Tuesday, February 25, 2020

"Fresh Off the Boat" - The End of an Era

"Fresh Off the Boat" was a show that was both extremely relevant and not at all relevant to me.  Eddie Huang, on whom the original concept is based, even though the family depicted is much more TV sitcom happy than Huang's, is about the same age as my brother.  I had not done the math on this previously, but watching this depiction of a teenager in the 1990's I had a sudden realization that my brother own that exact shirt in one of the episodes.  (Kudos to the costume designer for that level of specificity.)  Similarly my brother was a kid who at times grew quickly out, and up, who showed an interest in food, and who looked a little different from some of his classmates.

Of course, my parents are not immigrants, we are third generation Chinese, and more generations than you can count Hawaiian, along with some other European stuff thrown in.  My brother did not become a chef, and my brother was the youngest and not the oldest, and we didn't move out of DC, in fact, unlike my sister and I, my brother didn't even go to Maryland for middle school. 

But as someone old enough to remember "All American Girl" it was exciting to see Asian Americans on TV as Asian Americans.  I remember during the "All Things Considered" interview with Margaret Cho, they put "Fresh Off the Boat", "Crazy Rich Asians", and "Always Be My Maybe" up on screen and asked Cho about this Asian American comedy moment.  And I thought to myself, yay, but like, you could still fit the full size posters on the screen.  You didn't even need a second row.  (Yes, we could add "To All the Boys" and "PS I Love You". I want to run out of fingers.) 

All of this is to say, I am thrilled this show existed.  I hope we get more iterations.  I hope that nor just the folks in this show get more jobs, but also it just becomes normal to see various iterations of Asian Americans. 

But back to the show.  I loved the show so much, but felt the changeover in the years started to show.  It became clear that it was turning into the kind of sitcom that barely remembered things they had set up for the characters.  (Remember Marvin's older daughter?  It's okay, the show clearly doesn't.)  Jessica held approximately seventeen different jobs throughout the show.  And it took a while for them to figure out a personality for Emery that wasn't neither Evan nor Eddie. 

But, those last two episodes, where we flashed forward and saw each kid having gotten a dream and the parents and grandma still happy and healthy, it was great. 

So, I wish all the folks involved in the show the best in their future endeavors.