In 1994, Margaret Cho starred in an ABC sitcom called All-American Girl – or, as Cho called it, “Saved by the Gong.” It was the first show about about an all-Asian American family on television. If you remember seeing it on TV, you remember how quickly it disappeared. Mainly, it failed because of network meddling with Margaret’s on-screen persona.
First the network decided that she wasn’t skinny enough, and put pressure on Margaret Cho to lose weight to play the part of herself. It didn’t help that show was met with minimal enthusiasm by the Korean-American community; one 12-year-old Korean girl wrote in to say, “when I see Margaret Cho on television, I feel deep shame.” Panicked by this type of reaction, the network decided that Cho wasn’t Asian enough. To improve the situation, they hired an “Asian consultant” to teach Cho about chopsticks and not wearing shoes in the house. For some reason, that didn’t help! After consistently low ratings, the entire cast was fired except for Cho and the grandmother. Shortly thereafter, the show went up in smoke.
Since then, Margaret Cho has done many wonderful things, including eight tours, two books and a burlesque show. But one thing she’s not done since All-American Girl was star in a television show – until now, with the arrival of The Cho Show. It’s the second-ever show about an all-Asian American family; no one’s tried since All-American Girl. Margaret vows that this time – along with her parents (real ones this time), her gays and her elegant 3’10″ co-star Selene Luna – this time, the show gets made on her terms. Episode 1 premiered today, and I quite enjoyed it. The full episode is posted on Margaret Cho’s blog. Go Cho!