I watched Singapore Dreaming on YouTube. I found it a little underwhelming. I respect Colin and Yen a lot as writers, and I think “Paved With Good Intentions” is one of the best Singaporean essays ever written.
I think I was slightly underwhelmed by Singapore Dreaming because I couldn’t sympathise with the characters. All of them were a little emotionally stunted. All of them were childish and immature in their own way. What do you root for, for each character? The former Army regular turned insurance agent – CK – why should we root for him? (In The Incredibles, we see Mr. Incredible cooped up and working for an insurance company too – and we root for him because we know that he’s super strong, and that his super strength ought to be put to good use. But it can’t.) I’m of the opinion that CK should’ve been made a really good guitarist – that would have made him a more interesting, compelling character in my view. I’d root for him more.
(Also, CK should have organised a meetup with his friends before trying to sell them insurance. He’d have better luck once they’d had dinner and drinks and were in a good, cheerful mood.)
A boss calling his pregnant, grieving secretary to office to photocopy things and make him coffee – that’s a little too hard to believe, for me. But okay.
(The boss’s wife asking the visibly pregnant secretary to clean up a mess in her home is also a little ludicrous. But I suppose that’s a somewhat recurring theme in the show, how people treat their help.)
The gender aspects were pretty good – about the subtle(?) sexism in asian families, valuing and rewarding sons over daughters.