“Fresh Off the Boat” adds the Asian voice to television

March 2, 2015
In this image released by ABC, Constance Wu, from left, Forrest Wheeler, Hudson Yang and Ian Chen  appear in a scene from the new comedy series "Fresh Off the Boat," previewing Wednesday with episodes at 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. EST. (AP Photo/ABC, Jordin Althaus)

In this image released by ABC, Constance Wu, from left, Forrest Wheeler, Hudson Yang and Ian Chen appear in a scene from the new comedy series “Fresh Off the Boat,” previewing Wednesday with episodes at 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. EST. (AP Photo/ABC, Jordin Althaus)

As a first generation Asian American, I was ecstatic when New York restaurateur and media personality Eddie Huang announced that he would be turning his childhood story into a television show with ABC.

After watching the first five episodes of “Fresh Off the Boat,” I hold mixed feelings about the show.

Critically speaking, the show is nothing special, as it uses hackneyed racial jokes as its main source of humor.

Nonetheless, the concept behind the show is indeed original. It stands out as the only major network television show revolving around an Asian family. We are introduced to a young Eddie Huang (Hudson Yang) and his family after their move from D.C. to Orlando in the mid 90’s. Whereas D.C. is home to Chinatown, Orlando is dominated by white society; Eddie is the only Asian kid at his school.

Asian Americans will find themselves and their families fitting into the roles portrayed by Huang’s family.

Louis Huang, Eddie’s father, is portrayed by Randall Park, who is fresh off his role as Kim Jong-un in “The Interview.” He brings the same heavy Asian accent, but this time, he is a father who wants the best for his family. However, his steakhouse restaurant is not doing as well as he expected, causing worries for the family.

Jessica Huang (Constance Wu) is Eddie’s mother, and she is different from her husband. She is devoid of the leniency that Louis holds, and does not enjoy Orlando as much as Louis does. Louis embraces American culture, but Jessica is at times apprehensive. We see flashes of the “tiger mom” personality that Asian mothers seem to be associated with.

The show is an effort by Huang to portray the Asian American story, something that 20 million others and I can identify with. Though I am technically “American,” it feels like there’s something that holds me back from truly being a part of the American society. “Fresh Off the Boat” does its best to portray that dilemma.

“Fresh Off the Boat” is a must-watch for anybody, not because it’s a particularly great show, but because it is a new experience. It lets us see the American story through the eyes of an Asian American family, a perspective that serves as a perfect foil to shows like “Modern Family.”

 

st0302-03-1 Min Jae Kang
West Ranch High School 11h Grade

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