Review: ABC Continues to Promote Diversity with New Show ‘Dr. Ken’


Ken Jeong plays Dr. Ken Park, a physician who struggles to balance his career and his family life in humorous instances.

Emily Luong


Ken Jeong plays Dr. Ken Park, a physician who struggles to balance his career and his family life in humorous instances.Ken Jeong plays Dr. Ken Park, a physician who struggles to balance his career and his family life in humorous instances.

A growing trend that is quickly gaining attention among television watchers, the appearance of actors and actresses of racial minorities is breaking down the long-held tradition of a whitewashed television industry. Paving the way for accurate representation of the diversity of its audience, television network ABC created shows such as “Black-ish” and “Fresh Off The Boat” that consist of a majority of African and Asian American actors and actresses, respectively. On October 2,  “Dr. Ken” joined ABC and its channel mates in a thirty minute pilot filled with laughs and hope for greater minority representation and recognition in the entertainment industry.

With 6.7 million people watching the pilot, “Dr. Ken” produced a strong turnout in comparison to the premieres of television shows such as FOX’s “Grandfathered” and “The Grinder”. Created, written, and co-executive produced by lead actor Ken Jeong, “Dr. Ken” undoubtedly provides minorities a chance to showcase their underrepresented skills in television. “Dr. Ken” documents Dr. Ken Park’s (Ken Jeong) daily life of treating patients and his struggles to balance his family life and his career. In the show’s first episode, Dr. Ken must deal with his “whining and complaining” patients; whereas, back at home, his extreme over-protectiveness over his teenage daughter Molly (Krista Marie Yu) causes problems when she gets her driver’s license.

Throughout the episode, Dr. Ken continuously mocks his patients and his family in humorous instances. The episode begins with a scene in which Dr. Ken makes fun of one of his patients because the patient refuses to listen to him. Dr. Ken’s sarcasm during this scene establishes the type of humor seen throughout the episode. When Dr. Ken’s son Dave (Albert Tsai) plans on taking part in his school’s talent show as a mime, Dr. Ken cannot help but express his distaste for his son’s ‘lame’ talent, much to the dismay of his wife Allison (Suzy Nakamura).

Because “Dr. Ken” is centered around an Asian cast, audience members were no doubt anticipating several references to race. During the pilot episode, surprisingly, only a few subtle references were made. In one instance Dr. Ken speaks Korean to imitate his father. Later, Dr. Ken’s boss threatens to fire his “Asian ass” because the patient that Dr. Ken was sarcastic to earlier in the episode was planning on suing the medical office for his rudeness. Despite that there are mentions of race in “Dr. Ken”, they are nowhere near as obvious as those in “Fresh Off The Boat”. Instead of connecting to the diversity of the audience through racial stereotypes, “Dr. Ken” focuses more on comedy as its main source of entertainment for the audience.

ABC is praised for allowing minorities to take the spotlight in television. Showcasing their talents in comedy sitcoms, minorities prove to critics that they have what it takes to produce quality content. As television networks cast more minorities, it is likely that minorities be a major presence in drama and action orientated shows as well.