Rediscovering "Dr. Ken": Funnier Than You Think

A Closer Look at the Accurate Representation, Strong Leading Characters and Serious Themes in the Overlooked Sitcom

By Mas Moriya

Warning: Some Spoilers Ahead

Are you tired of the same old sitcoms that seem to be all over television? Are you looking for something new, fresh and different? Look no further than “Dr. Ken,” a hidden gem of a show that deserves much more recognition than it received during its time on air. The show, which originally aired on ABC from October 2, 2015 to March 31, 2017, was created by Ken Jeong, who also starred as the lead character, Dr. Ken Park. Despite being led by Jeong, who is known for his over-the-top comedic style, the show offers much more than just kooky comedy. “Dr. Ken” is a relatable, heartfelt and hilarious show that perfectly balances humor with serious themes, accurate representation of Asian-American families and strong leading characters. It is a show that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you feel.

Logline:
A frustrated doctor juggles his career, marriage, and family.

The show follows the life of Dr. Ken Park, a Korean-American physician who works at a HMO clinic. He is struggling to balance his career and family life, as he tries to be a good husband, father, and doctor. The show also focuses on the Park family, and their daily struggles and joys. The cast of the show includes Ken Jeong as Dr. Ken Park, Suzy Nakamura as his wife, Allison Park, and Tisha Custodio, Jonathan Slavin, Kate Simses, Albert Tsai and Krista Marie Yu as their children and coworkers.

Dr. Ken was praised for its representation of Asian-American families, and for its ability to tackle serious topics such as intergenerational trauma and cancer in a comedic way. Despite receiving positive reviews from critics and audiences, the show was not given the recognition it deserved and was cancelled after two seasons. Despite this, the show has developed a loyal fanbase and is still available to watch on streaming platforms such as Roku.

The show also focuses on the Park family, and their daily struggles and joys. Ken’s wife, Allison Park, played by Suzy Nakamura, is a strong, independent woman who is the voice of reason in the family. She is a stay-at-home mom and the glue that holds the family together. She is a loving wife, but also has a hard time dealing with Ken’s control issues. She is a great mother, but also has a hard time letting go of her children. Allison is a complex character, and Nakamura does a great job of bringing her to life.

The Park family also includes their children, Molly, played by Tisha Custodio, and Dave, played by Albert Tsai. Molly is the older sister, a high school student who is trying to find her place in the world. She is smart, ambitious, and has a great sense of humor. She is a good daughter, but also has a hard time dealing with her parents’ control issues. She is a good sister, but also has a hard time dealing with her brother’s antics. Molly is a complex character, and Custodio does a great job of bringing her to life.

Dave is the younger brother, a middle school student who is trying to find his place in the world. He is smart, ambitious, and has a great sense of humor. He is a good son, but also has a hard time dealing with his parents’ control issues. He is a good brother, but also has a hard time dealing with his sister’s antics. Dave is a complex character, and Tsai does a great job of bringing him to life.

 

One of the show’s standout episodes is about the children growing up in a mixed-race Japanese-Korean household. This episode delves deep into the topic of intergenerational trauma and how it affects families. The show also tackles serious issues such as cancer, but manages to do so in a relatable and fun way. The jokes on the show are clever and unique, making for an enjoyable viewing experience.

The show’s diverse cast, including the mother, children, and parents/grandparents, all of whom are Asian American, accurately reflects the Asian-American experience. This representation is vital, as it provides a window into the lives of a community that is often underrepresented in mainstream media. The show’s ability to tackle serious issues such as intergenerational trauma and cancer while still maintaining a comedic tone is commendable and it’s something that is not often seen in sitcoms.

The show is almost a meta-verse spin-off of Margret Cho‘s “All American Girl,” which aired in the 90s. The show follows the life of Dr. Ken Park, a Korean-American physician who works at a HMO clinic, and his family, as they navigate their daily struggles and joys. Both “All American Girl” and “Dr. Ken” share a lot of similarities, as they both focus on the life of a Korean-American family and the challenges they face.

One of the most notable similarities between the two shows is the presence of Ken Jeong, who plays the lead character in “Dr. Ken” and Margret Cho’s brother in “All American Girl.” The show also features an episode where Cho makes an appearance as Ken Jeong’s sister, who is in entertainment, further emphasizing the meta-verse aspect of the show. In addition, B.D. Wong also makes an appearance as Stewart in “All American Girl” and “Dr. Ken” as a father, which adds to the meta-verse feeling of the show.

Another notable similarity between the two shows is the presence of a grandparent living with the family. In “All American Girl,” the family’s grandmother lives with them and in “Dr. Ken” Ken’s father joins the family to live in their house. Both shows also tackle serious issues such as intergenerational trauma and cancer but in a comedic way, making it relatable to the audiences.

If you haven’t seen “All American Girl” or “Dr. Ken,” when you do watch both of them, you’ll start to see the similarities and how “Dr. Ken” is almost a meta-verse spin-off of “All American Girl“. Both shows offer a unique perspective on the Asian-American experience and are worth watching for anyone who is interested in representation and diverse perspectives on television.

 

Despite only lasting for two seasons, Dr. Ken offers a solid 44 episodes of sitcom entertainment. The show is free to watch on Roku, making it easily accessible to viewers. Overall, Dr. Ken is a great show that deserves more recognition for its accurate portrayal of the Asian-American experience, its strong leading characters, and its ability to tackle serious issues in a comedic way. The show was a perfect blend of humor, heart, and representation that should be more widely recognized.

If you haven’t watched it yet, give a few of the episodes a watch and see if you can jive with it. You can watch it for free on Roku. Stream it directly on your computer or on most of your streaming devices.