66 episodes

Wake up! Saturday School is a podcast where Brian Hu (@husbrian) and Ada Tseng (@adatseng) teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. New episodes released Saturdays at 8am, when all your friends are still in bed watching cartoons. It'll be a blast from the past, as they dig up some of their favorite works they've come across covering Asian American arts & entertainment over the years -- and discover other gems for the first time. Saturday School is a proud founding member of Potluck, a collective of podcasts featuring unique stories and voices from the Asian American community. Sign up for our newsletter below for lecture notes!

Saturday School Podcast Saturday School from the Potluck Podcast Collective

    • TV & Film
    • 4.7, 19 Ratings

Wake up! Saturday School is a podcast where Brian Hu (@husbrian) and Ada Tseng (@adatseng) teach your unwilling children about Asian American pop culture history. New episodes released Saturdays at 8am, when all your friends are still in bed watching cartoons. It'll be a blast from the past, as they dig up some of their favorite works they've come across covering Asian American arts & entertainment over the years -- and discover other gems for the first time. Saturday School is a proud founding member of Potluck, a collective of podcasts featuring unique stories and voices from the Asian American community. Sign up for our newsletter below for lecture notes!

    Season 6, Ep. 10: My Name Is Khan

    Season 6, Ep. 10: My Name Is Khan

    Our final episode of Saturday School's sixth semester, where we explore Asian films about Asian America, is about the 2010 Karan Johar film "My Name Is Khan," which brings us full circle to the first episode of the season, where we explored Bollywood's earlier portrayal of Indian America in "Kal Ho Naa Ho."

    Over the last decade, no one ever thinks to ask Brian and I, or our special guests Rowena Aquino and Winghei Kwok (who we worked with at Asia Pacific Arts), if we have touched Shah Rukh Khan. Which is probably a good thing cause turns out if we were asked, the story of how we touched his jacket, his backpack, over and over again when he was going through a crowd, in character, trying to tell the president of the United States impersonator "My name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist" would take a very long time - and we would sound a little bit like crazy people.

    But here, we tell you our story about getting racially profiled and then escorted onto a Bollywood set at UCLA, because they needed the crowd at the rally to look like America. In Bollywood's America circa 2009, they had a need for East and Southeast Asian extras, and they found a few snooping around campus early one morning after hearing that SRK would be there.

    This is kind of our love letter to Asian American entertainment journalism and fandom. But after freaking out and giggling through half the episode, we also think about "My Name Is Khan" and how it intersected with Asian American film history.

    This film, that tackles Islamophobia in America head-on, could never have been made in the U.S. Definitely not by a Hollywood studio, and independent Asian America, especially at the time, didn't have the resources or SRK-Kajol-level star power to dream about attempting something of this scope.

    But at the same time, Asian Americans would probably be more likely to cringe at the idea of taking topic like post-9/11 Islamophobia, combining it with a story with a man with Asperger's, putting him on a search to find President George W. Bush after a 9/11 hate crime creates a chasm between lovers, dropping him midst of Hurricane Katrina (of course), and having it all end with the unwavering belief that love conquers all.

    It's been a blast covering Asian films about Asian America this season. It's a reminder that it's not just Asian Americans or even Americans that tell stories about us. The motherland still thinks of us, and while their filmmakers might sometimes make distorted versions of our realities, setting their stories abroad also sometimes allows them to tackle local issues in a way that might be hard for them to address in a film set at home.

    • 53 min
    Season 6, Ep. 9: Love Is A Broadway Hit

    Season 6, Ep. 9: Love Is A Broadway Hit

    For the second week in a row, Brian and I take you back to Dec 2019, when we recorded this and then didn't edit it for months cause that's the kind of responsible Saturday School hosts we are. It's a bittersweet episode and last minute addition to our syllabus after Godfrey Gao passed away last November, and we try to honor him through revisiting the 2017 Chinese romcom, "Love is a Broadway Hit."

    This season, we're exploring Asian films about Asian America, and this is a film produced in China but set in New York, where two Chinese American aspiring actors are trying to make it on Broadway. In this warped-mirror version of China's imagined New York, race (and lack of English-language skills, in the cast of leading lady Claudia Wang) is 100% not an issue when it comes to Hollywood and theater casting. This America is colorblind, gender-blind and super into Chinese culture, whether it be its food, opera or melodramas.

    It's not the best movie, but it's worth watching to understand the appeal of Godfrey Gao, who became a global icon when he was dubbed the first Asian male supermodel after signing with Louis Vuitton in 2011. Others knew him from Taiwanese dramas and briefly Hollywood (Magnus Bane in "Mortal Instruments: City of Bones"), and he eventually ended up working in China, which is where his heart suddenly stopped while participating in a physically strenuous challenge for a reality show. He was only 35.

    It's impossible to talk about his appeal without (unabashedly, repeatedly) fawning over his looks, but it's also hard not to see him as an underdog, as a Taiwanese-Malaysian Canadian trying to carve out a career in both Asia and America. Onscreen, he also had a genuine sweetness and innocent goofiness that made it easy to root for him.

    For us watchers of Asian American entertainment, which is often about how we don't fit in anywhere, he represented a fantasy of an Asian American man who could fit in anywhere, his hotness blinding and undercutting any potential prejudices. We knew that wasn't how things worked in real life, but sometimes that's how it worked in film, and it made us hopeful and happy. RIP Godfrey Gao.

    • 31 min
    Season 6, Ep. 8: My Father

    Season 6, Ep. 8: My Father

    We accidentally took a months-long break, recorded our last few episodes of our season in Dec 2019, then accidentally took another break, and then coronavirus happened. But last week, Ada's daughter was back to Chinese school on Zoom, so we're back too. 

    In this week's episode, we continue our exploration of Asian films about Asian America through the 2007 Hwang Dong-hyuk film "Our Father," starring Daniel Henney and Kim Yeong-cheol. It's inspired by the true story of Aaron Bates, a Korean American adoptee who, with the help of the Korean media, finds his birth father when he's in the army there, only to realize his father is on death row.

    This is one of those episodes that rewards our regular listeners, as we compare Henney's gracious assimilation into the Korean melodrama style of acting, compared to his Chinese American/Canadian contemporaries who were too cool for school and blew up the Hong Kong film industry with "Gen X Cops" and "Gen Y Cops." We compare Henney's performance in this film to "Shanghai Calling," where he was able to act in the style of a Hollywood rom-com. And we compare "My Father's" uplifting, cutesy, very good-looking depiction of the Korean American adoptee story (where a guilt-ridden father can be forgiven and Korean America is open-heartedly embraced by Korea) to Deanne Borshay's autobiographical "First Person Plural," and her most recent "Geographies of Kinship," which shows that sometimes the adoptee experience is not that simple and questions who stood to profit off of the 200,000 babies Korea that have been sent to foreign countries.

    • 20 min
    Season 6, Ep. 7: Batang West Side

    Season 6, Ep. 7: Batang West Side

    On this week's Saturday School, we continue to explore Asian films about Asian America, diving head first into the international film festival/art film world with the 5 hour 15 minute Lav Diaz film "Batang West Side" from 2001.

    It's a film that takes place in the snowy New Jersey winter. A Filipino American cop Juan (Jose Torre) is investigating the murder of a Filipino American teenager Hanzel, and through the course of the 5 hours, we get to know Hanzel's family members, friends, and girlfriend. We also get flashbacks of Hanzel, as well as glimpses of Juan's life in the U.S., isolated from his family back in the Philippines.

    Lav Diaz has become revered, especially in the last several years, for his marathon-length, deliberately paced art films that have gone up to 11 hours. Batang West Side, while not one of his more accessible films, is interesting because it marked a turning point for Diaz's filmmaking. It's almost like his time living in the States that inspired Batang West Side gave him the artistic freedom to forgo the commercial Filipino film market and really create his own unique style that he'd still be known for decades later.

    • 19 min
    Season 6, Ep. 6: Gen X Cops and Gen Y Cops

    Season 6, Ep. 6: Gen X Cops and Gen Y Cops

    In this week’s Saturday School, we break our sixth season streak of epic, emotional and honorable love stories, and as we hit the turn of the century, we look at “Asian films about Asian Americans” from an entirely different, warped mirror. We’re talking about 1999’s “Gen X Cops” and 2000’s “Gen Y Cops,” which is like a who’s who of Asian American/Canadian/Australian actors who briefly ruled the Hong Kong film industry, when the powers-that-be there were thirsting for new talent and caught some ABC fever.

    You got Daniel Wu, Maggie Q, Nicholas Tse, Stephen Fung, Edison Chen, Jaymee Ong, Terrence Yin -- and post-“Clueless,” pre-“Anchorman” Paul Rudd (“the dark days of Paul Rudd”) with bleached blond hair playing an FBI agent that says things like “You're the one going to the bamboo Alcatraz!”

    But back to the ABCs: Their Cantonese isn’t great. Their English-language acting is only debatably better. But they’re hot, they don’t give a f**k, and that’s kind of exactly what Hong Kong needed for this new type of hero leading high-octane action flicks with explosions, evil foreign adversaries (like Paul Rudd), nonsensical plot twists AND ROBOTS.

    History showed that this archetype of an Asian American too-cool-for-school sexually-liberated renegade, a la Edison Chen, wasn’t going to represent the future of the Hong Kong film industry. And probably for good reason, because Asian Americans from the other side of the ocean might have found it all a little bit embarrassing. But looking back, for a brief moment, Asian Americans were ruling the box office in Hong Kong. How did they pull it off? Did they totally improvise their own English lines because nobody behind the camera could tell them otherwise? Probably. And it was kind of glorious.

    • 26 min
    Season 6, Ep. 5: Sana Maulit Muli

    Season 6, Ep. 5: Sana Maulit Muli

    This week's episode of Saturday School continues our semester of tear-jerking romances... just kidding, our semester on Asian films about Asian Americans, and we've progressed semi-chronologically to the 1990s in the Philippines with Lea Salonga.

    1995's "Sana Maulit Muli" stars Lea Salonga and Aga Muhlach as a young couple who hope to start the next stage of their lives in America in pursuit of a better economic future. But she gets a visa first and is tearfully convinced by her boyfriend to go without him. He'll join her soon, he promises. And never forget how much he loves her, he says.

    Does she forget? Or is it that even if she's certain of his love, love is not enough if they're stuck on separate continents, pre-Skype? And when the complications of immigration causes a relationship to reach its breaking point, can they ever go back to the way it used to be?

    In some ways, it's a universal tale about a long distance relationship and what happens when power dynamics in a relationship shift. But this is also a very specific story about Overseas Filipino Workers, the pressures to succeed in America to provide for your family, the struggles to get and retain a visa, and what happens when sacrifices you make for your partner become too soul-crushing, but "yesterday, tomorrow and today, you'll be the only one I love." This 90s classic was digitally restored and re-mastered in 2015 for its 20th anniversary, so it looks beautiful and, unlike some of the more obscure films we talk about, this one is easily accessible on iTunes or Amazon Prime. So take advantage!

    • 19 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
19 Ratings

19 Ratings

Bobagirl ,

Bitesize guide to Asian American pop-culture

A fun, educational podcast for those interested in learning about Asian & Asian American cinema and pop-culture. Both hosts are knowledgable in the subject and have great banter. Most of the episodes are short (about 15-20 minutes), which makes listening very easy and quick.

Andgelaaa ,

Insightful and informative

I wish there was more coverage on South East and South Asian American media, as the East Asian American narrative is very prevalent and comes off as monolithic.

lol Cocoa101 >^< ,

Great for everyone, especially Asian-Americans

Great for everyone, especially Asian-Americans. Interesting topics focused on Asian-American pop culture that's really hard to find on other platforms.

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