From music show performances to variety programme appearances, K-pop idols are no stranger to going on Korean television as part of their promotional activities. But did you know that they’ve also been making their rounds on the Western media? Since the Hallyu wave’s international reach, the world of Korean pop has been steadily turning into a global domination – and American TV has been quick to embrace the phenomenon by including K-pop references in their series. Here are eight great scene-stealers that you might want to catch up on.
#1 Family Guy
Who would have thought that K-pop would make an appearance in an animation? Created by Seth MacFarlane, the Emmy-nominated Family Guy did a special Korean-themed episode in their 14th season named ‘Candy, Quahog Marshmallow’, where Peter Griffin (Seth MacFarlane) discovers that one of his best friends Quagmire, had actually been a Korean soap star. This leads them to South Korea, where they encounter their first K-pop experience through the viewing of a real-life version of SISTAR’s music video for ‘Touch My Body’.
Probably one of the hottest shows before the series finale in 2015, Glee is known for pushing boundaries with its storyline and reintroducing the modern generation to an incredible discography that includes music from all kinds of genres. Being a champion of diversity, it’s no surprise when K-influences are included in the mix. In a scene from the eighth episode off their fourth season, Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr), who is a member of the New Directions, can be seen teaching his fellow choir mates the basics of dance with a little help from BIGBANG and their hit song, ‘Fantastic Baby’.
As the title would suggest, this series is about the devil himself – Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) – who is a nightclub owner and doubles up as a detective consultant for the LAPD. Their surprising K-pop connection came in the 13th episode of the third season when Lucifer had a very meta moment with SHINee’s ‘Lucifer’ that was used during a fight scene. It should also be noted that this isn’t the first time the team behind Lucifer has used Korean pop songs in their series as CL and BIGBANG’s T.O.P have both been featured before!
#4 NCIS New Orleans
While most people would argue that the demographic for NCIS New Orleans might be slightly older, it seems like the writers of the series has just proven us wrong with their very up-to-date K-pop references. The eighth episode of their current season saw Hannah Khoury (Necar Zadegan), a K-pop savvy NCIS agent, using her knowledge on NCT Dream to break the ice with a high-schooler she’s trying to interview. Despite her seemingly wrong pronunciation of the members’ names and a far-fetched scenario of hanging out with the boys in Busan, we still give the show an A+ for effort.
In one of the wittiest ways of K-pop portrayal in mainstream American television, the short-lived sitcom Selfie gives a somewhat honest representation of how non-Koreans often assume a Korean reacts in real life. In the fourth episode, we see one of the young characters who’s a budding DJ get asked to cut short his play time for bed. But instead of packing it up, he dedicates a song – which happens to be the catchy K-pop banger ‘Bar Bar Bar’ by Crayon Pop – to his Korean-American guardian Henry Higgs (John Cho). Despite his sarcastic retort to address the suggested stereotype, it’s hilarious how he couldn’t resist bopping along to the addictive beat.
#6 Silicon Valley
Understanding just how big of a draw BTS is in America, cable network HBO decided to use the septet’s widely popular track ‘MIC Drop’ as the official trailer song for the promotion of the fifth season of Silicon Valley. While the boys aren’t exactly audible enough to be instantly recognised, ARMYs around the world are quick to spot the familiar beats as well as the iconic lyrics of “Haters gon’ hate, players gon’ play” at the end of the trailer.
#7 The Bold Type
Inspired by life in fashion publishing, The Bold Type follows three girls on their path to finding their own voices in a sea of intimidating leaders. As it’s a series about women, it’s only natural to include a significant female K-pop group as the accompanying music for their debut episode. BLACKPINK’s ‘Whistle’ is used in a scene that features one of the three main characters as she gets ready for a date. Unlike other shows where the music gets turned down to accommodate the character’s dialogue, you can actually hear the girls’ pristine vocals loud and clear without any interruptions!
#8 The Magicians
Described as a grown-up version of Harry Potter, this fantasy series follows a group of pop culture-savvy millennials with the gift of magic as they encounter insane surprises that challenge them at every turn. Similar to the premise of the series, The Magicians surprises with their usage of 2NE1’s ‘I Am The Best’ in a scene off the seventh episode of season two, where one of the magicians Eliot Waugh (Hale Appleman) has engaged his magical object to induce his intended targets in a dance trance.
Are there any other K-pop easter eggs we missed out in American TV shows? Let us know in the comments below!