"Blowing up is a luxury": Korean American audience reception to Beef (2023)

Park, Jiwon, Media, Culture, and Technology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Press, Andrea, AS-Media Studies (MDST), University of Virginia
Dave, Shilpa, University of Virginia

Since the late 2010s, there has been a boom of Asian American characters in Hollywood. Beef (2023) is a key example—a television series that features a predominantly Asian American cast. Using Stuart Hall (1988)’s framework of “new ethnicities,” this thesis presents the audience reception to Beef and its depiction of the Korean American diaspora through the findings from eight in-depth interviews conducted with Korean Americans between the ages of 18-25. I argue that specific cultural references in Beef contrast previous stereotypical representations of the diaspora and enable audiences to create a sense of community and belonging. Furthermore, I argue that Beef presents a vision of Korean American masculinity. Acknowledging that Asian Americans were historically portrayed as being emasculated and lacking anger, Beef allowed audiences to negotiate the meaning of masculinity in the context of the diaspora. Finally, I raise concerns about the insular and narrow scope of the community that reception to Beef suggests, which can have damaging ramifications for pan-ethnic solidarity.

MA (Master of Arts)
Asian American Representation, Korean American Representation, Asian American Masculinity, Audience Reception
Issued Date: