“In the next few years, we’re going to see a lot more diversity in terms of what we mean by AAPI,” said Jeremiah Abraham, co-producer of “Yellow Rose,” who runs a marketing and communications agency specializing in Asian. American projects. “There’s more talent out there than we’re giving access and opportunities to.”
“Beef” chronicles a feud between Amy, a wealthy entrepreneur feeling pressure to sell her small business, and Danny, a struggling entrepreneur who can’t seem to catch a break. The series puts anger on full display, but it manifests differently for the two tormentors. Amy, who married into art world money, has to smile through various indignities. Danny, weighed down by the responsibility he feels for his younger brother, Paul (Young Mazino), and his ex-convict cousin, barges his way into Amy’s home and urinates across her bathroom.
As Amy and Danny’s quests for revenge involve loved ones, the series also gives viewers a close look at the church-going Korean community in Southern California and presents multiple versions of masculinity for its Asian American characters.
Joseph Lee, who plays Amy’s lonely and greedy husband George, said he saw “vulnerability and insecurity” in his character. Mazino said Paul looks at the toxic masculinity of his brother and cousin and tries to forge a different path. “There is no one example that represents all of this,” Lee said.
(“Beef” was itself the target of considerable ire this year when podcast episode from 2014 resurfaced in which David Choe, who plays the cousin, talked about forcing a masseuse to perform oral sex. He later said the story was made up. But amid the uproar over the revelations, some viewers, including many Asian Americans, struggled whether to support the show.)
Actors said that working on projects like “Beef,” which feature pan-Asian casts, allowed race to recede into the background, and for nuanced characters like George and Paul to take the spotlight.