Last night brought the television debut of Fresh Off the Boat, the new TV series based off of Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same name. The show centers around an Asian American family making the transition from living in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown to living in Orlando, Florida. Here’s a round-up of stories from across the interwebs:
Emil Guillermo recounts the history of Asian Americans in TV shows, from 1959’s Hawiian Eye to 1994’s All American Girl to today’s Fresh Off The Boat, via the AALDEF blog: Is “Fresh Off The Boat” historical or the taming of Eddie Huang?
Lenika Cruz writes in the Atlantic that there’s a lot riding on Fresh Off The Boat:
I’m not Taiwanese-American, like the Huang family in the show, and I don’t expect to ever see a sitcom specifically about a Chamorro-Okinawan-Filipino family from Guam (that would just be narcissism). But Margaret Cho’s words—“You don’t understand invisibility until you realize that you’re not invisible anymore”—have an important corollary: You don’t begin to understand visibility until, you realize you’re finally visible. We don’t quite understand how to deal with this kind of sunlight yet, but Fresh Off the Boat has given us another chance to try.
Before the show’s debut, Executive Producer Nahnatchka Kahn talked about the show with Entertainment Weekly:
The Asian component of this was never intended to be the butt of the joke. We just wanted to make these characters strong and funny in and of themselves. The fact that they happened to be Asian influences things, because that’s where they’re coming from and that’s their perspective, but it’s not the joke. You know? I feel like we’ve seen the Asian community being the butt of the joke, the nerdy friend at work or whatever. It was important to tell real stories featuring these real charcters who are also funny, but not for the reasons that you have seen before.
Julianne Hing writes for Colorlines: ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ Won’t Make You Cringe!
I know it’s too much to ask of any one sitcom to expect to see my own childhood reflected back at me. The Asian-American experience is way too diverse. But, there were moments of “Fresh Off the Boat” that brought me back to my own childhood. My mom, too, forced math workbooks on my siblings and me. She’d pass them to us during morning drives to school—why let a perfectly good car ride go to waste?—and on vacations. She’d also pack an electric keyboard in the trunk of the family van before road trips so we’d never have an excuse to skip out on piano practice. It was a memory I’d completely buried until last night.
Jean Ho had a recap of the Los Angeles viewing party on Flavorwire:
The pilot episode of Fresh Off the Boat won cheers and genuine guffaws from the crowd. During the half-hour before the second episode aired, Yang and Yu participated in an informal talk-back session with members of the audience. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, and the room buzzed with discussion that darted between Wu-Tang, the relationship of Asian Americans to black culture and rap music, who’s laughing at jokes about “white people food,” the burden of cultural representation, George Lopez, John Cho and the abrupt cancellation of Selfie, Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles, Margaret Cho, and whether “middle America” will get on board with a show featuring an Asian-American cast.
NBC News Asian America: ‘Today, We’ve Arrived’: Fresh Off the Boat Makes TV History
Fresh Off The Boat premier roundtable at Slate with Jennifer Lai (of Slate), Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man), and Arthur Chu (Jeopardy champion)
The buzz around the show got #FreshOffTheBoat trending on Twitter, and filled viewing parties in New York and California.
- AsAm News: #FreshOffTheBoat hits home with Asian American Twitterverse
- NBC News Asian America: The Live Tweets That Helped Trend #FreshOffTheBoat
- Asian American Journalists Association New York: AAJA, celebs & more celebrate ‘Fresh Off the Boat’
Fresh Off The Boat airs Tuesday nights at 7pm on ABC-7 in Chicago.