The series on VICE premieres Sept. 30
Eddie Huang's trailer for season two of 'Fresh Off the Boat' premieres.
Season two of Eddie Huang's show Fresh Off the Boat with VICE premieres Sept. 30, promising to show the food-focused underbelly of Detroit, Moscow, Mongolia, Chengdu, Shanghai, and New York.
In the press release, Huang (of New York's Baohaus), talks about "resistance." "As it stands, we live in an oppressive global feudalism where the individual creates and lays its treasures up to the 1% with no other option but to live the life of a digital peasant. Although we have the luxury of watching Breaking Bad from a couch flanked by bowls of Shin Ramyun and Black Forest Gummy Bears, the fact of the matter is that we live in a feudal global economy with slightly better soma and Heisenberg with a hundred and ninety-six faces (countries in the world)," he says.
Of course, the trailer itself shows footage perhaps less poetic and poignant, but still gritty, in much-lauded VICE style. There's plenty of food porn, some footage of the wreckage in Detroit, some scantily clad ladies, a panda, Eddie Huang saying "f*ck you" to Citi Bikes, and Eddie Huang throwing up. That is, of course, just the trimming.
Watch the trailer below, where Huang admits, "I knew that my life was not going to be revolving around a career as a chef." Instead, he says, "The plate has a place as ground zero for understanding and observing the clash of today's civilizations." Watch out for plenty of animal heads.
Eddie Huang Is Not Very Happy With “Fresh Off The Boat”
“Fresh Off The Boat” is a bonafide critical success. Audiences love it for the wonder that is Constance Wu and the representation of a culture so rarely seen on network TV. There’s one person who doesn’t love it, and that is Eddie Huang, author of the book that inspired the show. Before the show’s release, he published a lengthy piece in New York magazine, detailing his discomfort with the show, and now, as the first season winds its way to a close, he’s taken to Twitter to let us all know what he really thinks.
I am a fan of “Fresh Off The Boat”, even though I recognize the fact that it’s a slightly watered-down version of what really happened in Huang’s memoir. I understand also how that would sting to someone who’s worked so very hard to bring the story of their childhood to life on national television. There’s great pressure in presenting your story for public consumption, and I imagine it’s hard not to feel cheated or angry when the story you see with your name attached to it varies greatly from what actually happened.
Source: Broadcasting & Cable
Huang’s anger is warranted, but it’s also to be expected. The show is on ABC, a network responsible for the blandest of all family sitcoms, “Modern Family,” a show that centers around lukewarm jokes about Sofia Vergara’s accent. It’s true that “Fresh Off The Boat” is the Asian-American experience toned down, unspicy, served with a side of fried rice and an egg roll. It’s the Chinese food you get from the place around the corner, not the stuff your mom makes for you when she comes to visit. It’s authentic enough to recognize larger shared experiences, but not authentic enough to reproduce everything unique to Huang’s life.
The message is truly in the medium, here. Huang’s memoir is peppered with stories of domestic violence, suffered at the hands of his father, a mercurial man with a temper. But a network like ABC isn’t going to show one of their characters kneeling on an asphalt driveway for hours as punishment. If this show had been picked up by Netflix or HBO, things might have turned out differently. What Huang is saying is understandable, but at this point, there’s nothing he can do.
‘Fresh Off The Boat’ Review: Sitcom Translation All Wet, Says Dominic Patten
Premiering February 4 with a special two-episode sneak peek, ABC&rsquos Fresh Off The Boat is a lot more of the same-old stale same-old sitcom stuff. I&rsquove read chef Eddie Huang&rsquos 2013 memoir of the same name and, as my video review above says, something sadly was lost in the translation to a network TV show.
Viewers are thrown back to 1995 as young Eddie&rsquos Taiwanese immigrant parents and their three sons move from Washington DC to the suburbs of Orlando Florida. FOTB is the first network comedy led by Asian-Americans in more than two decades and yet it pretty much feels like every other sitcom out there. The one bright spot is Constance Wu as Eddie&rsquos strict, singing and soaring mom Jessica. Wu owns the screen when she&rsquos on it.
Check out my review of the show, which moves to its regular slot on Feb. 10. Are you going to watch Fresh Off The Boat? Tell us what you think.
Eddie Huang on ‘Fresh Off the Boat’: “I Don’t Watch It, But I’m Proud of It”
Eddie Huang’s first memoir, 2013’s Fresh Off the Boat, was a New York Times best-seller, earned rave reviews from critics and spawned the first Asian-American broadcast show in 20 years, which ABC has renewed for a third season. At the same time, his popular Vice food and travel show Huang’s World (formerly titled Fresh Off the Boat) was helping to turn Huang into one of the top food personalities of the current generation.
Having built so much of his identity on resistance &mdash struggling to reconcile the expectations of his Chinese-Taiwanese heritage with his attraction to hip-hop culture &mdash Huang, who started his career in law and then dabbled in stand-up comedy and pot dealing before finding his calling with the opening of his New York City restaurant, Baohaus , abruptly found himself at a loss.
Constance Wu: 'Fresh Off the Boat' Will Tip Its Hat to 'All-American Girl'
“All of a sudden, I was accepted. I wasn’t fighting as an underdog anymore,” said Huang, speaking last Thursday at Little Tokyo’s Aratani Theatre to promote the May 31 release of his sophomore memoir, Double Cup Love: On the Trail of Family, Food, and Broken Hearts in China. The event, part of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ ALOUD series, was a conversation with Constance Wu (who plays the TV version of his mother on the ABC sitcom), who asked him if the success was unnerving.
“I’m not used to not having a chip on my shoulder,” said Huang, adding that he was nervous about his literary follow-up (“ Outkast was the only group with a good second album”). “This book was about allowing yourself to be loved.”
The pairing of Huang with Wu was perhaps surprising for those who know that the restaurateur has publicly disavowed the show inspired by his childhood, essentially calling it a bowdlerized version of his life. But there was nothing but affirmation at the Aratani between the two, who hail from similar backgrounds (first-generation Taiwanese-Americans who grew up in northern Virginia during the 1980s ) and are friends.
'Off the Cuff' Podcast: Constance Wu Warns, "Will Smith Better Watch Out!"
“You and I both got an education in the network and studio system, which wanted you for your non-compliant voice,” Wu told Huang. “And once they got your life story, the dominant culture tried to mold you.”
For his part, Huang doesn’t begrudge the continuing existence of the sitcom. “It’s a gateway [to Asian-American culture],” he responded to Wu. “I don’t watch it, but I’m proud of what it does.”
Double Cup Love traces Huang’s summer 2013 pilgrimage to China, curious about how his cooking would hold up in the motherland and what his life might have been like had his family never left. The experience left him with a crystallized sense of self-acceptance and purpose: “It’s a privilege to be born in America, and it’s not enough to sit around and feel bad [about it]. Diversity of voice is extremely important, and I want to kick down as many doors as possible.”
Huang is now at work with his editor, Spiegel and Grau’s Chris Jackson (who edited Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me), on his third book, which he says will be fictional this time. “This is probably the end of me talking about my personal story,” he said, calling the new book his imagining of “the next great hip-hop album that the game needs. Ten chapters, every one a song.”
Eddie Huang Unveils His First Feature Film ‘Boogie’
Boogie’s story: The film, which unveiled its first trailer on Tuesday, tells the story of Chinese-Taiwanese American Alfred “Boogie” Chin, a talented basketball player who aspires to someday play for the NBA, reports People.
- Boogie, played by newcomer Taylor Takahashi, is conflicted between chasing his dreams and meeting his parents’ expectations.
- “No one believes in an Asian basketball player,” the character says in the trailer. “It’s a joke in this country. We can cook, clean, count real good but anything else we’re picked last.”
- In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Huang revealed how the 1998 film “Good Will Hunting” inspired him to do a film like “Boogie.”
- “I would like to make a film that changes another kid’s life,” he was quoted as saying. “The way that they were able to humanize domestic violence and those relationships, it opened my eyes because I didn’t know you could talk about stuff like that in movies.”
About the movie: “Boogie,” which is set to be released in theaters on March 5, is written by Huang and produced by Focus Features.
- Late rapper Pop Smoke (Bashar Barakah Jackson), who died in an alleged home invasion in February 2020, plays Boogie’s rival Monk.
- Pamelyn Chee, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Mike Moh, Dave East, Perry Yung and Alexa Mareka complete the cast of Huang’s film.
- Huang’s goal is to tell an “intersectional immigrant story.”
- “This is for all immigrants in America,” he said. Check out the trailer below.
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'Fresh Off the Boat': A Sweet Father-Son Fiction
Are my unabashedly positive feelings about “Fresh Off the Boat” colored by a desperation to see Asian faces on television? How much is due to the fact that it genuinely makes me laugh? Then again am I only laughing so hard because the Huang family reminds me of my own Chinese family? Is it possible that this show really is as good as it seems?
That’s what I’ve been asking myself the last four weeks that ABC ’s “Fresh Off the Boat” has been on the air. As the show continues, and I continue to laugh, I’m no better able to answer those questions today than I was a month ago. Mine is an incredulity born of a lifetime of jaded pop culture consumption where crap TV is the norm and Asian invisibility is the standard. Last night’s Episode 6, “Fajita Man,” was no different.
In it, young Eddie, NBA and hip-hop obsessed, finds a new item through which to channel his combined loves: the impending release of Shaq Fu, a video game released in 1994 starring Shaquille O’N eal. Shaq Fu’s since been panned as one of the worst games ever created. But Eddie has no way of knowing that then. The video is almost like Mortal Kombat, Eddie explains, but it actually stars a bonafide basketball star. Except, at $50 a pop, the game’s way too expensive for him to afford on his own.
When his pining turns to whining, his dad Louis puts him to work at the family’s Western-themed steakhouse, Cattleman’s Ranch. It’s the mid-1990s, and sizzling fajitas are just coming on to the mainstream dining scene. Eddie’s anointed Fajita Boy. “There are no handouts in the Huang family,” Louis tells Eddie, recalling his own Taiwanese father who worked his whole life, and who was similarly hard on him. “The only time your grandfather got anything without working for it was on his birthday,” Eddie’s father tells him. “You know what he got? An egg. One egg.”
When Eddie realizes his first week of work still won’t make him enough money to buy Shaq Fu, he skips out. Louis, ready to come down hard on Eddie, is pulled back by Grandma. “And how was your relationship with your father?” she asks him, reminding Louis that his own father wasn’t just a hard worker, “He was also a hard man.”
The two both end up learning something–Louis to give a little, Eddie to step up and work for what he wants. The storyline is ostensibly about a father instilling in his son an appreciation for hard work. But it’s also about how fathers can learn from their own childhoods. It’s possible to do things differently with the next generation. The arc is sweet, and clearly fictionalized. (Ask any Asian adult for whom Amy Chua’s brand of parenting is not merely an arch comedy routine but the source of lasting scars.) Real life Eddie’s relationship with his father was far rougher.
But I didn’t mind the softened sitcom version. As comedian Jenny Yang said last night on Fresh Off the Show, the unofficial post-show chat hosted by Yang and blogger Phil Yu, the show gave audiences an aspirational moment. The kind of sweetness that, were she a young Asian-American kid watching today, would give her hope about the possibilities of parent-child relationships.
When I first saw the pilot last fall, I went into it tightly wound, bracing for the usual anti-Asian racial ignorance, flat jokes, a TV show starring Chinese characters and ridiculing Chinese people. And when “Fresh Off the Boat” wasn’t that, and then when it made me laugh, and then when the subsequent episodes featured honest and even barbed race humor, I decided to give myself occasional breaks from sussing out the finer layers of it. It was time to just enjoy it all.
Last night was one of those moments of relish. I’d also be lying if I said there wasn’t some catharsis to it as well. I never had the childhood Eddie Huang describes in his memoir, but neither did I have the softer relationship with my parents depicted in last night’s episode.
Amidst the sweetness was the usual funny that “Fresh Off the Boat” is so good at. Taking refuge from the swampy Orlando subtropics in air-conditioned grocery stores, laying still in heat-soaked clothes instead of turning on the A/C. And Jessica Huang, always.
Speaking of catharsis, the best line in the episode probably goes to young Eddie in the opening scenes.
“Aren’t you Japanese?” a white kid asks him in the school cafeteria.
Aaah, the big 1-2: the last year before adolescence wrecks hormones and emotions. It is a usual time for kids to begin reaching beyond their parents’ beliefs and restrictions to truly begin creating the person they want to be. In this sense, Eddie is very typical. As seen in a flashback via Louis’ camcorder — periodically interrupted by the screen-craving grandma — birthday No. 11 only partially fulfilled the birthday boy’s wishes. It’s Star Wars-themed, but in lieu of a Chewbacca cake, Eddie gets a “Star Wars bear” one because the name of the famed Han Solo sidekick “is too Greek.”
Things are set to change for Eddie’s preteen finale. He sits his parents down and reveals he wants to skip the traditional skip birthday noodles, scallion pancakes, and Frankenstein pi༚ta and have a chill mall day with his crew instead. Louis and Jessica are initially stoked to hit a Saturday workday (weirdos). But a conversation with Honey changes Jessica’s mind: Of course Eddie wants a party! And it’s up to the parents to give him one. The pair rallies quickly to surprise Eddie mid-chill… Only it’s not a chill session. Rather, it’s a bona fide party! That he organized! With cake! And Mitch! (Mitch? Mitch!)
Louis and Jessica’s anger stews so much they don’t care about Emery and Evan’s ploy to go bad to garner attention, even after their admission of seeing Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls on opening day. Even the oranges stuffed inside Emery’s shirt (or as Evan terms them, “shirt boobs) and Evan’s demand for a reaction receive only a skeptical glance! Eddie decries that being his real self is inhibited by all of the parental Huangs’ rules. But there will be some easing on the reins. First, Pop Tarts are fair game — and definitely don’t cause blindness, as Jessica reveals her clandestine consumption when the kids are at school. A bigger step is permitting Eddie to spend the night at a friend’s.
So Eddie heads two doors down to Dave’s house, and at first, it’s nothing short of rhapsodic paradise. He’s greeted with a cold 2-liter of Crush soda. Dave and Dave’s mom (Mo Collins) regularly engage in bodily gas battles. Lightsaber fights are allowed indoors. What’s for dinner, you might ask? Cookie Crisp! HEAVEN! Eddie wants to be older, but this throwback to a childhood dream is too good to not revel in.
It takes until midnight for Eddie to realize what he loves and misses about home: a pillowcase without ice cream, a quiet place to sleep, respect toward parents, ones who care so much they’ll barge into Honey and Marvin’s house while the former’s on the phone with a bereaved family member just to spy on their kid. The newly minted 12-year-old walks home to Louis and Jessica wide-awake. She asks Eddie if he wants the birthday noodles. When Louis points out they take six hours to make, she snaps: “It is for my son.”
This puts the noodles being done late, late into the night. Evan and Emery are still awake and are subsequently grounded — after eating the meal Jessica slaved over. The two younger boys did a litany of things to try to incur parental scrutiny and consideration. Seeing a PG-13 movie, Emery’s shirt boobs, unruly hair and untucked shirts, eating Nutella out of the jar, fabricating grades (an A to an A-), throwing Legos everywhere, leaving the refrigerator open, and planning to run away. Alas, the parents had more pressing matters than the superficial delinquency of the two prized children. As Eddie tells Jessica at the first family meal of the episode: “I’m never going to be good enough like Emery and Evan.”
NEXT: Your weekly dose of nostalgia
Now it’s time for the weekly dose of nostalgia in these recaps: s moments, ranked:
9. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls: Evan and Emery should have sneaked into a better movie.
8. Eddie and Mitch’s fajita bonding: This seemed like a new frontier in food back in the s, so it makes plenty of sense the young Huang and the loyal host found common ground over their service and serving scars of season 1 episode 6.
7. Star Wars birthday: No doubt the saga endured 17 years past its release, even when the development of the prequels was more conceptual than reality. The presence of Chewbacca would have helped.
6. Cookie Crisp: An overrated cereal. This was the awkward mascot period, post-Cookie Jarvis and pre-Chip The Wolf.
5. Bowling/Chuck E. Cheese Birthdays: Definitely a hot destination for kids’ special days. Jessica’s dismissal of Chuck as “the rat” is mean, but fair.
4. “Go go, Power Rangers!”: Evan utters the catchphrase before hopping out of bed. Many kids surely did the same.
3. “Slam” by Onyx: It’s the soundtrack to Evan and Emery’s mischief. It’s easy to imagine them hearing Eddie play this loudly and causing his younger brothers to think, “This song sounds like troublemaking.”
2. Mortal Kombat: FATALITY.
1. “So Emotional” by Whitney Houston: Played by Dave’s mom when she storms upstairs. It should be everyone’s go-to jam to play for pre-bed dancing.
Typical TV show, but only in terms of cinematography and direction
Fresh off the Boat is not any typical TV show: well except when describing cinematography and direction of the show. Cinematography and direction can have a very important impact on the delivery of a show or movie it can play a role of how suspenseful the situation is, give a feeling of the environment, and many other impactful roles. Just like any other show, Fresh off the Boat uses the typical shots, for example, shot reverse shot, pan, and zoom, and common environments. It has a mixture of long shots and quick cuts to really show what is going on in the scene.
These details often go unnoticed by the viewer, and to some extent that is the goal of the person filming: to fully immerse one into the experience of watching the show. This goal is surely met. The cinematography matches the environment and setting to where emotions can be displayed from what we see. To display conflict occurring between multiple people, the scene displays a shot reverse shot to emphasize the emotion felt by each person, instead of a single shot where the emotions of two people could be generalized. For the most part, the show has a bright setting, and that is what you would expect from a reality tv show with a family with young kids. So far at least, there have not been any emotionally dark time times and I would imagine that being the case as the show is made for families.
This episode (season 1 episode 2) did not really have any aspects that visually stood out compared to other episodes, but that is probably because I am still very early on in the series. As a side note, I really like this show so far and it has made me laugh multiple times, especially at the parts that are relatable! It’s a good break from the other shows I am watching that are more serious.
CLC reminds me of Kumon lol
'Fresh Off the Boat' Premiere Review: Sometimes Funny, Not Fresh Enough
A mildly funny sitcom with a charming cast, Fresh Off the Boat premieres on Wednesday night with two episodes that nail down its premise. It's 1995, and Louis Huang (The Interview's Randall Park) moves his family to Orlando to open a steak house. Married with three sons, Louis is a hard-working, optimistic charmer. His wife, Jessica (Constance Wu), is more cynical and perhaps a bit smarter than Louis — part of the pleasing tension of the show derives from whether idealism will be defeated by skeptical realism in the couple's lives.
Fresh Off the Boat is based on the writings of show creator Eddie Huang, and the story is told largely through the eyes and actions of its key character: 11-year-old Eddie, played with a skilled array of emotions by Hudson Yang. The show's title suggests what its scripts hammer home unceasingly — that as an Asian-American family trying to live the American Dream, the Huangs are too often seen as The Other — as "foreign" — by the culture around them. In this case, that culture is mostly white and suburban.
Fresh Off the Boat makes a lot of corny jokes about the numbing conformity of suburbia. It renders Jessica a wisecracking variation on the "Tiger Mom" stereotype she's always pushing her children to excel and scorning the lax parenting skills of non-Asian families. If Wu wasn't such a likable performer, Jessica would be pretty unbearable.
Pre-publicity about Fresh Off the Boat has been interesting. Much has been made about how rare it is to have an Asian-American family as lead characters (the last time was two decades ago, with Margaret Cho's ill-fated comedy All-American Girl) it's been frequently said that the success of Fresh will add important diversity to primetime. Indeed it will, but that success will be significant only if the show is some combination of good and widely-watched. Then there's the other kind of publicity the show has received: criticism of it by its creator. Eddie Huang took to New York Magazine to complain that his vision was being compromised, that the sharp ethnic humor of his writing was watered down in this TV adaptation. (Still, he provides the voiceover narration for each episode.)
Huang certainly has a point. Fresh Off the Boat is yet another sitcom in which we are asked to find it automatically funny any time a non-black character (most often, in this case, the young-Eddie character) appropriates the black culture that created hip-hop. The show also trades on tired jokes about a gawky, opportunistic employee played by Paul Scheer, a talented comic who ought to have a better role in primetime.
I suspect Fresh will do well in the ratings for a while — seeing this family on TV will intrigue viewers, and the comedy is broad enough to appeal to a wide audience. But I'm not a fan of the way the series frequently reduces hip-hop to a series of sexist gestures that, for example, puts the 11-year-old character in the position of treating a neighborhood woman as though she's a stripper in a music video.
Then too, there's a predictability to Fresh that undercuts its potential freshness. It repeats tropes we know from about a hundred contemporary sitcoms, good and bad: that the wife is invariably smarter than the husband that kids are more wise than their parents that the older generation (represented on this show by Lucille Soong as "Grandma Huang") isn't wise — it's jadedly sarcastic. Fresh Off the Boat, when it has flashes of energy and well-written jokes, easily transcends ethnic stereotypes, but it's these sitcom stereotypes that are the ones the show needs to defeat if it wants to be both long-running and distinctive.
Fresh Off the Boat premieres Wednesday, Feb. 4 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.
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Suspected Killer Admits To Dozens of Murders After Mutilated Corpses Are Found In His Home
A 72-year-old man was arrested this week following the discovery of human remains under the floorboards of his home. He has confessed to killing as many as 30 people over the last two decades. The suspect, identified only as “Andrés N,” per Mexican privacy laws, was known colloquially as El Chino (The Chinese). He was arrested inside his home in the municipality of Atizapán de Zaragoza on Saturday for the killing of 34-year-old Reyna González, who vanished on May 13. He is believed to have stabbed her and dismembered her body El Pais reported. Police said they found shoes, ID cards, women’s handbags, and clothing in the home along with other belongings linked specifically to Rubicela Gallegos and Flor Nínive Vizcaíno, who disappeared in 2016 and 2019, respectively, according to the outlet. Reports have emerged from various news outlets in Mexico that Andreas N. told authorities he’d eaten some of the remains of his victims and peeled the skin off of González's face. Investigators reportedly also discovered scalps and skulls, and audio recordings of over a dozen murders. The alleged killer also had weapons including machetes and a fretsaw on the property. After his arrest, Andrés N. reportedly admitted to as many as 30 murders, the news agency Efe reported. Prosecutors in the State of Mexico, which includes Mexico City and much of its suburbs, said Wednesday that they have yet to determine the number of possible victims in the case, the Associated Press reported. According to Efe, he is being held at the Tlalnepantla Penitentiary and Social Reintegration Center. The gruesome discovery of González’s hacked-up body on a bloody table came during the search for her in Las Lomas de San Miguel, a neighborhood on the western edge of Mexico City. Investigators jackhammered the floor and took apart a concrete structure on the common-access property, then forensics experts sifted through dirt to find evidence. DNA testing will be needed to determine how many victims Andrés N. may have killed over the years, prosecutors said. Andrés N. rented out rooms in his home to support himself, El Pais reported. Fernando López, his tenant, is a doctor who ran a practice in one of the rooms he was told by authorities to exit the property as the search began. Prior to her brutal death, González ran a small cellphone store near the property where her remains were found. When she vanished on Friday, missing person posters went up around the neighborhood. Neighbors said that she knew Andrés N. — who they reportedly said got along well with locals and had been a local association leader.“The man was always there at her store, always talking to her, always there,” Karla Narváez, a local pharmacy owner, told El Pais.According to a report in El Universal, González had gone to the alleged killer's home before she disappeared. He was going to accompany her on a trip to the center of Mexico City to purchase merchandise for her cell phone sales business. Resident Maura Valle told reporters that Andrés N. never had a life partner but did have a sister who no longer lives in the immediate area. Femicides — defined as the murder of women because of gender — have plagued Mexico for decades. In 2019, approximately 35,000 women were murdered, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The country began collecting data on femicides in 2012. Activists say that femicides have become so pervasive that police no longer do much to prevent, investigate or prosecute the killings.
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Why We Love "Fresh Off The Boat"
The third season for Fresh Off The Boat premieres tomorrow, and I couldn’t be more excited.
When I first saw the trailer to ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat, I immediately set a reminder for the premiere date. A show about a family that looked like mine and talked like mine? I was astonished. Outside of car chases that happened to wend through a bustling Chinatown and flashbacks to a protagonist’s formative years in an exotic ninja village, I had never seen so many Asian people congregated on a TV show at one time.
And indeed that may have been more true than I ever realized, since the one previous show centered around Asian-Americans, Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl, was cancelled 20 years ago.
As I have gotten older, I’ve grown increasingly aware of the dearth of Asian representation in media. When Asians are featured in mainstream media, they are often the butt of a stereotypical joke. Even films that have a primarily Asian cast sometimes bring in a white actor to act as the hero.
Perhaps my thoughts were not so clear at the time, but I remember that any time I saw an Asian-American appear on a screen, it gave me a frisson of glee. That’s a pathetic state of affairs.
Fresh Off the Boat has generated a lot of press and more than a few think-pieces on racial representation and Eddie Huang during its first two seasons. Eddie Huang, whose memoir the series is based on, has perhaps wound up becoming this show’s harshest critic, tweeting that the show “has gotten so far from the truth that I don’t recognize my own life.” But I’m here to tell you that regardless of how far Huang feels the show has deviated from his vision, Fresh Off the Boat is worth watching. Its very conception is a watershed event, saying something to the effect that yes, we Americans have waited a long time for something that reflects us in all our colors. And why yes, to a minority of 17 million and counting, visibility is important. Thanks for asking, ABC.
These half hours are entertaining and laughter filled. Hudson Yang’s Eddie Huang, is an adorable 12 year old who knows how to deliver his lines, but Constance Wu (who plays his mother) is perhaps the breakout star of the show. She is the embodiment of all Asian mothers, conveying the Tiger Mom personality and superstitions to a T. Stereotypes and culture-clashes are played for laughs certainly, but this is a humor that teases and doesn’t needle I was watching it thinking ‘so real’ over and over.
Why Do Asian Stereotypes Work For “Fresh Off The Boat”?
There are a couple pieces on the blog that denounce the use of Chinese actors in stereotypical roles in Hollywood. Why do these stereotypes work in Fresh Off The Boat?
Because even though certain stereotypes are invoked in Fresh Off The Boat, such as Jessica Huang’s frugalness or obsessive fear of the number 4, the series does a good job of portraying the characters as so much more than their stereotypes. We see their hardships, their successes, and see them struggle with obstacles that are relatable to all families, not just Asian ones.
Constance Wu said the following in regards to the Tiger Mom trope: “I'm playing [a character] that has an arc, occasionally elements of Jessica's personality do fall into a Tiger Mom stereotype. But I'm playing them because they are true to her, not because I am exploiting a stereotype.”
Ultimately the writer at ScreenPrism concluded that unless you are part of a culture, you have little authority over what represents its collective identity. As author Eddie Huang said, “Don’t tell me what needs to be offensive to me.”
This series is simply chronicling the experience of one boy who grew up in a certain family. A family that happens to be Asian. I can find no offense in that. There is also an incredible amount of care placed in the details. The grandmother who speaks in Chinese, actually speaks in Chinese. The red bowls the Huang family uses, well believe it or not, are bowls my family used when I was little and my parents were new immigrants. These little touches with all its familiarity, lends this show dimension, makes it all the more precious.
Yet perhaps Fresh Off The Boat’s greatest success so far is showing that as much as these characters are “fresh off the boat,” as much as they are out of place with their stinky tofu and chicken feet, in America they are no more quirky than any of their non-Asian neighbors. Here is simply a family like any other, chasing the American dream.
Fresh Off The Boat's Season 3 premieres 9/8c on Tuesday, October 10th, 2016.
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Crystal Ren is currently studying Applied Physics at Columbia University. In her free time, she's interested in exploring the dynamic and somewhat fraught space Asians inhabit in modern American society. (Mainly by watching TV.)