Sep 14, 2016

[TV] Fresh Off the Boat: Season 1

Over the weekend I was looking for a sitcom to help pass the time and ended up watching the pilot episode of Fresh Off the Boat over on iFlix. The pilot actually wasn't all that impressive but by the second episode I was hooked. And I had to make sure that I got Tobie to watch it as well.

Sure, I bet that a lot of folks find shows like this problematic since the humor can be accused of being highly racist and all that fun stuff. Plus the usual fun of minority actors from different countries being asked to portray Taiwanese immigrants yet the show has them embracing being Chinese, which is still a different thing when you look at it closely.

But when you get past thinking like and and just embrace the humor, there's a lot of fun to be had. The show relies a lot on the strength of its characters and we have quite the peculiar crew in this one. But given they're all in one family, in the end it all works out for the best and makes for some rather compelling stories.

Synopsis: Fresh Off the Boat is a comedy created by Nahnatchka Khan, who was also behind the show Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. The story is loosely based on Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir by Eddie Huang.

The first season is told largely from the perspective of Eddie Huang (he narrates the season). The show is set in 1995 and Eddie's (Hudson Yang) father Louis (Randall Park) has opened a cowboy-themed steak restaurant in Orlando, Florida, thus forcing the family to migrate from DC. The family consists of his mother Jessica (Constance Wu), brothers Emery (Forrest Wheeler) and Evan (Ian Chen), and grandmother Jenny (Lucille Soong). The show explores a lot of stereotypes about Asian families and the same sort of culture that inspired books like Tiger Mom and the like.

What I Liked: Each character in this program seems a little crazy on their own and they seem all the more peculiar when you gather them all together as a family. There are so many nuances to the relationships and that's what makes the show feel all the more real and the family so family. On some level, the inherent message of shows like this is that all families can seem pretty crazy when we look at things close enough. But yes, there are quite a number of Asian stereotypes at play here that make for some great comedic moments.

Naturally we especially love Constance Wu's performance as the mother. She's the perfect memorable character that you'd want to have in your tabletop role-playing game given she's so quirky yet so memorable. And while she can seem a little scary and quite intense during her scenes, you can also appreciate that she's just doing her best to be a good mother.

What Could Have Been Better: The whole narrative device of Eddie as the narrator was an odd touch to things. Sure, you see it a lot when it comes to stories that were based on books - the words have to go somewhere, right? But with so much off the story taking place outside of Eddie's view, then it doesn't always make sense. And the narration bits weren't all that compelling compared to what was actually taking place in the episodes themselves.

Louis is an odd character and at first it's not too clear what they wanted to do with him. He fleshes out a bit more towards the end of the season, but not by much.

TL;DR: Fresh Off the Boat is a very witty, well-written show that has a lot of great moments in it. It has the usual rough spots of any new show but it starts to grow into its own as things progress. So the first season gets a good 4 supposedly "strange" meals that Jessica prepares for Eddie's lunch out of a possible 5.

1 comment:

  1. The real Eddie Huang has a show in Viceland (some American cable channel LOL) -- called Huang's World -- where he travels and try local dishes, sometimes with his family.

    LOL, the mom, I think is funnier in real life hahaha