Redefining America: New ABC show “Fresh off the Boat”
By Tabia Robinson
February 17, 2015
ABC’s new comedy “Fresh Off the Boat,” tells the story of a predominantly Asian-American family trying to live the American Dream. Set in 1995, the Huang family has just moved from Chinatown in Washington, D.C. to your typical all-American suburb in Orlando, FL.
Hudson Yang plays Eddie Huang, an 11-year-old outspoken hip-hop lover, who tries to fit in with the other students at Abraham Lincoln Middle School. He struggles in the beginning to make friends and prove to his peers that he is just like them despite the fact that he’s Asian. Eddie’s father, Louis Huang (Randall Park), owns Cattleman’s Ranch, a restaurant that is struggling to get customers. According to Eddie, his father “loves America.” Louis tries very hard to make his restaurant successful, but often times he fails. His wife, Jessica Huang (Constance Wu), doesn’t seem too happy about leaving her life in Washington, D.C. to support her husband’s failing dreams.
Eddie’s younger brothers Emery Huang (Forrest Wheeler) and Evan Huang (Ian Chen) have a better time in Florida than Eddie does. They meet friends, get invited to parties and get interest from girls.
The pilot episode was like any other pilot. Viewers were introduced to the Huang family and their move from stable to uncomfortable. Eddie doesn’t know what to think about the move, but everyone else takes it in stride. When they arrive, the three boys play in the front yard while Jessica and Louis unpack the van.
Grandma Huang (Lucille Soong), Louis’ mom, also moves into the house with them. To viewers this is not out of the ordinary because it’s known that Asian families typically revere their elders. Eddie, Emery and Evan start school the next day, a Wednesday which according to Eddie’s teacher was “unusual.” Eddie’s mom sends him to school with a homemade lunch of noodles which poses a problem when he opens the container at lunch and the other students make fun of him saying he’s eating worms.
To fit in, Eddie tells his mother he wants to eat “white people lunch:” the famous Lunchables. Louis, realizing that he’s not getting any business, decides that he should shoot a commercial for his restaurant. The Huang family really struggles to achieve their goals in this episode, but in the end the patriarch told his wife and children that they moved “to make his family stronger.”
An Asian-American family hasn’t been shown on television since 1995. Subsequent episodes show that their family is no different than any others. Jessica and Louis both want the best for their children socially and academically. There is always husband and wife tension because Jessica wants to tell Louis how to run his business. There is competition within the family with Jessica’s sister and brother-in-law. Eddie is peer pressured into buying the newest sneakers or else he won’t fit in and there is neighborhood gossip. Mostly every American family regardless of race has dealt with those situations and “Fresh Off the Boat” tries to put behind everyone’s preconceived notions about what the Asian-American family is about.
“Fresh Off the Boat” is a family show that will leave you laughing and can be viewed on ABC, Tuesday nights at 8 p.m.