When I saw the “Parents” episode of Master of None, I was floored. Did Aziz live with my family for the past 28 years?
Brian’s father’s hyper proper English texts are exactly like my dad’s. Brian’s dad wrote “This sounds fun. I would attend this event.” Just last month, when I invited my dad to dinner with my in-laws, he wrote “I am happy to join your party.” Like many other immigrant children watching the show, I felt like my life was unfolding on the big screen.
I cannot stress how important this was, especially because TV shows have impacted how I perceived my own family. One of the first TV shows I watched after I immigrated to Canada was Full House. I was eight years old, watching a “normal” white family giving hugs, talking about feelings, apologizing constantly for minor misunderstandings with heartwarming reconciliations. I felt like my Chinese family didn’t measure up in comparison. Our hugs weren’t daily occurrences, we hardly talk about feelings (though I was certainly constantly asked if I’ve eaten), and fights were often not resolved and reconciliations simply put off.
The feeling of inadequacy thankfully wore off as I grew up. In my early twenties, I began to appreciate just how much my parents sacrificed to ensure my sister and I could have a better education. By blessing us with Chinese language skills and a Western education, they gave us the power of choice—the ability to move beyond borders, to choose where we want to live and thrive. This choice was built on their tough decision of giving up their successful careers and upper-middle class life and heading into the fearful unknown.
As I watched Dev and Brian’s parents’ stories, I finally saw something on screen that depicted the immeasurable love that my parents have shown me. The episode showed me a love beyond affectionate words and constant hugging—a love that I have experienced all my life but have never seen in any movie or TV show. It provided an alternative narrative to what constitutes a “loving” family.
Recently, my mom texted me: “U really made me proud of u!” These were rare words in my family, and so I felt the full impact of her compliment. It made me feel silly I ever wanted Michelle Tanner’s picture perfect Full House family. I would take mine over hers any day.