Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×
Search
Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

The 10 Best AANHPI Shows to Binge-Watch Now

From reality shows and comedies to documentaries and dramas, here’s your must-see watch list


spinner image Brian Tee and Nicole Kidman in Expats, Hiroto Kanai in Shogun and Lisa Lus in Death and Other Details
(Left to right) Brian Tee and Nicole Kidman in "Expats"; Hiroto Kanai in "Shōgun"; Lisa Lu in "Death and Other Details."
Prime; Hulu; FX

Asian talents have been unprecedentedly visible in Hollywood lately. On the big screen, there was Simu Liu in Barbie, who also performed in the “I’m Just Ken” number at the 2024 Academy Awards, where The Boy and the Heron and Godzilla Minus One were honored with Oscars. Past Lives and Perfect Days received Academy Award nominations.

On the small screen, the trend may be even more pronounced. Here’s just a small selection of shows worth celebrating during Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine. Find out how much you could save in a year with a membership. Learn more.

Join Now

Death and Other Details (2024)

Why to watch: If Columbo and Hercule Poirot had a love child and raised it in the Knives Out mansion, the result might look a little like this luxury-cruise-ship murder mystery. Even when its convolutions get too convoluted, the series sprinkles its sparkly style so liberally across the massive, diverse cast that you enjoy watching who-didn’t-do-it almost as much as working out whodunnit. The Asian characters, who really come into their own from episode 3 on, span the show’s social strata, with woman-led Chinese clans representing both the Succession-style mega-rich and the below-decks staff. The vast disparity in wealth masks the strange similarity of skeletons in the closet.

Whom to watch: Mandy Patinkin, 71, is the best-known name in the cast, but Angela Zhou (Supergirl) is a standout as the steely manager of a ship’s staff that includes many of her relatives. Her opposite number across the social divide is the ruthless matriarch of a Chinese fast-fashion empire (Lisa Lu, 97, The Joy Luck Club, The Last Emperor).

Where to watch: Hulu, Disney+

What to watch next: If the lightweight murder-iness of this show has you craving something similar but with a darker heart, check out Mr. and Mrs. Smith on Prime Video. Maya Erskine (PEN15), who is of Japanese descent, summons up a storm of chemistry with Donald Glover (Atlanta) as the titular husband-and-wife spy team.

Expats (2024)

Why to watch: A deeply felt and richly textured drama, based on Janice Y.K. Lee’s best-selling novel The Expatriates, Expats is a prestige package, from its star, Nicole Kidman, 56, to its brilliant writer-director, Lulu Wang (The Farewell). Showcasing a cross-section of Hong Kong’s multinational population that is brought into collision by a tragedy just as unrest breaks out across the city during the 2014 Umbrella Protests, the limited series is a thoughtful, provocative and beautifully made examination of female relationships, expat privilege and troubled consciences navigating troubled times.

Whom to watch: Kidman’s glacially grief-stricken Margaret may be the center of this somber yet rewarding drama, but Sarayu Blue and Ji-young Yoo both deserve to break out as, respectively, Margaret’s cynical best friend and her unwitting young enemy.

Where to watch: Prime Video

What to watch next: If you’re interested in the expat/immigrant experience but the other way round, run, don’t walk, back to Prime Video to see Lulu Wang’s exceptional, funny-sad-sweet-insightful feature debut, The Farewell, starring Awkwafina.

Shōgun (2024)

Why to watch: Probably the best and certainly the most beautiful TV show that 2024 has so far given us, this magnificent adaptation of the 1975 novel by James Clavell is epic storytelling. Starting with the arrival in Japan of a pugnacious Briton (Cosmo Jarvis) in 1600 — when the isolationist nation was regarded as a myth by much of the West — the show quickly unfurls in every conceivable direction, taking in Portuguese missionaries, religious discontent, trade wars, manifold regional conflicts and internecine political wrangling over the imperial succession. Rich in historical detail, Shōgun is some of the most thrilling, romantic and action-packed TV in recent memory.

Whom to watch: This is an immaculate cast across the board, but the performances that will linger with you most come from the stunning Japanese actor Anna Sawai (Giri/Haji, Pachinko) and well-known veteran Hiroyuki Sanada (Lost, Westworld, Avengers: Endgame), 63, who, as the brilliant but embattled Lord Toranaga, has finally been gifted a role equal to his talents.

Where to watch: FX, Hulu, Disney+

What to watch next: Shōgun has been hailed as the natural successor to Game of Thrones, but the same could apply to Netflix’s 3 Body Problem, an ambitious — though necessarily simplified — adaptation of Chinese author Cixin Liu’s extraordinary sci-fi novel brought to you by the Thrones showrunners themselves.

Beef (2023)

Why to watch: The original, offbeat and scabrously compulsive story of a minor road rage incident that escalates beyond all reckoning, Beef is a remarkably astute commentary on class, race and model-minority expectations among the older millennial cohort. It’s also a landmark for Asian American representation, being both entirely about the specificity of the Asian American experience and not about it at all. In pursuit of their own second-generation American dreams, these toweringly petty characters are spiteful, often hateful, but always very human.

Shopping & Groceries

Walmart+

$20 off a Walmart+ annual membership

See more Shopping & Groceries offers >

Whom to watch: The performances, from a virtually all-Asian cast, are across-the-board excellent, but it’s the incredible interplay between stars Steven Yeun (Minari) and Ali Wong (Always Be My Maybe), along with the crackling writing, that really elevates Beef to must-watch status.

Where to watch: Netflix

What to watch next: If the powerhouse performances leave you jonesing for more from its leads, there are not one, not two, but three Netflix comedy specials featuring Ali Wong doing her salty brand of stand-up, while Steven Yeun’s TV breakout, The Walking Dead (he appears in a whopping 66 episodes over the first seven seasons), is available on streamers including Netflix.

The Chair (2021)

Why to watch: The trials and triumphs of the new Korean American chair of the English department at an Ivy League university may not seem like a particularly exciting premise, but add in Sandra Oh, 52, and her sparky chemistry with costar Jay Duplass, plus a script that bursts with inside-baseball wit about the politics and perils of academia, and you have a tasty little snack.

Whom to watch: It’s strange that it took the TV world so long to realize that the Korean Canadian Oh, after years of Emmy nominations for her supporting work in Grey’s Anatomy, has actually been a lead all along. But after starring in Killing Eve, she anchors this comedy-drama hybrid, carrying the tricky tone effortlessly with her trademark mixture of piercing relatability and note-perfect comic timing.

Where to watch: Netflix

What to watch next: If the six-episode season leaves you yearning for character-rich, amiable comedy, albeit in a more familiar mode, all five seasons of the lovable, though sadly now ended, Kim’s Convenience is on Netflix.

Young Rock (2021–23)

Why to watch: The chronicle of the rise and rise of everyone’s favorite American ex-wrestler superstar of Black Nova Scotian and Samoan descent, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, 51, switches between flashbacks and flash-forwards to Johnson’s (extremely plausible) 2032 presidential bid.

Whom to watch: Recurring and guest stars like Randall Park, 50, and Sean Astin, 53, plus 21 real wrestlers in cameo roles.

Where to watch: Peacock

What to watch next: If amusingly fictionalized real life is your thing, take a look at True Story With Ed and Randall on Peacock and Prime Video, in which Ed Helms, 50, and Randall Park orchestrate (often hilarious) reenactments of real tales from the lives of ordinary people.

Pachinko (2022–)

Why to watch: With interest in Korean drama at an all-time high stateside, a prime candidate for your next K-obsession is this Apple TV+ hit. Pachinko is an exquisite adaptation of Min Jin Lee’s best-selling novel, which spans almost the entire 20th century and follows the intricate fortunes and crisscrossing relationships of a Korean family that immigrates to Japan and sets up a Pachinko parlor business.

Whom to watch: Among a Korean cast that’s not (yet) well known in the U.S., Youn Yuh-jung, 76, is one familiar face (she won a best supporting actress Oscar for Minari).

Where to watch: Apple TV+

What to watch next: For more K-drama that’s a little lighter on the sumptuousness and heavier on the sentimentality, try Netflix’s Move to Heaven.

spinner image AARP Membership Card

LEARN MORE ABOUT AARP MEMBERSHIP.

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

The Night Of (2016)

Why to watch: In a fantastic miniseries scripted by Steven Zaillian (Ripley) and Richard Price (The Wire), British Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed (a best actor Oscar nominee for The Sound of Metal) plays a young Pakistani American accused of murdering a woman in New York City.

Whom to watch: While Ahmed gives a beautifully subtle, ambiguous turn as Nasir, the (wrongly?) accused young man, Poorna Jagannathan, 51, is delicately devastating as his mother, and John Turturro, 67, might just best them both with his unforgettable role as the scruffy, psoriasis-afflicted, no-hope lawyer who takes on Nasir’s defense.

Where to watch: Max, Prime Video

What to watch next: For more intelligent, grownup, cross-cultural drama, watch the gritty cop procedural Giri/Haji on Netflix.

 

Old Enough! (2022–)

Why to watch: In this long-running Japanese TV phenomenon, recut into digestible segments of around 10 minutes each for Netflix’s international viewership, children as young as 2 are sent out into the world to try to complete certain tasks. It’s a celebration of the resourcefulness of kids: The sheer pride and self-confidence they gain when they complete their little jobs is genuinely heartwarming. Although the winsome music and encouraging sports-commentator-style narration might grate after a while, with episodes this bite-size and children this freaking adorable, this show can’t overstay its welcome.

Whom to watch: The kids! They’re amazing! Whether carefully negotiating a road crossing or gently berating themselves for having forgotten part of their grocery list, they make for riveting, strangely soothing TV.

Where to watch: Netflix

What to watch next: For more wholesome programming about Japanese lifestyle choices, check out Netflix’s Sparking Joy, in which decluttering guru Marie Kondo helps out three busy professionals struggling with work-life balance.

Street Food: Asia (2019)

Why to watch: Vicariously experience the street food of bustling cities. Watching people share jokes and banter over deliciously fresh-cooked, no-nonsense meals might inspire you to attempt to re-create some of the astonishing variety of specialties on display.

Whom to watch: Hard to say which country “wins,” but the Thai street-vendor-turned-Michelin-starred chef lovingly cooking yet another crabmeat omelet in a massive wok on an open fire is a perfect example of everything this show can be: fascinating, joyful, mouthwatering.

Where to watch: Netflix

What to watch next: Still hungry? Try The Chef Show, a cooking travelogue hosted by Jon Favreau, 57, and Korean American chef Roy Choi, 54.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?