Source: Tiger Startups, May 31, 2012
"Asian Jersey Shore" Reality Series K-Town Premieres Only On Youtube
In 2010, MTV reality series Jersey Shore was riding upon a wave of popularity. Viewers turned in weekly to see the misadventures of the show’s self-proclaimed “guidos” and “guidettes,” and like a trainwreck that can’t be looked away from, the show continued to rise in popularity until inevitable talk of imitations began to emerge. Chief among these was the self-proclaimed “Asian Jersey Shore,” also known as K-Town. The show, oddly promoted and produced by actor and model Tyrese Gibson, promised to document the fast lives of a bunch of 20-something Korean Americans in Los Angelas K-Town, offering viewers a substantial amount of booze, drama, and requisite sexual tension. After gaining a large amount of buzz on the internet, particularly from Asian Americans, a pilot episode of the show was filmed. And then, strangely enough, all news of the series vanished off of the face of the Earth for about two years.
K-Town, however, has now risen up from the depths of development hell, with a recent press release stating that the first episode of the show will premiere this July 2nd. There is, however, one big difference in this recent resurrection of the series--instead of premiering on primetime television, it will instead be broadcast strictly on Youtube, through the LOUD pop culture channel owned by media company Electus. According to the press release, the LOUD channel “will be the newest home for fresh, edgy, entertaining series featuring celebrities as well as popular Youtube talent,” and Tyrese Gibson, still promoting the show after two years, promises that aside from the show being exciting, “LOUD is the perfect platform for chronicling the social rituals of this unique Asian American subculture.”
While K-Town has now fully embraced its online-only status with a raunchy new trailer that takes pride in advertising “the reality show that no TV network could show you,” one has to wonder why no primetime companies ended up purchasing the show. While the show’s promotional material promises a questionable portrayal of Asian Americans, similar to the party-all-day stereotype of Italian Americans that Jersey Shore successfully pushed into the mainstream, the intentions of the show’s creators seem to be in the right place, at least. The show’s executive producer, Mike Le, states that K-Town is meant to shatter preconceived notions of Asian Americans, showing the world that “it's not just about playing the piano and being great at math. [Asian Americans] are also sexy, stylish, have swagger, and can party with the best of them." So why, then, did no TV network choose to pick this up, especially after the success of Jersey Shore? Is the world not yet ready for this new portrayal of Asian Americans, or is it better that this show remain Youtube-only, instead of promoting new ethnic stereotypes?
In the end, however, one thing is for sure: With Asian Americans currentlydominating the Youtube scene, K-Town will surely find the audience it craves online. But with other Asian American reality shows also popping up in internet-only form, one just has to wonder what it would take for these shows, however borderline insulting they might be, to break free of their niche online constraints and actually make it onto American television. Apparently, the time just isn’t right yet.