Bojack Horseman creator acknowledges 'racist error' in Asian character portrayal

Clémence Michallon
YouTube / Netflix

The creator of Bojack Horseman has reflected on the show’s portrayal of a Vietnamese-American character, saying a “racist error” was made in her depiction.

Raphael Bob-Waksberg addressed the topic on Twitter, after someone asked why Diane Nguyen, the character in question, was voiced by Alison Brie, a white actor, on the Netflix show.

“This is something I am happy to talk about! I can tense up when asked about my mistakes (because I’m worried I’ll say the wrong thing) but it’s good for me to reflect on them and I hope others seeing me do so will help them not make the same mistakes!” Bob-Waksberg wrote.

Bob-Waksberg explained how he came to realise that the casting decision “wasn’t okay”, and recounted how he decided to broach the topic in a 2018 interview with Uproxx.

He admitted to “making some unforced errors” in that interview,”like saying about the conception of Diane, ‘She’s going to be fully American, her race is barely going to play a factor and she’s just going to be a person,’ which is a very ignorant way to talk about a [woman of colour], real or fictional!”

Bob-Waksberg went on to say that it was a “mistake” not to have a Vietnamese writer on the show to reflect Diane’s heritage.

“Even in the small ways we wrote to Diane’s experience as a woman of colour, or more specifically an Asian woman, we rarely got specific enough to think about what it meant to be SPECIFICALLY VIETNAMESE-AMERICAN and that was a huge (racist!) error on my part,” he added.

“The intention behind the character is I wanted to write AWAY from stereotypes and create an Asian American character who wasn’t defined solely by her race. But I went too far in the other direction. We are all defined SOMEWHAT by our race! Of course we are! It is part of us!”

Bojack Horseman concluded in January 2020 this year after a sixth and final season.

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