Growing up as an Asian-American, I never understood why my parents barely gave me any positive reinforcement, but as I got older and learned more about my parents and my culture, I was able to slowly connect the dots. You see, Vietnamese parents don’t usually praise their children’s achievements because don’t want their kids to stop being humble and striving to do better. Instead, they show their support by providing shelter, food, clothes, college tuition, and everything else to ensure that I could keep achieving. This cultural “clash” with my “American” upbringing was the source of many a conflict with my parents, which is why I was glad to see that last Friday’s episode of Dr. Ken was all about perceptions and misunderstanding (that old sitcom standby), with a slight Asian twist.
Dr. Ken’s parents are in town, which is an event dreaded by the whole family, especially his wife Allison. Ken’s promise to be a buffer between her and his emotionless parents are dashed as his non-reaction to friend and co-worker Clark’s announcement of becoming a registered nurse led to a series of event that accidentally resulted in Ken being forced to attend “Physician Sensitivity Training,” (or “DMV for doctors”). Fortunately, Ken eventually realizes during the seminar how Clark must have felt when he didn’t receive any recognition for his achievement and immediately apologized to his “work husband.”
While everything was going down at the hospital, Allison was facing her own “Korean Mt. Rushmore.” Throughout her marriage with Ken, she always believed that his parents didn’t think she was good enough for their “golden boy, the successful doctor”. However, after she finally confronts them, she learns that they actually do like her and that although Ken might be a doctor, his humility needs some work. In fact, sometimes they actually think that Ken might not be good enough for her.
This episode’s plot had two parallel lines. With Ken and his parents on one side, withholding their emotions, and Clark and Allison on the other, not knowing how to process that. Like with my own experiences, Allison’s American upbringing clashed with Ken’s parent’s Asian point of view, and she was not able to understand her in-laws true feelings toward her. But when everything is put out into the open, Ken’s parents finally understood why their daughter in-law always acts awkward around them, and become more open with her. Ken, once again, showed us that he was capable of learning from his mistakes, and Clark learns that while Ken might not give praises freely, he does, in fact, respect him.
I think we can all agree that relationships are the most important things in life, regardless of our ethnicities. Without proper communication, misunderstandings are bound to rise. If each individual can yield a little to one another, be more patient, and be honest to one another when there is an issue, relationships don’t have to be so hard. “The Seminar” portrayed this perfectly.
Featured Photo: Nicole Wilder / ABC