Never Have I Ever

(Photo by Netflix)

31 Important TV Shows About the Asian American and Pacific Islander Experience

Hollywood does not have a good track record of depicting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. They’ve traditionally been marginalized as the sidekicks to a (white, male) crime-fighter or have been stereotyped as punchlines or comic relief in sitcoms.

But, especially as there has been a bigger push for diversity in storytelling on TV, some shows have stood out as more positive portrayals of AAPI characters. We’ve rounded up a list of some of them, which include Anna May Wong’s groundbreaking work in The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong (it was a part written just for her and aired in the 1950s!) and Pat Morita’s work in the short-lived comedy Mr. T and Tina (the Welcome Back, Kotter spin-off was one of the first to feature a predominantly Asian American cast).

More recent series on this list include Young Rock, which is based on the life of the half-Samoan Dwayne Johnson, and PEN15, where half-Japanese comedian Maya Erskine plays a version of younger herself — and cast her actual mother, Mutsuko Erskine, to play her mom. Ensemble shows, such as the medical dramas ERGrey’s Anatomy, and The Good Doctor; dramedy Orange Is the New Black; and comedy Silicon Valley are also included for their work in spotlighting AAPI roles. And the miniseries The Night Of was included because of its portrayal of the racism that so many AAPI people face — in this case, Riz Ahmed’s Pakistani American Naz Khan.

Other shows were left off the list mostly on a technicality; Lost’s Jin (Daniel Dae Kim), Sun (Yunjin Kim), and Sayid (Naveen Andrews) were not included simply because their characters were not Asian American. Whereas, London-set Killing Eve’s lead, Sandra Oh, is Korean Canadian, but her character, the titular Eve Polastri, is from Connecticut. As Oh herself deadpanned at the 2019 Emmy ceremony when she was nominated for best actress in a drama series, “It’s an honor just to be Asian.”


Read on to learn more about some of the most important series about the Asian American and Pacific Islander experience.

Are there shows you think should be on the list? Tell us in the comments! 

Andi Mack (2017)

Synopsis: Life goes from routine to a roller-coaster ride overnight for artistic teenager Andi Mack. It all happens on the eve... [More]

All-American Girl (1994)

Synopsis: A college graduate works at a store while trying to move up in the world.... [More]

Synopsis: Nora Lum and her cousin struggle with young adulthood in Flushing, N.Y., with a little help from her father and... [More]

Black Sash (2003)

Synopsis: Tom Chang, a disgraced ex-cop, attempts to rebuild his life as a martial-arts teacher and mentor to his teen students.... [More]

Dr. Ken (2015)

Synopsis: Doctor-turned-comedic actor Ken Jeong plays the titular character in this sitcom about a brilliant physician with a questionable bedside manner.... [More]

ER (1994)

Synopsis: Set in Chicago, this medical drama deals with the personal and professional crises of the doctors in the emergency room... [More]

Fresh Off the Boat (2015)

Synopsis: Based on chef Eddie Huang's best-selling memoir of the same name, "Fresh Off the Boat" takes a humorous look at... [More]



Synopsis: Shaun Murphy, a young autistic surgeon who has savant syndrome, relocates from a quiet country life to join the surgical... [More]

Grey's Anatomy (2005)

Synopsis: The medical drama series focuses on a group of doctors at a hospital in Seattle, including several who began their... [More]

Killing Eve (2018)

Synopsis: Eve's life as a spy is not adding up to what she had hoped it would be when she started.... [More]

Kung Fu (2021)

Synopsis: A quarter-life crisis causes a young Chinese-American woman, Nicky Shen, to drop out of college and go on a life-changing... [More]



Master of None (2015)

Synopsis: Comic Aziz Ansari and writer Alan Yang are the creators of this Netflix-original comedy, which is loosely based on Ansari's... [More]

The Mindy Project (2012)

Synopsis: Mindy Lahiri is a successful, skilled doctor, but when she leaves the office, all bets are off. She aspires to... [More]





Never Have I Ever (2020)

Synopsis: The complicated life of a first-generation Indian-American teenager.... [More]

Nikita (2010)

Synopsis: Maggie Q stars as Nikita, a young woman who was rescued from death row by a secret government agency known... [More]



Synopsis: Piper Chapman is a public relations executive with a career and a fiance when her past suddenly catches up to... [More]

PEN15 (2019)

Synopsis: This comedy series depicts middle school as it really happened. Comics Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play versions of themselves... [More]

Quantico (2015)

Synopsis: This thrilling drama from executive producers Michael Seitzman and Mark Gordon explores the lives of young government agents as they... [More]

Synopsis: Sanjay Patel doesn't know the meaning of "uncool" or "impossible." The 12-year-old has great curiosity and excitement about the world.... [More]
Directed By: Will McRobb

Silicon Valley (2014)

Synopsis: Partially inspired by co-creator Mike Judge's experiences as a Silicon Valley engineer in the 1980s, this comedy series follows the... [More]

Sunnyside (2019)

Synopsis: Garrett Modi, the youngest Queens councilman ever elected, was a rising star in New York politics until he was pushed... [More]

The Terror: Infamy (2019)

Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: Real-world and supernatural horrors collide in Infamy, an exceptionally well-crafted ghost story that creeps under the skin and stays there.



Warrior (2019)

Synopsis: A crime drama that takes place in the latter half of the 19th century during brutal gang wars in San... [More]

Wu Assassins (2019)

Synopsis: An unassuming San Francisco chef becomes the latest in a line of assassins chosen to keep the mystical Wu powers... [More]

Young Rock (2021)

Synopsis: As Dwayne Johnson runs for president in 2032, he takes a comedic look back at his extraordinary life through the... [More]

Tag Cloud

green book critics cults Epix Marathons El Rey best indie comedies ABC Schedule justice league ratings book posters Classic Film blockbusters award winner mutant sag awards USA Network twilight Biopics italian worst elevated horror VOD spanish casting Britbox historical drama Character Guide sequels San Diego Comic-Con Sundance Fall TV Netflix Christmas movies children's TV japan serial killer Amazon Prime cancelled slasher NYCC aliens Amazon Studios SundanceTV Baby Yoda satire miniseries Extras video Trivia cooking The Witch monster movies adaptation dceu nature Valentine's Day 2021 Martial Arts revenge Tumblr Image Comics comics period drama new york concert scorecard discovery Anna Paquin action-comedy breaking bad chucky Endgame Hulu ViacomCBS Paramount Plus black Musicals spanish language Song of Ice and Fire Fox Searchlight independent Spectrum Originals President zombie cancelled TV series 24 frames BET HBO witnail teaser true crime TruTV what to watch Hallmark fast and furious 45 boxing PBS psycho Comedy young adult basketball marvel cinematic universe The Arrangement Ellie Kemper international The Academy TV movies finale films X-Men asian-american heist movie transformers werewolf series Brie Larson golden globes jurassic park Hallmark Christmas movies scene in color Animation Syfy medical drama documentaries parents Nominations Pop TV The Walking Dead National Geographic foreign Sundance TV Holiday cinemax hidden camera 2020 See It Skip It Winter TV latino sequel Disney Plus TCA 2017 Opinion Esquire LGBT nbcuniversal supernatural sports Pride Month Star Wars Quiz suspense strong female leads BET Awards Shudder HBO Go zero dark thirty 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Lionsgate kids Countdown Lucasfilm diversity Heroines spain Marvel WarnerMedia TLC Columbia Pictures stop motion anthology Musical ESPN TCM Nat Geo rom-coms Awards Shondaland FX criterion indiana jones Oscars First Reviews 2016 Emmys DC Universe Country Superheroe Ovation king kong Set visit dragons rt archives Ghostbusters comic franchise Black Mirror Amazon Starz Paramount zombies book adaptation singing competition video on demand NBC Spike Disney royal family Star Trek renewed TV shows rotten cats spider-man TCA Winter 2020 free movies New York Comic Con American Society of Cinematographers Writers Guild of America rotten movies we love robots hispanic heritage month Pop Thanksgiving mcc PlayStation Sci-Fi natural history Universal Film Festival dark name the review Arrowverse fresh 90s talk show Vudu space NBA comic books festival Comic Book crossover CMT women technology Avengers Rock Election mission: impossible Mudbound streaming Showtime Logo ITV Video Games FX on Hulu Christmas Best and Worst joker war 2017 movies Awards Tour 1990s TV Land cars CW Seed History popular ghosts screenings 2015 ABC Signature Calendar ABC Family psychological thriller Apple TV Plus First Look comiccon Reality rt labs BBC One rt labs critics edition The Walt Disney Company Apple APB Rocketman Food Network prank television crime thriller police drama blockbuster travel dc The Purge Television Critics Association directors emmy awards Peacock Action Sundance Now venice toy story IFC AMC superman 71st Emmy Awards Rom-Com Walt Disney Pictures Disney Channel vampires mockumentary critic resources halloween tv Mystery Summer VH1 trailers harry potter Warner Bros. spinoff Horror 2019 marvel comics LGBTQ universal monsters 99% hispanic know your critic toronto movie live action Chernobyl GoT Crackle quibi Legendary animated GLAAD debate The CW TBS lord of the rings 007 20th Century Fox Stephen King Tokyo Olympics blaxploitation Mindy Kaling Mary Poppins Returns Hear Us Out Cosplay target Year in Review tv talk remakes Tubi Pirates laika E! Funimation Black History Month Western Disney+ Disney Plus comic book movie Amazon Prime Video Wes Anderson Elton John Lifetime Cannes legend Creative Arts Emmys theme song cops Paramount Network unscripted OneApp USA 21st Century Fox Nickelodeon cancelled television hist BBC 4/20 Winners DC streaming service Marvel Studios game of thrones razzies Dark Horse Comics Holidays Toys versus TV Masterpiece TCA Awards political drama CBS romance sitcom richard e. Grant Lifetime Christmas movies A&E politics biography batman south america saw Red Carpet festivals E3 BBC America romantic comedy canceled TV shows Super Bowl Crunchyroll boxoffice Cartoon Network Fantasy TIFF TV One adventure Photos Family Trailer slashers deadpool SDCC Tomatazos Emmy Nominations CBS All Access classics TNT streaming movies gangster Infographic kaiju Captain marvel telelvision Superheroes RT21 DC Comics Discovery Channel all-time GIFs DirecTV 93rd Oscars halloween Pacific Islander canceled Women's History Month OWN superhero 72 Emmy Awards crime CNN Bravo Spring TV child's play Binge Guide documentary Academy Awards Broadway YouTube Premium stoner A24 Travel Channel nfl VICE japanese archives Premiere Dates stand-up comedy Drama Television Academy Mary poppins Exclusive Video composers new star wars movies australia Alien feel good reboot YouTube Red die hard thriller WGN MTV Turner Classic Movies Adult Swim MCU french scary movies Fox News social media a nightmare on elm street Grammys Chilling Adventures of Sabrina MSNBC Pet Sematary kong cartoon godzilla high school based on movie disaster james bond Comics on TV Comedy Central Certified Fresh Comic-Con@Home 2021 dexter comic book movies PaleyFest Reality Competition 73rd Emmy Awards Interview Film YA Netflix Rocky anime Kids & Family docuseries Box Office olympics worst movies Trophy Talk game show Apple TV+ news Freeform Disney streaming service 2018 wonder woman Polls and Games DGA facebook dogs hollywood Podcast Watching Series Turner FXX golden globe awards Pixar Sony Pictures crime drama spy thriller cancelled TV shows dramedy IFC Films reviews adenture TCA science fiction TV renewals aapi new zealand Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt docudrama Acorn TV binge Tarantino pirates of the caribbean FOX BAFTA jamie lee curtis Mary Tyler Moore YouTube HBO Max football Sneak Peek doctor who RT History Marvel Television ID biopic SXSW obituary Teen king arthur screen actors guild christmas movies Music