June 27, 2008

#12 American TV Shows

While Malaysians have an ongoing love affair with most things foreign, they reserve a special place in their hearts and minds for mainstream American TV programmes ("Get Lost, cos I'm busy watching it."). The U.S. TV show is often the Malaysian's first encounter with American culture and is religiously followed by viewers of any demographic.

Despite the fact that these TV shows showcase unlikely characters and excessive melodrama, the Malaysian accepts the TV show as unquestionable gospel and it shapes his/her perception of America while fueling criticism of the Malaysian equivalent. "Sigh...my doctor looks more McSleazy than McSteamy" can often be overheard at hospital waiting areas.

The U.S. TV programme is integral to a generation of Malaysians seeking to adopt an identity more desirable and exciting than their own. In attempts to incorporate elements of popular TV shows into their lives, each group of friends will have the following designated stereotypes: "the fashionable cosmogirl", "the smart and sensitive one", "the charming ladies man", "the ditzy girl with the big heart" or "the control freak with an embarrassing past". If anyone should stray from the predetermined labels they will be asked to leave the group. This is why you have the "Which Friends character are you?" application on Facebook to check yourself.

The influence of American TV on Malaysians cannot be disregarded especially when you hear schoolgirls sounding like they're from the Upper East Side or when your office secretary tells you ugly is the new pretty. American TV also sets the benchmark for most people's expectations ("My boyfriend must have all the qualities of Seth Cohen", "Hey, how come my GP doesn't walk with a cane or make snide comments?" ). If you are still skeptical of American TV's influence on Malaysian culture, just keep your ears peeled for the next time you hear "How you doin'?", "XOXO" and the most annoyingly overused term of all: "Seriously."


-Princess Shin- said...

I love Grey's! Ahh.... Lost is really lost though..

I do admit that Malaysians love their American shows. When I went to US, I know their shows even more than the American themselves!

B.H. said...

Hi Shin,

Welcome (I'm making an assumption that it's your first time here) and thanks very much for leaving your comment.

It isn't surprising that many Americans don't watch TV, they prefer acting out their own dramas. But I'm far more appreciative of their comedic efforts, namely the one the White House has aired for the past seven years.

Come back soon!


s kim said...


B.H. said...

It's a serious matter, Kim.

Myza said...

owh my, im such a victim of this phenomenon!

what can i say, i love nate archibald, and dan humphrey, and nathan scottt...

and i love the movies...

well u said, they dont watch tv? hurm.. they have 60 channels on basic cable!

their comedic efforts, well, i dont really understand some of em..

and how u doin? thats a typical "hello", more commercialized by Joey of Friends, nonetheless.. but u hear it a lot in the streets..

ah~ im thinking of doin this is as a topic for an essay? sounds interestin...