Like a lot of other Asians in American I was eagerly anticipating the start of the new ABC series Fresh Off The Boat. Now, I know the storyline of Fresh Off The Boat loosely chronicles the life of the awesome chef Eddie Huang, who grew up in D.C. and moved with his family to Orlando, Florida so his parents could run a restaurant. No disrespect to Eddie Huang or the actors, but I felt the first two shows were a bit disappointing considering all the hype. Maybe my expectations were too high. I really WANT to like this show. I really WANT to be able to relate to this show. But to put it plainly, it just didn’t do it for me.
First of all, am I the only one who realizes that this show is named off a racist moniker here? When people say you’re a FOB that’s NOT a compliment. It’s a racist statement referring to the fact that you’re so Asian in your nature that you don’t have a clue what it is to be an American. Second, this show is supposed to be a comedy. Third, it is also supposed to be a show that a lot of us Asian Americans can relate to. Asian actors are often marginalized and so to see a whole show devoted to the life of an Asian American family is exciting in itself. Many of us have parents who were born in another country but we were raised here in the United States. Asian Americans are sorely lacking in today’s entertainment industry and yet as Asian Americans we consciously look for something that we can relate whenever we happen to see Asian Americans in the movies or television or the media. I honestly found very little I could relate to in this show. It played on racist overtones that just weren’t funny. I felt uncomfortable. I couldn’t relate.
The first two episodes of the show didn’t fulfill my definition of comedy. When I watched the show, I didn’t get a lot of laughs. I’ll admit I got a few laughs. “Does a yellow man like dumplings? *Dead silence* Oh sorry, I put you in an awkward spot.” But I didn’t laugh a lot. When I laugh at a show, I want to laugh so hard my stomach hurts. I also found some parts to be annoying. I get that Tiger Moms exist. I was raised by one. But what I don’t get is how Eddie’s Mom’s helicopter parenting and OCD nature was supposed to be funny at all. I heard Eddie’s Mom’s fake bad accent and cringed. I saw that the writers of this series played the Asian stereotypes to the hilt, the studying like there’s no tomorrow, the Mom being used to arguing in Asian supermarkets, the Chinese food stinking up the cafeteria. These stereotypes however, were over exaggerated in the show. They were also vaguely painful reminders that didn’t strike me as humorous. I mean, I don’t want to be reminded of the time I got made fun of in elementary school when my Mom sent me to school with a with a lunch of cha siu bao and chow mein. This lack of humor and over exaggeration of racial stereotypes was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. I saw things like the stickers on Emery and Evan’s report cards in lieu of letter grades and didn’t find it funny at all. It just wasn’t realistic and had no comedic value whatsoever. And can someone please tell my why they had the lone black kid called Eddie a chink?!
These first two episodes of Fresh Off The Boat were a bit disappointing to me. That being said, I’m willing to give it another shot. I don’t have an endless arsenal of tolerance here though. They need to turn down the Asian stereotypes a little, turn up the comedy, and put in more fresh content that actual Asians Americans can relate to. I really want to like Fresh Off The Boat so I will keep watching to see how it develops. I agree that it is a historical event to have the first Asian American show since Margaret Cho’s All American Girl. To the writers of Fresh Off The Boat, if you make a large group of the population of America just feel uncomfortable, you won’t get to make another season, even if this is based on Eddie Huang’s real life. I’m willing to concede that this show has some promise. Make some tweaks and remember, you have an Asian American audience whose response to your show is crucial to it’s success.
Dr. Jacqueline Cheung, also known as Jax, grew up in Sacramento, California. She is a Christian Wife, Proud Mom, Major Foodie, Sacramento Native, Elk Grove Resident, Feminist, Adoption Advocate, Blogger, Freelance Writer, and Cat Lover. Jax is the owner of the award winning Jax Chronicles blog & adoption ministry. She also works as a Freelance Writer and writes for Sacramento4Kids, the Elk Grove Laguna News, and many other publications. Jax is married to Dr. Kenneth Cheung (Kenny). Jax and Kenny live in Elk Grove, California and have 2 daughters named Roxy and Carissa, and 3 cats named Mochi, Miso, and Mango. You can follow her journey on Instagram @jaxchronicles, her Jax Chronicles Facebook page , or her Jax Chronicles blog.