Outrage erupts over ‘Doogie Howser’ reboot because title actress isn’t native Hawaiian, only half Asian

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A reboot of the popular 1990s television hit, “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” was hit with a backlash of outrage after some objected to a half-Asian American actress portraying the half native Hawaiian lead character.

The show “Doogie Kamealoha MD” is a reimagining of the old show but set with a female lead in Hawaii. While some praised the show for being more diverse than the original, others complained that it wasn’t representative enough.

“[D]isney couldn’t get an actual Native Hawaiian to play Doogie Kameāloha ? Huh???” said one disappointed social media user.

“This is why ‘AAPI’ [Asian American and Pacific Islander] is a harmful label and perpetuates the idea that asian & PIs are interchangeable,” they continued.

The title character, Lahela “Doogie” Kamealoha, is being portrayed by actress Peyton Elizabeth Lee, who is Chinese on her father’s side and Irish and Italian on her mother’s side. The character is half native Hawaiian and half Irish.

Some on social media thought it was “problematic” to have an actress of half-Chinese descent portraying a character who was half native Hawaiian.

“[H]m I think I’m gonna rant about Disney casting a non-indigenous actor as an indigenous character because I have the time tonight,” wrote another critic. “I’m very peeved!!”

Some tweeted angrily at CAPE, the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, for praising the show on Twitter.

“Why are you promoting a show that cast a non-Native Hawaiian actor when the role is Native Hawaiian? Why would an actor take that role, especially knowing the history and problems of whitewashing Asian roles?” said an account of a queer and indigenous news outlet.

“Get Pacific Islander out of your name, bio, and mouth if youre not going to care that they cast a non-Pacific Islander to play the kanaka MC,” said another, using the native Hawaiian name for Hawaiians.

“[R]eally hurts when you’re an organization that’s for asians AND pacific islanders yet not commenting on how this show is complicit in the erasure of Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians),” read another critical tweet. “[W]e are highly underrepresented and misrepresented in media which is sick and no one seems to care.”

“Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.” premieres Sept. 8 on Disney Plus.

Here’s the trailer for the new “Doogie” show:


Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. | Official Trailer | Disney+

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