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  • Glen Loveland

Forget Dubbing: This Trend in Asian Entertainment Will Leave You Speechless

South Korean Cinema Ticket

Over the Memorial Day Weekend, I dove into a couple of captivating pieces from the New York Times that got me thinking about the evolving landscape of entertainment.

One was an interview with Ted Sarandos, the co-chief executive of Netflix who has been shaping the company's creative direction for nearly 24 years. His perspective on how Netflix plans to stay ahead in the escalating streaming wars was illuminating. I especially appreciated his insights on their strategy of providing an extremely broad range of content to appeal to their massive global subscriber base. As Sarandos put it, "I love 'The Crown,' and I love 'Is It Cake?' And I love them both equally, which doesn't make any sense!" That's the world we live in now--our viewing habits contain multitudes.

The other article explored the surge of Asian-language programming entering the American mainstream. Shows like "Beef" and movies like "Everything Everywhere All at Once" are thrilling audiences by presenting perspectives, narrative structures, and aesthetics that feel bracingly new.

Speaking of "Beef," have you checked it out yet? It's a dark comedy series on Netflix starring Steven Yeun and Ali Wong. The show follows two strangers, a failing contractor and an unfulfilled entrepreneur, whose chance encounter in a road rage incident sparks a bitter feud that gradually consumes their lives. Over 10 tightly crafted episodes, creator Lee Sung Jin takes us on a wild ride as the characters' darkest impulses are unleashed, leading to increasingly surreal and dangerous situations. It's a searing exploration of unchecked rage, hidden pain, and the elusive nature of happiness in modern life.

Let's talk about the real meat of "Beef"—and I'm not just talking about the title! Can we take a moment to appreciate the sizzling sexiness of Steven Yeun and Young Mazino? And let's be real, I was ready for a sandwich. Wink!

And can we talk about how Steven Yeun just gets better with age? That man is like a fine wine—smooth, intoxicating, and pairs well with anything. He could read the phone book, and I'd be weak in the knees. Young Mazino, too, is an absolute snack. The intensity he brings to his scenes is just mouthwatering.

"Beef" is a prime example of the kind of fresh, uncompromising storytelling that's possible when diverse voices are empowered to share their singular visions. And based on the Sarandos interview, it seems Netflix is all-in on betting on those visions, even as legacy studios stumble to adapt to the new rules of the game.

My own anecdote from my time living in China, where audiences overwhelming preferred watching American films with subtitles rather than dubbed, speaks to the strong desire to experience stories in their most authentic form. There's a bigger world out there, and as entertainment becomes increasingly globalized, I believe the "tired Western tropes" will be forced to make room for a richer, more expansive cultural conversation.

I'm hopeful that Netflix and other emerging power players will continue to make bold, globe-spanning choices in their programming. And I'm excited to keep discovering groundbreaking series like "Beef" that challenge, move, and expand my understanding of what stories can be told and how. Let's all lean into that.


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