A Tribute To An American Family: Fresh Off The Boat
On Friday, ABC aired the final episodes of Fresh Off The Boat, the first situation comedy to feature an Asian American family in two decades. I wanted to take a look back at this show that ran for six seasons.
Fresh Off The Boat was loosely based on the autobiography of chef and food personality Eddie Huang and his exploits of living in a Taiwanese American family in the middle of a mostly Caucasian neighborhood in Orlando, Florida. While I am not Taiwanese American (I am Filipino American), I related with the show quite a bit as the son of immigrants living in a mostly white neighborhood. As somebody who grew up looking for images of people who looked like myself, this show was important to me so that future generations would not have that problem.
Was the show perfect? No. But what show is? Sitcoms are windows into a specific situation that don't necessarily fully represent everybody. That would be impossible. The Huangs could never represent every Asian American family. That said, through it all, the Huang family were the model of an American family. Father Louis (Randall Park) ran a cowboy themed steakhouse. Mother Jessica (Constance Wu) writes cheesy murder mysteries. And the three boys each have distinct personalities. Eddie (Hudson Yang) is the slacker, Emery (Forrest Wheeler) is the lover and Evan (Ian Chen) is the super genius. And then there is sassy wheelchair bound grandmother Jenny (played by the legendary Lucille Soong). I loved this family and welcomed them in every week.
Fresh Off The Boat showed that an Asian American family could be as funny as any other sitcom family. Yet, at the same time, it could highlight distinctly Asian issues. While the show tackled both serious issues such as immigration and becoming a citizen, it also looked at more humorous issues such as bringing that strange lunch to school and the "Asian flush" (that red face and neck when drinking alcohol). What would be the annual Halloween or Thanksgiving episode for most sitcoms, the show had the annual Chinese New Year episode.
I wonder what will come next. I really hope that it won't be another 20 years before the next Asian American family sitcom will air. For now, I say good-bye to the Huangs and Fresh Off The Boat. It's been a great six years.