Fresh Off the Boat tackles sexual harassment and rape in episode 5 of season 1, albeit in a very surface level manner, so as to include comedy. The main focus of the episode is Eddie (the protagonist) trying to fit in with the other kids at middle school and, to do this, Eddie claims he has a dirty movie to coerce the kids to have a sleep over at his house. In fact, he has no idea what a dirty movie even is, and when the other kids come over to his house, Eddie shows a sexual harassment video that was meant to be shown at his dad’s workplace. The kids sat dumbfounded in front of the TV as they watched what they thought was a dirty movie. This video then spreads around the school, creating an epidemic of kids imitating the video, revealing that none of them know anything about what sex really is. For example, the boys would approach girls, and say something like, “If you select me as your boyfriend, I’ll select you for the promotion,” or “Hey girl, how bout we have one for the road?” Obviously, the kids had no idea what any of this meant.
This leads in all the parents giving “the talk” to their kids. Louis (Eddie’s dad) insisted on giving Eddie his version of the talk, which was very detailed to say the least. After he finished, he went out to talk to Jessica (Eddie’s mom), and she asked, “Did you tell him not to date rape?” When he responded no, she ran into Eddie’s room and assaulted him with a big stuffed animal screaming, “YOU LIKE THAT?!!”
This scene is very comical, but it amazed me that a family show would discuss something like this. Generally, I would not expect a family sitcom to go into the topics of consent and rape. In most family sitcoms, it can be expected that “the talk” may happen, but they would rarely, if ever, even mention something like rape or consent. I feel as if introducing this into more shows, society – and the kids watching the show – would develop their ideas of sex to include consent, rather than what is normally shown on TV.
Of course, the show as a whole still over represents the male gender and includes many gender stereotypes. Particularly in this episode, Jessica, while giving a lecture on sexual harassment to a group of workers, ironically flirts with one of them, reinforcing the idea that women have an urge to be flirty. She also says that all women must cross their legs while sitting. Despite this, I still think that the show, and this episode in particular, is a step in the right direction for pop culture. Although Jessica’s talk wasn’t perfect, it is something that should be commonplace in all households.