ABC cancels 'Dr. Ken'

The Friday night sitcom, starring and executive produced by Ken Jeong, was not renewed for a third season.

Aw, dammit. It was fun while it lasted. One of television's few Asian American families will not be returning in the fall. After two seasons, ABC has canceled Dr. Ken, starring and executive produced by Ken Jeong.

Inspired by Jeong's real life and career as a medical doctor, the multi-camera Friday night comedy followed Dr. Ken Park, a physician with a bad beside manner trying to juggle practicing medicine at his HMO and being a family man to his wife and kids -- and not quite succeeding on either front.

Dr. Ken also starred the awesome Suzy Nakamura as Ken's wife Allison, Krista Marie Yu as daughter Molly, Albert Tsai as his son Dave, and Dana Lee as Ken's dad D.K. The cast was rounded out by Tisha Campbell-Martin as Damona, Jonathan Slavin as Clark and Dave Foley as Pat.

Less than a year after the much-hyped premiere of Fresh Off The Boat, which was widely celebrated as the first series to feature an Asian American family in two decades, Dr. Ken leapt on to ABC's schedule. Two Asian American families on TV? On the same friggin' network? Whaaaaaaat. And Dr. Ken offered a decidedly different inter-Asian, multi-generational take on the Asian American family comedy.

The first season of Dr. Ken garnered respectable ratings, earning itself a second season. But ratings fell in season two, averaging 5.1 million viewers per episode with a 1.1 in the 18-to-49 demo. That's all just TV-speak to say not enough people tuned in on Friday nights to watch it.

So the network gave it the axe, and that's a bummer. While the show's traditional sitcom format wasn't everybody's cup of tea, I really appreciated Dr. Ken's surprising heart and soul in between the jokes, particularly when the show's themes circled around Asian American identity and community. The episode where Ken deals with his insecurities about not knowing how to speak Korean was particularly personally resonant.

And did I mention it was just great to see another Asian American family at the center of another show? Of course, Dr. Ken was a showcase for Ken Jeong's unique trademark comic energy, but man, how great were Suzy Nakamura, Krista Marie Yu and Albert Tsai (that kid!), who could handily go toe-to-toe with Jeong's antics. I'll also maintain that adding Dana Lee as series regular was one of the show's smartest moves in season two.

In addition, Dr. Ken opened its doors to a parade of Asian American actors as guest stars over the course two seasons, featuring the likes of Randall Park, Margaret Cho, Danny Pudi, Will Yun Lee, Ian Chen, Justin Chon, Clyde Kusatsu and more. How many shows can boast that kind of love for Asian American performers?

In the end, I'll miss Dr. Ken and I'll miss what it brought to television.

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