Fresh Off the Boat aired on February 4th, 2014, 8:30pm on the ABC channel. There was an event at the Circle club in Manhattan for a viewing party hosted by the main actor’s dad, Jeff Yang. The club can only hold 1,000 people but over 1,400 RSVP’d. It was cold and I didn’t feel like waiting in line, buy expensive drinks and then standing up to watch the show while another 999 people along with the child actor and his dad watched. I rather watch it in the comfort of my own home. To my surprise, a few of my friends went to the event and Eddie Huang, the author of the memoir the series was based on, and Randall Park, he played the dad, attended the event and did a Q&A afterward. Damn, I should’ve gone. Anyway, here’s my review/opinion about the first two episodes.
I had my fingers crossed to have this series not suck because this is a historic win for all Asian Americans. We never really had a TV series like this since the 90s and I don’t even remember that show with Margaret Cho. So far, I am a fan of Eddie Huang, a self made celebrity chef with an awesome ‘hood’ personality after watching his Vice Youtube show of the same name, and I know a show based on his life won’t disappoint. And it didn’t.
The first episode was actually funny and refreshing. I like the time setting of the series. I grew up in the 90’s NYC and the rap game was big back then, even though I was not into the hip-hop/rap scene, I’m more into rock, but I was familiar with it. Next up, the characters: Eddie, his dad, mom, brothers and grandma. They all had good personality and charm. Eddie was the star so he had the most screen time and he used it pretty well to capture the real Eddie’s personality and essence. He had done a great job. Randal Park did a great job portraying a stereotypical Asian passive dad, while Constance Wu did a great job portraying a dominant mom who’s almost like the tiger mom. The ones that won me over were the brothers who were the polar opposite of Eddie, and they were all straight edge, nerdy and hilarious. The grandma who had minimal lines did such an awesome assist in holding Eddie’s boom box during his epic entrance.
The storyline of the episode was Eddies’ dad moving the whole family from Washington DC to Florida to open up a restaurant. We see his dad trying to win over the white people to get more business going, while Eddie and the rest of the family try to fit in. It’s a regular storyline but with the Asian American character it was refreshing and fun to watch because I can relate to it. The only downside I would say, which is my own personal preference, is that they used the term “white people” a little too much. I mean spewing it here and there, would’ve been ok, but it was a bit much. Anyway, the episode made an impact on taking on the word “chink” and the fight between Eddie and a classmate that ensued afterward. Spoiler alert. The parents actually stood up for Eddie telling him to always fight for what is right, and he didn’t get suspended. I got into a fight in middle school because a kid tried to pick on me so I defended myself. I got suspended. I copped a few feels when Eddie’s parents actually sided with him, opposed to my own parent who did not.
The second episode is my favorite. Since the characters are already established, they can focus more on the story line. First there was the whole subject about the U.S. education that was a joke to a lot of foreigners. It’s true, I remember at kindergarten I was learning to add and subtract already, while I heard kids here were taking a nap and eating cookies. So when the mom finds out that his son got straight A’s, it’s because she know her child isn’t capable of, she started complaining to the school president. I lol’ed. Then the mom thought of doing an after school program, since their community didn’t provide any, I lmao’ed more. Yeah, us Asians had it hard since our parents wanted us to excel in our education. I’m Filipino, so I didn’t have to do those afterschool crap. I played with my N64 straight after school. Anyway, the biggest part of the story I liked was that the episode covered on how much Asians didn’t really say stuff like ‘I love you’ like all the TV families out there. So there were some jokes on something is fishy when someone says those forbidden words. The episode concluded that even though our parents didn’t say it, they showed it through their actions. I reflected on my life afterwards, and yes, my parent did show it. This episode is real. It’s true. That’s why I like it and I feel like we hit a home run with this one.
All in all, this new series was hilarious and relatable to most Asian Americans. Let’s hope this can keep going and opens up more opportunities for Asians being in our TV sets and in other media overall.