This week I started Fresh Off the Boat, and had no idea what I would write my blog post about. It wasn’t until my second viewing that I started noticing all the little details about the cinematography that are actually worth talking about
In terms of the shots, there is a pretty steady mix of long and short shots. While during conversation there are long steady shots, there were often short shots in between. These shorter shots were used to flash images of other characters faces to gage their reactions to the conversation. These shots help the viewer take the conversation less seriously and highlight the absurdity of the conversation. These are mostly used for comedic effect, but the more interesting analysis can come in the choice of color and lighting in the episode.
The first thing I noticed were the colors and lighting. At the start of the episode, as the Huangs arrive at Orlando, the colors and lighting are bright. In flashbacks to Chinatown, the colors are very dim. This creates a very positive image about white, American culture in the viewers mind. For example, upon arrival at the house a gang of moms wearing a bright neon assortment of colors approaches Jessica Huang (the Huang family mom). When Eddie is eating lunch on the first day, he looks around and his eyes skim over the bright colors on other children’s lunchables.
However, as the episode progresses forward, colors surrounding the American culture begin to become more dim and lighting becomes dark. The colors don’t become dim because they are different, but rather because the darker lighting makes the colors see that way. The next time we see this gang of moms roller skating with Jessica, they are in the shade and their colorful activewear suddenly looks much more dim. This shows that the realization is setting in that American life is not as appealing as it looks. This same strategy is repeated in the supermarket scene. It is night time and dark out, but the colorful sign for “Food for All!!!” is glowing in the darkness. When they walk inside on the other hand, it is fully monochromatic and bland looking. Jessica even refers to it as looking like a hospital. At the end of the episode, as the Huang family walks away from Eddie’s middle school, their surroundings seem dull in color while their clothes are bright enough to stand out in this scene. This signifies the Huang family’s realization that the true happiness does not lie in conforming to American culture, but rather through acceptance of their own.