There was a lot of buzz leading up to the premiere of the ABC sitcom ‘Fresh Off The Boat‘, based on the book by world renowned food personality and VICE contributor Eddie Huang, or atleast inspired by it. It is the first all-Asian sitcom on American television (since Margaret Cho’s All American Girl) featuring a family from Taiwan.
So how does it stack up? Was the buzz worth it? Let’s check it out:
Now, the first rule I have when it comes to any sitcom, breakthrough or not, is that it has to be funny.
Genuinely funny, not just laughing-track funny…
In that sense YES!
Fresh Off The Boat delivers, and all without that annoying laughing track. The humour in the show is based on randomness and awkwardness…
Check out this scene for example:
The show is filled with moments like these, where Eddie’s hip-hop attitude is in the mix with his “trying-to-be-as-american-as-possible” father and “Sneaky-in-your-face” mother. As well as some awkward and random moments with Eddie’s two younger brothers, who are the exact opposite of Eddie. The grandmother also, who only speaks Chinese, steals some of the show’s most hilarious moments.
BTW…On a side note, you may notice that that the father is portrayed by Randall Park, who played Kim Jong Un in the highly controversial ‘The Interview‘.
Anyways…If one had to make a comparison, the closest example of something like this was the show ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ Created and narrated by Chris Rock, just like ‘Fresh Off The Boat’ is created and narrated by Eddie Huang.
The show is set in the 90s, so there are all sorts of references to 90s Pop-Culture nostalgia, including video games, celebrities and novelty products (They even pay respects to their own pre-cursor, Margaret Cho’s ‘All American Girl’ which aired in 1994)
I definitely think that there needs to be more Sitcoms like these, Even though the show isn’t a sweeping representation of the immigrant experience. Even though I am Indian, I am able to relate to so many of the situations from my own childhood experiences…I was into the Hip-Hop Culture as well, and I also had some conflict when bringing Indian Food to school…and that’s just the first few episodes…haha
Yes, the show definitely has some issues to sort out, going into the second season (which I hope it does) but in a world of sitcoms dominated by the now-boring Big Bang Theory and several other similarly-shitty novelty ideas. Fresh Off The Boat is just that, a breath of fresh air in a tired genre…
The show is set to air in NZ in May, but until then you should definitely Check It Out online.
(Editor – ARTbop alternative)
Dhaivat Mehta is a film-maker and performance poet, and a member of the Tauranga Writers…Involved with many aspects of local creativity! As an organizer he was responsible for last year’s National Poetry Day event “Caught In The Act” He also raps and does spoken word under the stage name Archaeo