Fresh Off The Boat: Racism, Nostalgia, and Tiger Moms

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For those of you that aren’t familiar with Eddie Huang, he’s a sassy-mouthed, hippity-hoppity lawyer-turned-chef who owns a restaurant in the East Village. He has a brilliant series of food-based video blogs called “Fresh Off The Boat” on Munchies (VICE’s food-dedicated channel), where he travels to different cities, gets high, and samples the local food culture. Oh yeah, and not to mention, he’s a total homie (as in we’re both from Taiwan and I swear I’ll never use the word ‘homie’ again).

FOX’s Fresh Off The Boat is based off of Eddie’s life before fame and fortune. His immigrant parents moved to Florida to pursue the American dream, only to find it extremely hard to assimilate into the drastically different culture there. While his parents deal with the difficulties of opening up a restaurant, Eddie and his brother face a whole other set of issues at school.

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Attendance was a daily struggle we knew all too well.

It’s really as authentic as it can get. Whether it’s the aggressive tiger mom who thinks everything is too expensive and you’re the biggest failure to ever come out a woman’s vagina, the lactose intolerance, the pants-shitting dread of report card day, or how we really think all white people look the same (shh). Watching it, I was aware of how many of these references or jokes might fly over a non-Asian someone’s head, but all gimmicks aside, the show really is about a struggling family trying to make it work in a world they know very little about. Even if you aren’t Asian, you might find this show quirky and unique enough to give it a shot.

This show is really funny. I don’t know whether it’s just because I find it relatable, or it’s actually truly funny. Watching a chubby little Asian kid say stuff like “Shut up, Evan, you little Chinese narc!” made my eyes pop and my jaw drop. It’s brazen and it’s not afraid to push the (racial) limits, which is pretty refreshing, if I may say so. However, I did feel that the show hasn’t quite found its rhythm yet, and it’s not as snappy and quick-witted as it could be, but it’s off to a great start.

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See? Quirky.

The parents, Louis and Jessica, played by Randall Park and Constance Wu respectively, are obviously the shining stars of the show. The principal’s holding an awareness meeting about drug dealing pedophiles, but Jessica’s main concern is report card day. Louis is neck-deep in his terrible restaurant that he just can’t see how terrible it really is. Amazing. Not saying the kids aren’t precious, because they are totally hilarious in their own way, but watching Louis and Jessica struggle to keep a family and a business going while still maintaining a healthy love for each other is phenomenal. Jessica is by far my favourite, Asian moms have always been the epitome of strength and integrity, no matter how angry or sharp-tongued they can get. It’s great to watch her bring that alive and make us wonder why we have the sudden urge to hide homework under the bed.

No matter how short-lived this show may turn out to be, it’s still a monumental step for the Asian-American community. I mean, just check out the turnout for the premiere at this New York club! We rarely get to see familial situations in movies or TV shows that we can truly relate to. The scene where Louis and Jessica argue with the principal to get Eddie out of suspension, reminded me of the times when my parents had to go to school, armed with the limited amount of English they knew so they could get their kids out of trouble. It really made me appreciate my parents and my heritage just a little more than I already do. To have a show based on what we went through in our childhoods, the challenges we faced, and the growth that become of it is an incredible gift.

Except real Asian parents are like 10x meaner, but they still get an A- for effort.

Except real Asian parents are like 10x meaner, but they still get an A- for effort.

So thank you, Eddie Huang, my Taiwanese homie (oKAY I’M SORRY).

One day she hopes to reach a new state of being which requires no sustenance other than alcohol and pure, unadulterated rage. Imagine the shit she’ll write then, huh?

2 Comments

  • annel.doria@gmail.com'
    February 10, 2015

    Ann

    Here’s a video that humorously yet truthfully captures what Asian American actors face today: http://youtu.be/qOwBGPkY0ZU

    • February 10, 2015

      Rachel C.

      Great video! I’d love to start seeing more Asian characters on mainstream TV! Thanks for sharing and visiting our site 🙂