
But even while calling out stereotypes and rethinking representation, Jason Mendoza’s ethnicity isn’t the crux of his character. And that’s various kinds of awesome.
“His culture doesn’t make up his character, ” Jacinto said in an interview with Mochi publication . When Jason connects with other attributes of color, there’s no pressure to push on his background. “They’re having a normal conversation as people. It’s not something you see in mainstream media at all — typically, there’s some kind of culture joke.”
This doesn’t mean his background gets deleted or discounted — just the opposite. Jason Mendoza gets to be Filipino-American, and a huge Blake Bortles stan who has a fondness for EDM. Like all of us, he’s the intersection of a lot of strange and wonderful things. Why shouldn’t TV demonstrate all of that?
Roles like this remind us that while colorblind casting affords great opportunities to actors of colour, sometimes there’s charm in specificity.
Sterling K. Brown, who won a Golden Globe for his role as Randall Pearson in the NBC drama, “This Is Us, ” made a point to mention this in his acceptance speech, emphasis added.
“Dan Fogelman, you wrote a role for a black guy that could only be played by a black human. What I acknowledge so much about this is that I’m being find for who I am and being appreciated for who I am. And it makes it that much more difficult to reject me, or reject any person who is looks like me.”
What it comes down to is this: representation matters.
Seeing person like you, with your skin color, spiritual background, age, sexual direction, and disability benefits is no small thing. It can invigorate, change minds, and move people to act. Every role on every appearance gives Hollywood another chance to get it privilege. Not just for top aptitude, but for the children( and Jacksonville Jaguar-loving adults) watching and wondering if anyone find them too.