Media Monday: Pair of What?

I am going to preface this with a disclosure. I like watching kids shows. I don't know why, but I do. I realize that I am too old to watch kids shows and too young (and kid-less) to have an excuse to be "forced" to watch them. I find them funny and amusing and a good time.

A few weeks ago a show called "Pair of Kings" showed up on Netflix and I decided to watch it. This is the main cast.

The premise of the show is that two teenage twins from Chicago are actually the Kings of a small Polynesian island. And when they turn 16 are brought to the island to become Kings where they previously did not know they were Kings. Hilarity insues. It's a kids show, stick with me. There should be an argument about nativism here. But I am not informed enough about the show or Polynesian cultures to make that argument. At times though this show does make me uncomfortable with their scary savages... I am saying I recognize it but I am here to make a different argument.

Now take a look at the Cast photo? Which two are the twins? They're played by Mitchel Musso and Doc Shaw.

There is a passing reference in the pilot episode of the series that basically goes, "You don't think we look like twins? No one else does either! Our dad was white our mom was Black. This is what happens!" And they make jokes about the fact that they look different, and frequently reference their parents.

I can't find a picture of their parents. But I will say that their dad Doesn't look very white to me. Or at least not as White as Mitchel Musso does. Furthermore, if there dad was the King of a Polynesian Island. Shouldn't he be I don't know, Polynesian? In the brief shots the show of him, he does look indeed Polynesian to me.

The other teenage boy in the main cast is Ryan Ochoa (he plays the cousin of the twins. According to IMDB, he is white. According to his little brother's IMDB page he is part Latino. They don't say what side of the family he is related to the Kings on, but since he is on the Island so we can assume the Fathers.

To recap we have a family two brothers and a cousin who are black, white and Latino.

The other two in the main Cast are Geno Segers, and Kelsey Chow. In the show they are father and daughter. Geno identifies as Black. Kelsey is Half Chinese. I think they do look Black and half Chinese. Or at least Black and half Asian. Kelsey's "mother" has yet to be shown.

I read a study once that said that Kids programming has the greatest diversity amongst TV shows. In the show there will be a wider variety of skin colors, body types, etc. Of all the different types of programming Childrens TV is the most inclusive. And with good reason, kids want to watch characters that they identify with, that look like them. But live wild lives. It is essentially the formula to make a kids show work (or at least Disney thinks it is).

There are two ways to look at this. One is sort of positive. One is very negative.

Either Disney is trying to be color-blind in it's casting. After all Doc Shaw and Mitchel Musso were already established Disney actors transplanted from other shows. And casting agents legally aren't allowed to ask about an actor's racial background. But the thing is. Color-Blind casting doesn't work. Instead of creating a complex identity they have essentially made one twin Black and one twin White.

They supposedly grew up with their Black aunt in a big city. It is an interesting idea that he is "white" he looks white for sure, but probably grew up in a community that was black. This is never mentioned. I know as a child of an immigrant I question my self identity daily I still don't know how to answer that question. And try to balance my internal culture clash.

There is also the fact that I believe the Twins would be judged differently in the real world. And not in inclusive-Disney-topia. Color-Blind casting in theory is a great idea. But people already see races. It is too late to live in a color-blind world. There is too much race history now the best we can do is utilize it as a tool. And maybe that is what they're trying to do.

The other argument of what Disney is trying to do. Is that they are taking just a bunch of people that look vaguely "ethnic". They picked two actors they liked and have worked with before, and then created a story and built a cast around them. And since it is an island they wanted them to look "exotic" But not too exotic now. We still want kids to watch our show.

I'm giving the show a pass (except on the natavism stuff) and going to say that it is an interesting experiment in color-blind casting. Probably one of the only instances of it I can think of that this has occured on a TV show. The only thing this experiment has proved to me though, is that color-blind casting doesn't work. And furthermore, really makes me cock my head and go "WHAT?"

My big question now is, if it is a Polynesian Island... Where are the Asian actors? Couldn't find any? Like V magazine couldn't find any Asian models for the cover of their "Asian Issue"?

Sorry if this is rambles, I haven't fully formed my thoughts. I don't just knit all the time you know XD

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