The Walking Dead's Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) was always cool, but somewhere along the way he got seriously hot.
Glenn started as the risk-taker who saved Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in Atlanta and loved driving that fast car down an open highway. He was always the go-to guy to solve problems or go down a well. But he wore a baseball hat and looked more like a kid than a typical manly man like Shane (Jon Bernthal) or Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus).
On Season 2, he met Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) and she was into him. He was as surprised as anyone — this hot girl singled him out? — but by the end of Season 2 he was fully confident in the relationship. In Season 3, Glenn was a true badass — remember that scene in Woodbury with the walker, the chair, and his primal scream? In Season 4, he was partially sidelined from sickness, but we're way past wondering why Maggie’s into him. She’s lucky to have such a loyal man supporting and protecting her. He's not a kid anymore, and we just hope "Gleggie" won't be separated for long in the back half of Season 4.
So it was with some surprise that we saw a new story out of Daily Life in Australia, called "When Asian men are seen as 'undateable." It referenced Glenn and Maggie's relationship, saying it was unusual since "in fiction or in real life, Asian men, unlike their female counterparts, seem to have it tough when it comes to dating people outside of their race." As they noted, Asian women are increasingly courted, but their male counterparts seem to be "shunned."
More than 400 students were surveyed in a 2007 study by Columbia University during a speed dating session. African-American women and white women said “yes” 65 percent less often to the prospect of dating Asian men after the speed dating session, in comparison to men of their own race. “Asian men are often depicted as geeky nerds with high intelligence but low charisma," said clinical psychologist Dr. Janet Hall.
PolicyMic writer Justin Chan — whose previous piece titled "Are Asian Men Undateable?" appears to be the impetus for Daily Life's article — wrote that the stereotyping of Asian-Americans in the media often leaves Asian-American men feeling a burden to prove themselves against Asian stereotypes or keep to themselves in fear of rejection.
"Despite iconic masculine Asian role models like Bruce Lee, Asian men are often portrayed as scrawny males who spend more time studying than lifting weights in the gym, appearing in popular culture as soft-spoken, reserved types who rarely take part in activities that people qualify as 'masculine' like professional football or construction work, as characters played for laughs," Justin wrote. "These depictions run counter to what society tells us women want: someone confident, tall, dark, and handsome."
Interesting. Just this past October, before the launch of Season 4, The Nerds of Color celebrated Glenn as "the best response to anti-Asian stereotyping on TV."
"Unlike previous Asian American characters, Glenn is at once Asian American and incidentally Asian American,” they wrote. “Conspicuous among other Asian American characters, Glenn’s racial background does not define or justify his presence. He’s not the computer whiz, the scientist, the intellectual, the geek, the doctor, the technician, or a host of other stereotypical roles typically relegated to the Asian token. Although it is implied that Glenn’s parents were strict, Glenn himself was a pizza boy prior to the zombie apocalypse and assumes the role of forager and fighter — not ‘medic’ or ‘ninja,’ two roles that might be stereotypically Asian yet fulfilled by other members of the group. In short, there’s almost nothing inherently stereotypical about Glenn and his presence in The Walking Dead."
Nice. These are things we probably wouldn’t even think about when just watching the show, but good for TWD for helping to combat stereotypes.
It’s hard to imagine there’s a woman in the world who wouldn’t want to date a guy like Glenn. In fact, he’s should give dating advice to Daryl — Dixon boy may have the muscles but he lacks the social skills to get any action. Show the man how it’s done, Glenn!
The Walking Dead Season 4 returns on Sunday, February 9 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.
Sources: PolicyMic, Daily Life, New York Times, The Nerds of Color