ABC has been on the forefront of creating shows that display the true diversity of families. Like the award winning Modern Family, and the recent Black-ish, they (try to) accurately depict a more contemporary family dynamic and, secondarily of course, (attempt to) educate us about different cultures. Fresh Off the Boat is first and foremost a sitcom, but it’s working on becoming something more.
The story follows the “real” life of Eddie Huang and his Asian-American family who just moved from Washington D.C. to Florida in hopes of creating a rustic, American themed restaurant. It shows the difference between moving from an area that has an established neighborhood and community for a your specific culture, to migrating to one that has been completely white-washed. Loosely based on Eddie Huang’s childhood experiences, Fresh Off the Boat shows us the all too familiar culture shock when two opposing forces collide.
Eddie (Hudson Yang) is not your typical Asian-American boy, since his interests lean towards the mainstream American. His father, Louis (Randall Park), who you may recognize from as Kim Jong Un in The Interview, just opened a western-style restaurant in Florida that is not doing too well. Their mother, Jessica (Constance Wu), is the head of the household, and very reluctant to compromise her own culture by adopting this new one she is living in.
As I mentioned before, this show is a sitcom, and as such is prone to the pitfalls of all sitcoms based on culture shock: stereotyping. There are some of these types of jokes, where they play on already overplayed gags, but you can forgive them because at it’s core, it is genuine and still relevant to how pervasive American culture is when swallowing others whole. Aside from humorous references and comparisons, this show is kept grounded by the talented cast of Wu, Park and little Yang. They tackle serious issues while also remaining light-hearted and humorous. In the first episode, they brought up the use of a derogatory word, and ended up handling it beautifully.
Final Thoughts: Fresh Off the Boat might not be the final product Eddie Huang originally intended it to be, but brushing past the stereotypical hi-jinks, there is a core of authenticity and humor that will hopefully show the cultural depth and representation that the Asian community is lacking. Good writing can easily be become great with enough rejection of comedic conventions and the continued support of the strong cast; It can easily reach the heights of Modern Family-hood.
RATING: ★★★★★★★(7/10 stars)