In the conclusion of season 1, the Huang family struggle with their cultural heritage. They feel that they have become so assimilated into American culture that they have forgotten their roots. In the end, however, they realize that, in fact, they have not lost their heritage, but instead choose to put on an American persona when necessary. In this blog I will discuss the writing of this episode.
The episode, just like the rest of the show, was written by Nahnatchka Khan. She has written episodes for American Dad and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. Her parents immigrated to the US from Iran, so she can relate to the crisis that the Huang family face in the episode.
One of the most significant scenes in the episode is the revelation that Jessica has that the family is losing their culture. This scene occurs towards the beginning of the episode so as to clearly illustrate that this is the central topic. Jessica’s worry starts when their neighbor, Honey, tells her that “[the Huang family] are just like regular old Americans to [her].” During the scene, Jessica recounts all the American things they have started to do that completely contradict Chinese traditions. It seems as if one more contradiction keeps appearing. It starts with Louis allowing shoes to be worn in the house, then Evan comes in asking how to ask Grandma to speak English in Mandarin. As if on cue, Eddie walks in wearing a Rastafarian outfit for his world cultures project. Then, the scene culminates as Jessica realizes that she made mac and cheese for dinner. Obviously, Khan made each thing happen on perfect timing to add a comedic tone and dramatic effect. On top of the perfect timing of each element, the scene ends with a slow-mo huge crash as Jessica drops the pan of mac and cheese that fades out into silence. Khan does a great job in this scene of introducing the audience to how significant Jessica’s culture is to her by using such dramatic sound and perfectly timed dialogue.
In other parts of the episode the writing style is relatively similar to the rest of the season. There are a lot of events that happen quickly and right after each other with quick cuts between scenes with a small sound snippet used as a transition so as to keep the audience engaged and maintain an overall positive mood. This style is common among all shows in the sitcom genre and is comfortable and normal for an American audience. Khan decides to use this style because she strives to demonstrate the commonalities between an Asian-American family and a typical American family. Had she decided to choose a more unique and different style, it may counteract this goal.