ABC’s new sitcom, “Fresh Off the Boat”

“Fresh Off the Boat” is a new sitcom based on chef Eddie Huang’s best selling memoir under the same name. The fresh, original show takes a humorous look at the lives of immigrants in America; the show is among the first to do such a thing. “Fresh Off the Boat” is also the first sitcom in two decades  to star an Asian-American family. The show is enjoyable for the whole family. The characters are relatable to almost everyone; it showcases the American dream as well as the changes that occurs in the lives of immigrants and people in general.

The sitcom is much like Huang’s memoir except ABC did tone it down for the audience. The show merely presents Huang’s mother as critical of Huang’s taste in shirts. In the memoir, Huang says that it was more than criticizing shirts. It was about curbing his teenage rebellion. Huang says that rap was a central part of his survival, something that is not shown in the show just yet. Huang also tells journalists that he knows why ABC toned down his parents for the sitcom. “You come out with a strong Asian character on network television, people may not understand, [ . . . ] And I think the show is strategic and smart in how it’s easing the viewer into that.”

The first episode of “Fresh Off the Boat” aired on February fourth, 2015. The show is starring a Taiwanese-Chinese-American family as they live their lives in an 1990’s era Orlando, Florida. Randall Park, the man who portrayed Kim Jong-Un in Seth Rogen’s The Dictator, plays the role as Louis Huang, the father of Eddie Huang, who pursues his dream to be an owner of a western styled restaurant called Cattleman’s Ranch Steakhouse and welcomes everything that is considered American. He runs into the trouble of not receiving enough customers to make profit, which in turn makes it a struggle to keep his dream afloat.

Constance Wu portrays Eddie’s mother, Jessica Huang who follows through with Louis in moving to Orlando. She is much like any mother, however, she is critical about her husband’s business, impatient about its success, and is trying to fit in in 90’s America. Jessica Huang may not understand Eddie’s taste in rap, but she cares deeply for her child and she shows it throughout the series.

Eddie Huang is portrayed by a young actor named Hudson Yang, who acts the role of Eddie as a eleven year old, Hip-Hop loving know it all who is having trouble with moving to Orlando. Eddie shows his emotions about Orlando in the show’s pilot episode and makes it clear that he wishes to move back to Washington D.C.  School plays a role in his views of Orlando. Being the new kid can always be quite difficult because of making new friends. The show displays a child that many other kids can relate to. In the pilot episode of the first season,  Eddie speaks about what he likes and dislikes about these portrayals above.

Huang also commented that ABC was trying to “reverse a yellow face” meaning that ABC was trying to attempt to make an Asian American family into another traditional white TV family. Huang narrated part of the pilot episode.

The sitcom openly displays how hard it is to make a new life in a foreign area, and how it is especially hard for immigrants as they are assimilated into the melting pot we call America. The show can be quite critical, however “Fresh Off the Boat” uses it’s ingenious comedy to hide some of the more harsh aspects.

The show also brings the values and aspects that any family may share, regardless of race, age, gender, etc. It is fun for the whole family as you watch Eddie Huang in his rebellious teenage years, and how his parents have to cope with his changes as well as adapting to the environment in Orlando Florida during the 1990’s. “Fresh Off the Boat” has finished it’s eighth episode with much success; hopefully it will continue to do well.

“Fresh Off the Boat”  is a type of sitcom that has not been seen in years. It is about the struggle that many Americans may feel, and what it is like to be immersed in a completely different culture. It is the perfect blend of serious, traditional and comedy aspects. “Fresh Off the Boat” has already experienced great success, and more is sure to come.

-Michael Eckles

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