Thursday, February 5, 2015

Fresh off the boat

Restaurateur, chef and food personality Eddie Huang's new sitcom, Fresh Off the Boat, based on his brash and unapologetically hip memoir of the same name, premiered last night on ABC.

Did you catch it? 

Unfortunately the rabbit ears on my TV don't work very well so I missed it. But the trailer is intriguing. Partly because it's the first show in 20 years (!!) to feature an Asian American family on network television (All-American Girl, starring Margaret Cho, aired in 1994 and lasted only one season) and partly because the show's characters (especially Eddie's parents) seem, at best, hilarious, and at worst, like caricatures. 

Fresh Off the Boat is a really big deal. Huang saw it as an opportunity to portray the Asian-immigrant experience without compromise and signed with ABC in an effort to alter mass perceptions about race. He's been outspoken in his criticism about the development process. "What did I expect?" he says in a New York Times interview. "I expected I could change things."

As an Asian American and a child of immigrants, I say HOORAY and IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME for shows like Fresh Off the Boat to make its way to primetime again. Yeah some may say it's a watered-down, saccharine version of the Asian immigrant experience blah blah blah.

Big picture: it's always a good thing when a TV show prompts us to share our opinions on race and culture. 

Watching Fresh Off the Boat with 999 Asian Americans. (Vulture)
Huang's World. (Munchies/Vice TV)