Fresh Off the Boat
Perfection. This is all I need to say but to go in depth is what today’s world requires. Eddie Huang author and restaurateur has a same titled book that this show is based off of. The last time American television has had an Asian-American family as the focus was Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl. Since then it’s been white family sitcom after white family sitcom for the past 20 years; with the occasional black and Hispanic show thrown into the mix for a season or two. While they were decent if not well written shows, it’s still hard for a good majority of the country to relate to them. Yes, we could laugh at Seinfeld or Friends or Happy Days or even 8 Simple Rules but the truth of the matter is that none of these families were easily relatable to Asian-Americans; we could appreciate good television but we just couldn’t see ourselves in the media. Shows of any cultural background have oft been written off by our white counterparts with words along the lines of, “Oh, I’m not [insert race] so I can’t understand that humor.” Well, now you know how the rest of America feels. Minorities can often laugh at the stereotypes that the media has of them, but eventually enough is enough. This is where Fresh Off the Boat succeeds in every possible way. While Eddie and his family are Taiwanese and I am a Filipino, the basic similarities that our cultures have experienced on a basic level make it a show I can 100% find something similar in. His own family moving from D.C. to Orlando is something I can easily relate to. The struggles of adapting to a new life were something that I could pinpoint certain aspects that match up with the episodes released so far. While the Asian population in Sacramento made it much easier to adapt culturally, there were still some parts that had me nodding along with other jokes presented. The jokes presented still had me agreeing in that a lot of my white friends acted in similar mannerisms to Eddie’s new neighbors/classmates. The struggle for acceptance from Eddie’s classmates, to the differing rates of acceptance of his siblings, to his parents adapting to a new environment, young Eddie has seen every form of change possible at such a young age. There are so many small nuances that you just get if you’ve been through it yourself. You can try explaining it to your other friends but they just won’t get. But this show isn’t for them; it’s for us and our children and other impressionable minds to see ourselves in a medium we’ve rarely seen ourselves accurately represented. Only then may the majority finally understand what the minority has felt for the past decades of mainstream media. Only then may they see us past the drug dealers, gangsters, thugs, comic relief, nerds, and any other stereotype. Only then can we start seeing ourselves as varied as our white colleagues have had the pleasure their whole lives seeing themselves as.