"Fresh Off The Boat" is a freshman comedy on ABC which follows the life of the Huang family after their move to Orlando, Florida. Based on the memoir of Eddie Huang, the show displays many interesting facets of American life for a Chinese family and tackles issues relevant to the American culture of the 1990s while never loosing focus of its humor.
The most notable member of the cast is Randall Park who plays Eddie's father Louis Huang. Park, who played Kim Jong Un in "The Interview," was honestly one of the main reasons why I decided to start watching the show thanks to his fantastic performance in that film. He maintains that same level of humor in this show as he tries to get his restaurant, Cattleman's Ranch, off the ground. His very relaxed mindset compared to his wife's also allows for some humorous contrast between the character's which works well most of the time.
Constance Wu plays Louis' wife Jessica, a traditionalist Chinese woman who plays on many of the typical stereotypes surrounding Chinese families in regards to high performance standards and a respect for history. Wu does this very well, giving the character a nice level of substance as we see Jessica's own flaws come to the surface in certain episodes. I honestly did start out disliking Wu's character as she seemed a tad high-maintenance but by the end of the 13-episode first season she grew on me as she loosened up.
Hudson Yang plays young Eddie Huang, a rebellious, hip-hop loving kid who is the eldest son of Louis and Jessica. Yang is easily the focus of the show as many episodes begin with a voice over by his supposed older self setting up various events in his life. Yang does a nice job displaying the uniqueness of his character while adding bits of humor throughout. Having child actors as some of the focus of the show is oftentimes a risk, but Yang proves time and time again that he is up to the task.
It is worth noting that the real-life version of Eddie Huang, author of "Fresh Off The Boat," has spoken out against the show numerous times for it divergence from the source material. So, while this family did exist, the events which happen to them aren't necessarily accurate. Since I haven't read the source material, this doesn't effect how I perceive the show.
Forrest Wheeler and Ian Chen also shine on this show as the two young kids of great intellect. Their charming character compared to Eddie's tough demeanor plays well most of the time as they consistently try to hold themselves to Jessica's standards while getting the ladies. They are a neat duo and both actors perform nicely.
While many of the show's situations are set up to be funny, they do often deal with pressing issues. While I won't get into specifics, there are episodes which deal with bullying, coaching, and racism, among other things. It's nice to see this show slide these issues into its context, even if they are often put behind the scenes.
One of the main issues I had with the show was its title: Fresh Off The Boat. If the Huang family had just recently arrived from China "fresh off the boat," it would make sense and be fitting. Perhaps that's how Huang's memoir actually begins, but as the family simply moves to Orlando from elsewhere in the U.S., it's meaning falters a little. Not a huge issue, but one which bugged me at the start.
As someone who enjoyed "Trophy Wife," it was nice to see Albert Tsai get some screen time as Philip Goldstein, a character who would become Eddie's rival. He delivered the same unique charm as he did on that show and made his episodes better because of it. If a season two renewal happens, here's to hoping he returns.
The last thing I want to touch on is the finale, which is often tough for any comedy of this sort without an overarching plotline needing conclusion. However, I thought it worked quite nicely and revealed what kind of has been the storyline for the season, that being Eddie respecting his Chinese culture. Seeing Eddie defend China was a neat conclusion for his character to take as it showed some real growth for him.
"Fresh Off the Boat" works well as an ABC comedy. While it does diverge from the source material, it is still very funny thanks to the actors and writers who know how to balance big issues of race and culture with comedy and laughs. If the show gets a second season, I will gladly keep watching it. I was actually disappointed when I realized it was the season finale I was watching since the show is very entertaining. Check it out if you haven't yet.
What did you think of "Fresh Off The Boat?" Did you think it deserves a full 22-episode season or should it be shipped off to elsewhere? Leave a comment below and let me know!