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What other TV shows can learn from the creators of 'This Is Us' and 'The Good Place.'

On the NBC hit comedy, "The Good Place," Manny Jacinto plays, well, a lovable idiot.

The show follows a group of strangers brought together in the afterlife. Jacinto's character, Jason Mendoza, is always a little behind on the group's quickly shifting plans. But the aspiring DJ and Jacksonville Jaguars fan with a gentle spirit is often the heart of this charming comedy.

But while the hapless goof is a pretty common television trope, there's one thing that sets Jason Mendoza apart from the rest — he's Filipino-American.


[rebelmouse-image 19533058 dam="1" original_size="400x225" caption="GIF via "The Good Place."" expand=1]GIF via "The Good Place."

It is truly rare to see Asian-American characters on television, let alone one who isn't high-achieving, bookish, or an otherwise model minority.

Mike Schur, the creator of "The Good Place," took this into account when developing the show's cast of characters.

"They were trying to figure out something different and one of the things that popped up was that you don’t really see a lot of dumb Asian guys on mainstream television," Jacinto said in a recent interview with Vulture. "He’s usually intelligent or the model minority. I’m not saying playing Jason is pioneering, but it’s so great for me to do because it’s not a stereotype."

Manny Jacinto after the Golden Globes. Photo by Loreen Sarkis/Getty Images.

Now, full disclosure, Jason was confused for a silent Buddhist monk from Taiwan named Jianyu for the first few episodes of the show, and it looked like we'd be right back into Asian stereotype territory. (It's a delightful reveal, and though I just revealed it, there are plenty more where that came from.)

But on the whole, "The Good Place" works hard to subvert and call out cultural stereotypes through character development and sharp writing. Even in a place as perfect as heaven, Mendoza is offered tofu instead of his favorite meal, buffalo wings.  And he commiserates to main character Eleanor, played by Kristen Bell, “Everyone here thinks I’m Taiwanese. I’m Filipino. That’s racist. Heaven is so racist.”

[rebelmouse-image 19533060 dam="1" original_size="400x225" caption="GIF via "The Good Place."" expand=1]GIF via "The Good Place."

But even while calling out stereotypes and rethinking representation, Jason Mendoza's ethnicity isn't the crux of his character. And that's kind of awesome.

“His culture doesn’t make up his character,” Jacinto said in an interview with Mochi magazine. When Jason connects with other characters of color, there's no pressure to push on his background. "They’re having a normal conversation as people. It’s not something you see in mainstream media at all — usually, there’s some sort of cultural joke.”

This doesn't mean his background gets erased or ignored — just the opposite. Jason Mendoza gets to be Filipino-American, and a huge Blake Bortles stan who has a fondness for EDM. Like all of us, he's the intersection of a lot of weird and wonderful things. Why shouldn't TV show all of that?

[rebelmouse-image 19533061 dam="1" original_size="400x225" caption="GIF via "The Good Place."" expand=1]GIF via "The Good Place."

Roles like this remind us that while colorblind casting affords great opportunities to actors of color, sometimes there's beauty in specificity.

Sterling K. Brown, who won a Golden Globe for his role as Randall Pearson in the NBC drama, "This Is Us," made a point to mention this in his acceptance speech, emphasis added.

"Dan Fogelman, you wrote a role for a black man that could only be played by a black man. What I appreciate so much about this is that I’m being seen for who I am and being appreciated for who I am. And it makes it that much more difficult to dismiss me, or dismiss anybody who looks like me.”

Sterling K. Brown poses with the trophy for Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series — Drama. Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

What it comes down to is this: representation matters.

Seeing someone like you, with your skin color, spiritual background, age, sexual orientation, or disability is no small thing. It can inspire, change minds, and move people to act. Every role on every show gives Hollywood another chance to get it right. Not just for top talent, but for the children (and Jacksonville Jaguar-loving adults) watching and wondering if anyone sees them too.

The Prince Charles Cinema/Youtube

Brendan Fraser dressed as Rick O'Connell.

Brendan Fraser might be making the greatest career comeback ever, racking up accolades and award nominations for his dramatic, transformative role in “The Whale." But the OG Fraser fans (the ones who watch “Doom Patrol” solely to hear his voice and proudly pronounce his last name as Fray-zure, for this is the proper pronunciation) have known of his remarkable talent since the 90s, when he embodied the ultimate charming, dashing—and slightly goofball—Hollywood action lead.

Let us not forget his arguably most well known and beloved 90s character—Rick O’Connell from the “Mummy” franchise. Between his quippy one-liners, Indiana Jones-like adventuring skills and fabulous hair, what’s not to like?

During a double feature of “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns” in London, moviegoers got the ultimate surprise when who should walk in but Brendan Fraser himself, completely decked out in Rick O’Connell attire. The brown leather jacket. The scarf. Everything.

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This article originally appeared on 01.27.20


From 1940 to 1945, an estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, the largest complex of Nazi concentration camps. More than four out of five of those people—at least 1.1 million people—were murdered there.

On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the final prisoners from these camps—7,000 people, most of whom were sick or dying. Those of us with a decent public education are familiar with at least a few names of Nazi extermination facilities—Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen—but these are merely a few of the thousands (yes, thousands) of concentration camps, sub camps, and ghettos spread across Europe where Jews and other targets of Hitler's regime were persecuted, tortured, and killed by the millions.

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"You can’t just say, 'I want to be a dentist,'” judge Simon Cowell told the duo.

Back in 2014, cello-playing brothers Emil and Dariel wowed "America’s Got Talent" audiences with their cello rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s "Purple Haze," even becoming finalists for the season.

After getting invited back to participate in "America’s Got Talent: All Stars," the duo once again rocked the house with an epic cover of "Take On Me." This classic A-ha tune has been covered a lot, so the fact that these two gave it fresh new life is no easy feat.

However, judge Simon Cowell remained unimpressed.

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Joy

A woman treats her miniature pig like a toddler and it even 'talks' with electronic buttons

Merlin will tap buttons that say “eat,” “outside” and “ice cream.”

Photo by Ben Mater on Unsplash

A woman treats her pig like a toddler and the internet can't get enough.

Pigs are cute. Well, piglets are cute, but they usually don't stay those tiny little snorting things very long. That is unless you get a mini pig and name it something majestic like Merlin. (I would've gone with Hamlet McBacon, but no one asked me.)

Mina Alali, a TikTok user from California, has been going viral on the internet for her relationship with Merlin, her miniature pig. Of course, there are plenty of folks out there with pigs—mini pigs, medium pigs, pigs that weigh hundreds of pounds and live in a barn with a spider named Charlotte. But not everyone carries their pig around on adventures like it's their child.

Alali's videos of her sweet interactions with her little pig have gotten a lot of people wanting their own piggy, but training Merlin wasn't always easy. According to Yahoo Finance, the 25-year-old told SWNS that she has wanted a pig her whole life and finding Merlin was a "dream come true," but she wasn't expecting how challenging it would be to train him. If you've never been around pigs, then you may not know that they squeal—a lot—and unless you're living on an actual farm, that could be a problem.

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Democracy

More than seven thousand people shared their best ideas to stop mass shootings. Here are the best.

Everyone agrees mass shootings need to end. But what can really be done?

A makeshift memorial after the 2019 El Paso mass shooting.

As of January 24, 2023, at least 69 people have been killed in 39 mass shootings across the United States . The deadliest shooting happened on January 21 in Monterey Park, California, when a 72-year-old man shot 20 people, killing 11. On January 23, a 66-year-old man killed 7 people and injured another in a shooting in Half Moon Bay, California.

It’s hard to see these stories in the news every few weeks—or days—and not get desensitized, especially when lawmakers have made it clear that they will not do anything substantive to curb the availability of assault weapons in the U.S.

After the assault weapons ban, which had been in effect for 10 years, lapsed in 2004, the number of mass shootings tripled.

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Pop Culture

People rally behind a 12-year-old actress who was 'humiliated' with a 'Razzie' nomination

The parody awards show has now enforced an age limit rule to its nominations.

Ryan Kiera Armstrong in the 2022 film 'Firestarter'

Since the early 80s, the Golden Raspberry Awards, aka the "Razzies," has offered a lighthearted alternative to the Oscars, which, though prestigious, can sometimes dip into the pretentious. During the parody ceremony, trophies are awarded to the year’s worst films and performances as a way to "own your bad," so the motto goes.

However, this year people found the Razzies a little more than harmless fun when 12-year-old actress Ryan Kiera Armstrong was nominated for "Worst Actress" for her performance in the 2022 film "Firestarter." She was 11 when the movie was filmed.

Sadly, this is not the first time a child has received a Razzie nom. Armstrong joins the ranks of Jake Lloyd, who played young Anakin Skywalker in "Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace," as well as Macaulay Culkin, who was nominated three times.

Armstrong's nomination resulted in a flood of comments from both industry professionals and fans who felt the action was cruel and wanted to show their support for the young actress.

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