This new ABC series isn't your typical TV sitcom. There's a bit of controversy around it, thanks to the guy the story is based on. Eddie Huang made waves when he decided to basically tear apart the network and everyone behind turning his book into a TV show. He even went so far as to say he didn't like the fact that they hired a non-Asian woman to run the series.
Let's just say it was one intense panel at the Television Critics Association tour. At one point, I wondered if Huang and a journalist were going to come to blows. Between the essay and that very intense panel, there was a lot of talk about race and diversity and drama, and frankly, I got fed up. That's when I decided to ignore everything else and just watch it. When I did, I discovered a funny, sweet series.
At the TCA panel, the cast and creators of the show were met with a question that left the whole room reeling.
"I love the Asian culture. And I was just talking about the chopsticks, and I just love all that. Will I get to see that, or will it be more Americanized?"
Yep, they were actually asked if chopsticks would be in the show. It was a moment I won't forget for a while. While you might expect that some tired, overdone drawing of an Asian would have chopsticks, this show isn't about playing up the culture. It has a lot more depth than that.
After watching the first three episodes of the series, it didn't take long for me to forget that this was supposed to be an Asian show. Of course, there were elements that were specific to the Asian experience, but I just started to see it as a show about a really funny family struggling to find their way in a world they don't recognize.
For me, it boiled down to each of the characters. If I'm watching a comedy, I want to laugh, and Fresh Off the Boat made me laugh. It doesn't get much simpler than that.
The dad on the show is kind of a dork. It's a characterization we've seen before, but who doesn't giggle at a dad driving a car while singing along to the latest pop song on the radio? I don't care what color your skin is or where you were born; chances are, one of your parents did that to you when you were a kid. Watching Eddie squirm as he's forced to listen to his family sing a song he finds embarrassing is hilarious.
The message that the show gets across is that you don't have to be the same to find a way to fit in, and really, it's applicable to anyone.
In the series, we see the world through Eddie's eyes as he struggles to find his place in a new city. The thing about Eddie is that he's going through something that a lot of kids do: being different. Whether you looked different, listened to different music or wore the "wrong" clothes, all of us can relate to what Eddie is going through. The more I watched, the more I dug how he didn't force himself to conform to the other kids in his school and yet still managed to find friends.
Eddie may be the cool kid in the family, but his little brothers are adorable and steal a few scenes of their own. While Eddie has to fight to be understood in his new school, his little brothers are the kinds of kids who seem to fit in no matter where they go. They instantly make friends and even have a few young ladies interested in them. It's hard to know which is more fun, seeing the brothers become so popular or seeing Eddie's reactions to their popularity.
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