Hyphen TV: Petite and Round and Pert

December 13, 2011

Ed finds a perfect garlic bulb.

Well, we knew the Mike Chang Sr/Jr storyline had to end somehow, right? The Glee father and son haven't been speaking to one another (the elder hasn't said a word to his wife, either) but, undeterred, Tina encourages her man to apply to Alvin Ailey, NYU, and other dance schools. Sorry, Tina, he's already applied to Stanford's pre-med program. This leads to a big blow-out between the couple (You need to be committed to dance -- Maybe your dad was right vs Maybe my dad's right -- we shouldn't be together) but, undeterred once AGAIN, Tina takes it upon herself to visit Mr. Chang at work with a DVD of the McKinley High production of West Side Story in hand. The girl is dedicated, I'll give her that.

Mr Chang has no interest in watching any musicals, explaining that he's concerned about the heartache that Tina and his son will have pursuing a career in entertainment because of the lack of opportunities. A fair enough statement, but jeez, no need to get Tina down too, dude. Tina jokes about there being a Joy Luck Club musical (oh, I would so watch that, actually), and then says she doesn't care how hard it is; entertaining is what she and Mike were born to do. And here's where I hit pause and think, this is a really realistic conversation on what is becoming a more and more fantastical show. Show business is hard business for ANYone, regardless of race (or talent level, or overt gayness, or any of the other things that set the various characters on this show apart from the others), and it's absolutely true that it's even harder for a performer who has looks Asian. It would have been absolutely fascinating if this tertiary character of Mr Chang brought in the cold light of truth and showed these kids just how tough their dreams really are. Because ... well, they're extremely tough. If any of them succeed at all (and we won't even get into what it means to "succeed" as a performer), it will only be after incredible amounts of sacrifice and luck have worked their magic. As we near the end of senior year for several of Glee's main characters, it will be interesting to see how the show deals with the "real" world outside of McKinley.

Tina makes ruffley tuxedo shirts look good.

But -- spoiler alert -- that ain't happenin' today. Because of course Tina was dismissed from Mr Chang's office, of course Mike is furious about Tina's meddling, which only made his home situation worse (seriously, Mr Chang, you won't even talk to your WIFE?!), of course dad walks in just as Mike's big number (the Jackson 5's "ABC," with lead vocals by Mike and Tina, for some reason) begins, and of course this three-minute, not particularly dance-y performance totally turns dad around and convinces him that, yes, of course Mike must apply to all the best dance schools. Sigh. On the one hand, I'm so happy to have some Asian American role models out there for the kids, showing them that you can be in the arts. On the other ... do I even need to say it? It's abundantly clear that there is NO Asian representation on the writing staff, because this is about as realistic as if Mike sprouted wings and flew to NYU. Honestly, that's how realistic it would be for ANY kid and his or her reasonable parent. Hey kids, all you have to do is get your stubborn parent to watch one great performance! And to top it all off, the final lesson in this story? Tina already mailed Mike's applications to dance programs -- by forging his signature on them! Ha, ha, ha! Oh, that Tina. The forgery is just the icing on the show's cake of lies.


Things aren't looking much better for Edna on Survivor. After being outed as the lowest ranking tribemate in the last tribal council, Edna removes herself from the rest of the tribe, referring several times to her status as a "second-class citizen." Now, don't get me wrong; I completely understand how humiliating and upsetting it must feel to be talked about by people you generally respect as if you're an annoyance to be dealt with. I get that. But her constant reiteration of her surprise at this feeling convinces me that Edna does not have the crucial social skills (in particular, self-awareness) to really do well in this game. It's been well established that several (if not all) of the other contestants have found Edna overly talkative, dull, or intrusive on prior occasions. You never get the full story on shows like this, but I'm wondering how and why Edna wasn't keenly aware of how she was coming off from the moment she arrived so that she could adjust accordingly. Still, she did win me back a bit in the latter half of the episode.

"I finally figured out that you guys don't like me."

Oh, I guess I should mention that this was the "loved ones" week, where each contestant has someone special flown in for hugs and tears. Edna wasn't one of the chosen ones, so we only got a brief moment with her sister Debbie, but we did get to hear about Edna's love and pride for her sister, and how she doesn't tell Debbie that enough. Aww. Hug your siblings extra tight the next time you see them, you guys.

During the immunity challenge, Brandon told Jeff that he was specifically trying to get Edna out. All my aforementioned arguments aside, that was just plain rude. She's clearly on the outs and has no good allies ... don't kick someone when she's down, dude. Not cool. However, this move did finally spur Edna to real action, arguing to everyone back at camp that Brandon is the one who's full of deceit and ill-will on a tribe that is supposedly about "honor, loyalty, and integrity." She makes an impassioned plea to her tribemates to consider the fact that she has little chance of winning (and is therefore a harmless potential part of the finale) and has never acted in the sometimes despicable, always confusing way that Brandon has. Though she struck a couple weird notes (comparing Brandon's apologizing for his challenge threat to apologizing for beating your wife, saying that her confidence in Coach was so great that she would eat his feces), it was good to see Edna looking clearheaded, aware, and strong for the first time on the show. She was voted out anyway, but maybe she'll beat Ozzy next week and get back in the game? Wouldn't that be crazy?!

On Top Chef, the contestants had to deal with two classics: making sauces for the Quickfire, and serving up some steak in the Dallas elimination. When Bev did a teriyaki-style take on her sauce, a competitor bitterly commented that she's "always cooking Asian food." Hmm, interesting. She and Nyesha landed in the bottom. Paul landed in the top for his sauce over quail, mushrooms, and okra, particularly nice because they're cooking in the kitchen in which he trained in culinary school.

            Paul works on a menu, but there's something interesting going on to his left.

Bev was in the group that took on the first course, a soup with shrimp that she handled. She was criticized by others for spending the entire time just on de-veining and prepping the shrimp; she was called selfish and "so focused on saving her own ass." Heather, who wasn't even working with Bev, said in front of everyone before judging that she didn't think Bev did enough. Wow, completely unnecessary. Particularly bitchy because Heather went on to win the challenge and a car. Cut to Beverly looking very unhappy indeed. My frown matched yours, Bev.

Paul and Ed were on the second course, New York strip steak served with tomato salad. Paul went completely under the radar, but Ed landed in the bottom for his salad, the judges criticizing the lack of skill that went into his dish and the fact that he had "no point of view." And yeah, I can see where two days of work leading to some asparagus and raw cherry tomatoes would be pretty disappointing. Thankfully, someone else did even worse on her dish, and Ed was safe.

Nyesha was on the third course, providing compound butter and sauce for the grilled rib eye. The steaks completely went to hell (timing issues were the main culprit), but Nyesha's elements helped to save the flaming wreck of the course, adding "nuance and integrity" to the ruined dish. Well done, Nyesha! I don't fully understand what compound butter is, but I would like some, please.

On Work of Art, the artists had to sell their wares on the street in pairs, and whichever duo made the most money was safe from elimination. Sara chose to work with Young, and she decided to stay within her wheelhouse and do watercolors while he went straight for the most commercial product and decided to decorate t-shirts. At American Apparel (where all three teams headed to grab materials for wearable art), Young decided to expand into underwear as well, also grabbing short shorts for him and Sara to wear because "my boyfriend loves my butt...it's very petite and round and pert." Hey, sex sells. A competitor made a comment on his "super hootchie mama shorts." Young then got to work making simple, cartoony figures on shirts, underwear, and pieces of cardboard. It's not his most impressive work, but I admit I'd pick some of his stuff up (maybe not the googly-eyed undies). Sara starts running out of watercolors, which I also think would be lovely on my wall, and starts doing $10 portraits. A line forms; her pen drawings also look quite beautiful. Dang, wish I had been in TriBeCa that day.

For the gallery show, Young recreated the googly-eyed underwear as paintings and was quickly reprimanded for doing so. “Is this your assumption? That we’re so limited that we can only see a painting as a work of art?” the judges asked. Ooo, ouch. But don't worry: between them, Young and Sara earned $449, the most of any group, and were immune from elimination. It should be noted that Sara alone made $320, more than either of the other pairs' earnings combined. Whoa! May I reiterate my desire for a portrait, Sara?


Dianne Choie


Dianne Choie's TV is in Brooklyn, NY. She has a cat, several reusable shopping bags, and other mildly annoying stereotypes of youngish people who live in Brooklyn.