Fresh Off a Rocky Boat

Courtesy ABC.

 

Courtesy ABC.

Courtesy ABC.

Fresh Off the Boat is just as funny as I thought it would be. Randall Park — so brilliant as Kim Jong-un in The Interview — is wonderful as Louis Huang, who schleps his family from D.C. to Orlando, Florida, for a better life. The first thing he does is open a steakhouse, complete with inept staff. Ruled over by his pushy wife Jessica (the beautiful and talented Constance Wu), and flummoxed by his three sons (12-year-old hip-hop freak Eddie, played by Hudson Yang, and the over-achieving and conniving Emery and Evan, played by Forrest Wheeler and Ian Chen), Louis tries to stay ahead of the game while pursuing the American Dream. Along for the ride is the sort-of spiritual Grandma Huang — the perfect Lucille Soong — whose dialogue is only in Chinese with English subtitles. Even that’s hilarious.

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Now for the drama that goes along with this comedy. Apparently the real Eddie Huang, on whose memoir the series is loosely based, has begun trashing the TV adaptation. Huang wrote a scathing piece, published by New York magazine, that included this:

My story had become an entertaining but domesticated vehicle to sell dominant culture with Kidz Bop, pot shots and the emasculated Asian male.

He added:

…this show isn’t about me, nor is it about Asian America.

And he has continued to go lambaste Fresh Off the Boat with this tweet:

I had to say something because I stood by the pilot. After that, it got so far from the truth that I don’t recognize my own life.

So what’s the future for the first network TV series about Asian Americans since Margaret Cho’s All American Girl was prematurely canceled after 19 wonderful episodes? Sure, there are shows with ethnic stereotypes on right now like Black-ish, Cristela, The McCarthys and The Goldbergs, but if we can’t laugh at ourselves, what good is comedy? Are all African Americans trying to be white while maintaining their culture? Are all Mexicans stupid and lazy? Are all Bostonians drunk and Irish? Are all Jewish women loud, pushy and full of tacky taste? Of course not. Well, except for the pushy part, but I digress. The reason we should laugh at these shows is that they only make us realize just how far we have come in a nation of immigrants — where we can laugh about our humble beginnings and revel in our successes.

So my message to you, Eddie Huang, is to shut the fuck up. Enjoy the fact that there’s a show on TV starring Asian actors and grow up. You know how many people would be thrilled to see themselves portrayed on TV? Just ask playwright Susan Cinoman, Adam Goldberg’s real drama teacher, who is played so well by the uber-amazing Ana Gasteyer on The Goldbergs, what she thinks. I tell you what she thinks: she’s happy as a clam. Get over your egomaniacal little self before someone steals what’s left of your 15 minutes.

This Just In…
Scully and Mulder are back! Fox has announced a six-episode event series of The X-Files, with original stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Set to be filmed over the summer, the multi-Emmy Award-winning series will air at some date in the not too distant future, because the truth is out there.

This Week on the Tube…
The incredibly talented Margo Martindale guests on this week’s Mike and Molly, as the equally gifted Rondi Reed’s estranged sister. Two award-winning actresses duking it out is just my cup of tea. That’s Mon., Apr. 13, on CBS.

Best TV Moment of the Week…
What a great moment it was as ABC aired the pilot of Grey’s Anatomy. We got to see all those young interns, so full of wonder, enthusiasm and fear. We also got to experience the beginnings of Meredith’s relationship with Derek and her friendship with Christina. Watching Kate Burton as Ellis Grey, struggling with early onset Alzheimer’s, was the icing on the cake.

COLUMN: The TV Junkie
CATEGORIES: Identity, TV

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