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Fresh off the Boat


NBooth
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So ABC's Selfie looks pretty dire, for reasons I touched on in the A&F thread. The trailer for ABC's Fresh off the Boat, on the other hand, had me laughing out loud:

 

 

It's like a 90s-set, Asian Everybody Hates Chris, based on the memoir by Eddie Huang. If anything could get me to watch real tv--as opposed to, say, HBO or Netflix--this could. I plan on checking it out, anyway.

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This trailer had more misses than hits as far as the jokes are concerned, but have we ever had a major American TV show to deal with the Asian experience in American before? That's significant.
 

If anything could get me to watch real tv--as opposed to, say, HBO or Netflix--this could.

I know I'm a broken record, but... Hannibal.

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  • 6 months later...

 

but have we ever had a major American TV show to deal with the Asian experience in American before? That's significant.

 

Margaret Cho's All-American Girl is the only on I can think of, and that was 20 years ago. Wow, that makes me feel old.

 

 

And on that note, here's LARB on All-American Girl:

 

I say Asia, rather than South Korea, because Margaret and her family were Korean in name — and occasionally mangled Korean — only. Network logic meant that the only way the Kims could be legible to a white audience was to make them generically Asian, as opposed to specifically Korean. Television’s first Asian-American family became a ready canvas for all kinds of gibberish Orientalism: Grandma Kim’s (Amy Hill) pet cricket, the family’s favorite restaurant, the “Happy Lucky Golden Dragon,” and lines like “May you have the joy that comes from serving your husband” and “[We are] bound together by the vine of community” in the dialogue. Watching the show 20 years later, you can’t help but hear the echoes of a gong shuddering in the background.
 
There were setups that hinted at real possibility, at acknowledging the fact that everyone else in the family dealt with particularly American experiences — as when their dad Benny (Clyde Kusatsu) struggled with the family business, a bookstore, or when Grandma Kim stapled herself to the chair to flip between Oprah and her Korean soaps. But the show misunderstood the ways in which the immigrant experience — refashioning ingredients in the kitchen, tangling with bureaucracy, requiring your child as interpreters — is also an inherently American one.
 
 Fresh off the Boat gets a mention, too:
 
Television is circling back (as Denny Duffy said, “Technology is cyclical”): ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat based off of Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same title, premieres midseason, making it a solid twenty-and-a-half years since Margaret Cho’s outing. The show centers on a Taiwanese immigrant family that moves down to Orlando, Florida to run Cattleman’s Ranch Steakhouse. In an ironic twist, Jeff Yang, the critic who savaged All-American Girl has big stakes in the show’s success: his son, Hudson plays the part of little Eddie.
 
Yang is already cheerleading the show from his column in The Wall Street Journal, “Tao Jones,” and promises that it will be “nothing you will have ever seen before on television.” Margaret Cho has thrown her support behind it too, offering Huang advice. Huang in turn has called her the “patron saint of yellow power.” In a conversation with him, Cho said, “People like you guys actually make me feel like, ‘Oh I didn’t make a mistake. That I did something good.’” It was a small, but significant step, because at least Fresh Off the Boat will not have to answer the question that so dogged All-American Girl: what does it feel like to be the first?
Edited by NBooth
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  • 2 months later...

Eddie Huang wrote a long essay about getting the show made.

 

Meanwhile, apparently TV critics are asking some, um, interesting questions:

 

Almost before the panel was seated, hands had sprung up. And the first questionput to them was a doozy: “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?”
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One small step towards the end of this song:

 

"Nobody's Asian in the Movies"

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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One small step towards the end of this song:

 

"Nobody's Asian in the Movies"

 

To quote the Huang essay, which I've just read: "YOU GOT ASIANS ON TV!"

 

[seriously, though, it's a good essay]

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  • 2 weeks later...

NPR: A Skilled Cast Perks Up The Sweet And Funny 'Fresh Off The Boat'

 

It's certainly not a great show; Eddie Huang is right that they're taking a pretty safe, not very provocative approach to putting this family in front of the viewers of ABC. He's right that a lot of the feel-good lessons aren't exactly daring in the face of what television has been saying for decades about everything being ultimately universal.

 

But he's also right that there are bracing moments in which this show is pushing on dynamics that don't come up all that often, as when Eddie finds himself tussling with the black kid at his school over who's "on the bottom" of the pecking order. Every episode has a couple of moments like that, where a new facet is added to a pretty ordinary sitcom plot and even a jaded eyebrow may go up in interest.

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