Would the show have worked if McGarrett was Asian?

by Shigato Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:22 pm

Bit of an odd question, but please hear me out.

The thought popped into my mind after re-watching a good part of the first season and pilot, and that is what if McGarrett was Japanese-American, as it was one of the largest ethnic groups in Hawaii, especially Honolulu, in the 60s and 70s? Would the show have worked with audiences, or would their be racial backlash in the 60s and 70s? Would the show have lasted as long? The actor would be of the same quality of Lord, everything else would be the same, the lead Five-O would just be Asian.

by North Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:59 am

My gut tells me no, Asian in the 60's still meant the Japanese enemy to the WW2 generation and the Chinese communist threat to just as many other Americans. Also before H50 came along it wouldn't have made sense to almost all Americans since Hawaii in their mind at that time was a new US state full of "Americans" and some native Hawaiians.

It's shows like H50 that were part of Americans getting a better (not perfect but better) sense of what the people of Hawaii really looked like.

by H50 1.0 FOREVER* Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:10 pm

I agree with North. Five-0 first aired a scant 23 years after the end of World War II. Emotions still ran high -- and still do today, to some extent. Beyond that, McGarrett was a graduate of the US Naval Academy and a Commander in the US Navy Reserve Forces. He had served in the Korean War. His security clearance enabled Five-0 to work together with military intelligence. For this story line to work, McGarrett had to have attended Annapolis and served in the years immediately following World War II. Highly unlikely for an Asian at that point in time. Just as it would be highly unlikely for a Middle Eastern McGarrett to be accepted today. And just as unlikely for an English McGarrett to have been accepted after the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812. Or . . . The list goes on. Time heals all wounds. The US and England did not establish allied ties until 1939, 125 years after the end of the War of 1812.

by Shigato Tue Jan 17, 2017 5:10 pm

Interesting, thanks for the responses. I suppose even Bruce Lee did face a bit of a reluctant audience in the 60s originally.

Now there is a good hypothetical, Bruce Lee as McGarrett.

by North Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:06 am

This got me thinking who else could have been McG instead of Lord back then? Who else could have pulled it off for 12 years? Not necessarily being a similar type character actor, they could have taken a different twist on the role but still be successful.

by Shigato Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:44 am

Richard Boone and Gregory Peck were both offered McGarrett but declined. Robert Brown was also offered it, and he probably would have done the best job out of the bunch, along with Gregory Peck.

by North Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:25 am

Robert Brown? was he the star trek guy in a forever fight with himself?

I guess its a tribute to Jack Lord that I can't imagine anyone else in that role. I was in Hawaii over the holidays with the family so I loaded up some 1st season episodes of H5O onto my ipad for the flight. During the pilot he sure established his character solidly.

by Mr. Mike Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:11 am

I don't think the show would have been successful if McGarrett was Asian. After all, the 1961 film Flower Drum Song, which had an almost all-Asian cast and dealt with some serious social issues, was the only Hollywood adaptation of a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical to lose money, according to Wikipedia.

by Shigato Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:55 pm

Good points by all, and indeed Mike, it was a decent musical, too.

In a hypothetical, Teru Shimada would have made a good Asian McGarrett, certainly has the classically handsome looks for it.