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Asian Americans

Airs Tuesdays at 11 p.m. May 4- June 1 

Title slide for Asian American show on PBS

Explore the impact of Asian Americans, the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, on the country’s past, present and future, told through individual lives and personal histories. See how new immigrants from China, Japan and beyond, despite anti-Asian laws, build railroads, dazzle in Hollywood and fight for equality. Then, the first generation of U.S.-born Asian Americans have their loyalties tested during World War II.

Episode Descriptions

Episode 1: Breaking Ground

In an era of exclusion and U.S. empire, new immigrants arrive from China, India, Japan, the Philippines and beyond. Barred by anti-Asian laws, they become America’s first “undocumented immigrants,” yet they build railroads, dazzle on the silver screen and take their fight for equality to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Episode 2: A Question of Loyalty

An American-born generation straddles their country of birth and their parents’ homelands in Asia. Those loyalties are tested during World War II, when families are imprisoned in detention camps, and brothers find themselves on opposite sides of the battle lines.

Episode 3: Good Americans

During the Cold War years, Asian Americans are simultaneously heralded as a Model Minority, and targeted as the perpetual foreigner. It is also a time of bold ambition, as Asian Americans aspire for the first time to national political office and a coming culture-quake simmers beneath the surface.

Episode 4: Generation Rising

During a time of war and social tumult, a young generation fights for equality in the fields, on campuses and in the culture, and claims a new identity: Asian American. The war’s aftermath brings new immigrants and refugees who expand the population and the definition of Asian America.

Episode 5: Breaking Through

At the turn of the new millennium, the country tackles conflicts over immigration, race, economic disparity, and a shifting world order. A new generation of Asian Americans is empowered by growing numbers and rising influence, but faces a reckoning of what it means to be an American in an increasingly polarized society.