Some 15 years ago, in September of 1994, ABC debuted a family sitcom starring comedian Margaret Cho. All American Girl stars Cho as Margaret Kim, a fledgling stand-up who tries to balance modern life with the traditional values of her Korean parents (Jodi Long and Clyde Kusatsu).
Also living in the home are her medical student brother, Stuart (B.D. Wong), young brother Eric (J.B. Quon), and TV-obsessed grandmother (Amy Hill). Margaret spent her days working at the beauty counter of a department store alongside friends Gloria (Judy Gold) and Ruthie (Maddie Corman)
The ratings for All American Girl weren’t what the network wanted and producers kept adjusting the premise to try to boost viewership. Cho felt that the show’s premise got too watered down by all of the outside interference. She got into a public dispute with the execs and says that she was asked to do things like lose a significant amount of weight and act “more Asian.”
By the final episode, the initial premise and the entire supporting cast (with the exception of Grandma) had been dropped. Margaret has suddenly moved out of her parents’ home and she’s now living with three young male friends; Phil (Sam Seder), Jimmy (Andrew Lowry), and Spencer (Diedrich Baker). Cho has said that, at this point, she was told that she was acting “too Asian” for the new setting.
It’s believed that the final episode was a final attempt to save the show and relaunch it as a new sitcom called Young Americans. If that’s true, it didn’t work. ABC decided to cut their losses and All American Girl ended on March 15, 1995. Here’s what happened in the episode titled “Young Americans.”
Margaret comes home to her apartment after an amazing job interview. If all goes well she’ll soon be the assistant to the assistant of the associate producer of Bleach Records. If she gets the job, they’ll call her tomorrow. While she and the three guys enjoy pizza, the pizza box moves because there’s a mouse underneath. Margaret and law student Spencer want to call an exterminator immediately while sensitive Jimmy and insecure Phil don’t want the creature to be killed.
Grandma stops by with treats for everyone and the guys devour them. She leaves to meet a friend to buy herself her own TV set.
Spencer starts to call an exterminator but the phone’s dead. Apparently Phil forgot to show the roommates the final notice and the phone service has been cut off. Margaret and Phil go to the phone company office and pay the bill. They’re told by the phone company rep (guest Vicki Lawrence) that there’s still an outstanding balance of $147.38 because of reconnect fees and interest. Phil lies and says that the payment is so late because Margaret has been really sick. The rep feels bad and says that, as long as Margaret can bring a doctor’s note to back up the story, she’ll waive the extra fees.
At the Goat’s Head bar, Spencer hits on the no-nonsense bartender, Jane (Marishka Hargitay), without success. Margaret comes in and explains to Spencer that they need to come up with $147. He says that, more importantly, they need to find money to hire an exterminator. Since they can’t afford both, he urges her to try to get the doctor’s note.
Margaret goes to her physician, elderly Dr. Park (guest Arsenio ‘Sonny’ Trinidad), with her Grandma to try to get a note. Margaret’s a terrible liar but fortunately for her, the doctor Grandma and hates the phone company and writes an excuse for her.
Phil gets two tickets to the Green Day concert and asks Jane at the bar. She agrees to go and he’s very thankful. Phil shows her the fake doctor’s note he’s made up for the phone company, signed by a “Doctor Welby Marcus.” He plans to go down to the phone company in the morning to get everything fixed. He passes Margaret on his way out and she shows Spencer her doctor’s note.
The next day, Margaret gets ready to leave to pay the phone charges as hunky Tim the exterminator (guest John Terlesky) arrives. Tim tells Spencer that his company charges $100 for mice and $40 for roaches. Spencer says that he has $57 and suggests that Tim tell his boss that he found roaches (instead of mice) and keep the extra $17 for himself. Tim notes that he owns the company himself.
Just then, Jimmy comes running in, screaming. He’d been protecting the mouse in his room and it just bit him. Jimmy has changed his mind about protecting the rodent. Margaret makes a date with the handsome exterminator, leaves for the phone company, and hurriedly passes a very proud Jimmy.
Margaret gives her note to the phone rep but she’s not buying any of it, having just read Jimmy’s fake note. She’s gets really mad and tells Margaret that the fees must be paid by tomorrow morning or they will double.
Later, Phil apologizes for messing things up. The guys try to pool their cash but they don’t have enough — especially Phil, who just paid a scalper $180 for the Green Day concert tickets. They demand that he sell the tickets to pay the phone charges.
Sometime later, Margaret waits with her Grandma for the phone service to come back on. Grandma feels badly and offers to pay the phone charges but Margaret can’t take her money. Phil returns home and admits that he couldn’t bring himself to sell the tickets because he’ll miss his chance with Jane. Margaret gets tough and drags him down to the bar where he finally sell the tickets. Margaret leaves with the money.
At the end of the day, Tim the exterminator meets a dejected Margaret at the bar. After all that trouble, the record company didn’t even call. Jimmy and Spencer enter the bar and are upset at Tim because they were playing pool at home and the mouse popped out of one of the pool table pockets. Margaret has had enough and is laying into her self-centered roommates when Phil arrives. She’s mad at him as well, until he tells her that the record company called. She got the job.
There’s happiness all around, until Margaret finds the phone company final notice in her coat pocket. It turns out that she’s the one responsible for the whole mess happening in the first place.
As the credits roll, Margaret returns home from her new job and happily tells her three roommates and grandmother about her day. She made coffee for 20 people, picked up dry cleaning, and bought and returned the lunch of her boss. She loves it! Dating Tim didn’t work out so well but Grandma suggests that Margaret give him a second try — since they now have ants! End of series.