Marco Polo and Asian representation

Are you watching Netflix’s Marco Polo? If not, do yourself a HUGE favor and watch it.The show follows Marco Polo and his time spent with the Mongolian Empire and it’s leader, Kublai Khan.  Honestly, Marco Polo is one of the best shows I’ve seen. Yes, there’s a lot of great Television/Netflix/Hulu/Amazon shows out there, don’t get me wrong. However, Marco Polo is to me on a whole other caliber.

From the amazing cinematography,  to the beautiful costumes, and to the rich in detail sets of the show: it is so easy to be transported to  and mesmerized by  the world of the show.  The writing, directing, and of course acting of the show is just phenomenal.Also, this show has some of the best well written female characters ever.  I am in awe of this show

The thing I love most about this is that the Asian representation is stellar. I know not every Asian culture is highlighted on the show, but however, seeing many  Asian actors and actresses on the show is refreshing. It is a start.

If you haven’t noticed, Asians have the lowest representation in Hollywood, which I hope is something that will change.  So to have a show that is predominately Asian and to be so well received is rare in Hollywood. Off of the top of my head, I can only think of three shows that has a predominately Asian cast: Fresh Off The Boat, Dramaworld, and  Marco Polo. The talent on Marco Polo and FOTB is really great. And I hope that I’ll get to see actors and actresses of those shows cast in more film and TV in the future. Remy Hii needs to be cast as superhero honestly.

And that’s why the hashtag #AAIF was very important and discussed a serious problem that Hollywood and even literature seems to have with Asian stories and casting Asian people as leading characters. If you don’t know what #AAIF is, it is in short about reimagining the Marvel Comics’ character, Iron Fist as Asian American, for the upcoming Netflix show Iron Fist. This didn’t happen, but it sparked an important in conversation, and this hashtag is actually what ultimately led me to watch the show Marco Polo.

One of the points that #AAIF discussion brought up is that many non-Asian people are obsessed with Asian culture, yet don’t seem as invested in actual Asian people. I definitely think that its true, and it needs to change. We have seen many movies or read many comics or books that revolve around Asian culture, yet the main character of that story is white.  As if to say, the only way for people to understand Asian culture is have a white person show us.

And that brings me to my only problem with the show Marco Polo. I do not care about Marco. He’s the least interesting character in the entire show, and it’s not that Lorenzo isn’t talented, it’s just Marco fades into the background when I compare him to the other characters of the show.

I love Mei Lin, Jingim, Ahmad, Hundred Eyes, Kublai, Byamba, Kokachin, Chabi,  Kaidu and Khutulun. All of those characters are so complex and compelling, and I’m emotionally invested in all of them as well.  However, I’m not emotionally invested in Marco, which I don’t know if that’s what the writers were trying to go for, but again that’s the same problem I have with OITNB. I don’t care for Piper who is the main/central character of the show, yet everyone else, especially POC characters are much more interesting.

I believe we can have stories about Asian culture and Asian people without having to have a white person be our connecting character to that world. However, Marco Polo still is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. And the Asian representation is amazing.





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