Netflix has been really on point with their First-Generation American programming. As the son of immigrants, it’s really an amazing feeling to see and enjoy entertainment that accurately, hilariously, and emotionally taps into my experience as an American. This must be what white people feel all the time!
Episode 2 of Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None” is the best representation of the complicated relationship between the American child and the immigrant parent.
As soon as I saw it, I invited my mom over to watch the episode. Invited is the significant word here because immigrant parents just don’t understa…actually just watch the damn episode.
Ali Wong’s “Baby Cobra” stand-up performance hits on everything a mid-30s Asian-American living in a major urban area is concerned with.
While I’m not South Asian, “Meet the Patels” illustrates the parental and familial pressure to keep up the cultural status quo and the yearning to live the normal American life of your peers. Arranged marriages don’t carry the same weight in Filipino families, but your parents’ expectations of you press upon first-gens an obligation that hurts your heart to outright reject.
This is a topic I wrote about many years ago in the Philippines issue of Frank 151. My dad raises chickens for cockfighting, which is a peculiar aspect of my family and heritage that’s difficult to reconcile with my American upbringing. Feel free to read about it below: