Ah, the family success struggle, a very relatable topic to many. It seems like many families always have the dynamic of one well-off sub-section of their family, and all the rest looking on in envy. In the fourth episode of ‘Fresh off the Boat,’ this very theme comes up and is portrayed surprisingly well.
Even if the family dynamic above isn’t something you can related to, almost everyone can relate to the classic ‘family get-together.’ In ‘Fresh off the Boat,’ the get-together is used as a device to bring about the conflict, and the major theme. The show makes a statement towards the end of the episode, that being that money and success are all important, but sometimes in your effort to show off, you may fail to see that the people you are trying to show off to also have their own problems.
This theme of showing off and competitiveness is shown in the Huang family’s actions in preparations for their family visiting. They put their youngest kids into the pantry to sleep, making sure that their family doesn’t notice that the house doesn’t have enough room for visitors, they get a fake fax line, to make it seem like their restaurant is successful, and they get the ‘success perms’ from which the episode gets its name.
Their visiting family also does certain things to show off. Jessica’s sister gets fake breasts and Jessica’s brother-in-law Steve even drives the full trip to Florida in his sports car to show off.
Eventually, both families realize that they are both going through problems, Steve is in debt like Louis, and Jessica and her sister still have to fight for the very little love their mother shows. Eddie even goes through his own little version of this. He attempts to show off his knowledge of hip-hop to his cousin, but when his cousin comes over and listens, he says that hip-hop is for kids, and that he doesn’t listen to it anymore. Eddie, like his family, realize that their family have as many problems as they do, and that it wasn’t worth the effort to try and show off.
The theme portrayed in this episode can be observed in almost every family get-together. Everyone tries to show their family how pretty their house is and how well they are doing, but in that, they forget that their family’s situation is probably more like their own than they think.