Jimmy O. Yang’s turn as Jian Yang, the unpredictable, sociopathic trickster on Silicon Valley is one of my favorite Asian American TV characters of all time. Because his Asian identity and/or racist stereotyping doesn’t seem to inform any of his actions, there’s an interiority to Jian Yang often missing from many Asian characters in American media.
Maybe I’m reaching here, but I wonder if playing Jian Yang helped shape Jimmy’s decidedly un-typecast career, as he’s gone on to play characters from rocket scientist to romantic lead. The slightly frustrating thing is that despite the various hats we’ve seen him wear, he’s had only one look both on and off the camera.
No, not like the way Jeff Goldblum has managed to slay for decades without ever really changing his look, Jimmy’s center-parted, chin-length bob and thick-framed glasses has been constant, but doesn’t always suit the role. OK, maybe the haircut worked when he played a sleazy nouveau riche playboy in Crazy Rich Asians, but how do you explain having him sport the same look as a romcom romantic lead without even giving him a She’s All That makeover transformation??
Long story short, I was delighted to find Jimmy sporting a fresh new cut in his recent Mr. Feelgood profile, in a photoshoot that captures a confident, slow-burn smolder that I’ve never seen him reveal previously. Some of these photos make me feel like he’s been taking lessons from his fellow Hong Konger Tony Leung, the master of bedroom eyes himself.
I’ve always found Jimmy to be boy-next-door cute, a qualifier surely no man wants to hear. We are actually exactly the same age, and I feel like we could’ve been fellow theatre nerds in high school. I could picture him playing Billy Flynn in Chicago, or the narrator in Our Town. It’s true that he doesn’t have traditional “leading man” features, but not everyone is turned on by mainstream standards of masculinity. If Jimmy didn’t have magnetism he wouldn’t have been cast in Love Hard as the one who gets the girl in the end.
But even your unconventional leading man needs a little help in the fashion and beauty department; just think of what Stanley Tucci’s Nigel did for Anne Hathaway’s Andy in The Devil Wears Prada. The right styling can truly take someone from drab to dapper in an instant. I mean, just look at him now!
I don’t know who Jimmy’s Nigel was, or whether this was a magazine directive or prep for a new role or what, but from the bottom of my heart: thank you.
Published on April 6, 2022