English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: Fresh off the Boat (Page 1 of 5)

My Final Farewell Before Being Fresh Off the Blog

Alright, yay! Last blog post! Party time! My journey with Fresh Off the Boat is finally coming to an end. Looking back, I am going to be honest. I did not like the show to begin with, and I still do not like the show now. However, it is a good show. I see that. It is just not my sense of humor, but it is well made and touches on real issues going on in the world today in a subtle way.

However, I feel like it’s only gone downhill. I love analyzing themes in shows and the deeper messages and the commentary on society. All shows do this (even the funny ones), but Fresh Off the Boat has lost its touch. They started the season really strong discussing topics such as stereotypes and gender roles. Now I have no idea what the show is talking about.

I saved my choice blog post topic for last, and I always had the intention of writing about theme for this one because it’s so interesting for me to discuss. But if I’m being honest, it hasn’t been interesting at all in the last few episodes. I watched 3 episodes today (I’m last minute I know) with the hopes of something worth talking about coming up and I got nothing.

The first episode I watched was about a gay man who came to visit who thought he had dated Louis Huang and had dated Jessica Huang as a cover for his sexuality. There’s nothing there so I try to search for some significant theme in the Huang family children. Eddie is unable to think of a science fair project, so he tries to get infected by his brothers’ chicken pox to avoid working and fails. In the end he learned so much about chicken pox by accident that he did his project on that with the help of his brothers. So, yay for comradery, but what’s the message. Learn about things you are passionate about? Even though he doesn’t actually care, and it was a ploy to do his work?

This is the Wham Halloween costume of Louis and the visiting college friend. It was too good to not include.

Fresh Off the Boat is doing good things in terms of putting a spotlight on important topics, but I don’t think that just because a show is lost in the middle of the season it should give up on delivering an important message. The writers don’t even have to come up with new themes and messages every episode – just thread the same ones throughout the entirety of the show. But, hey, I have to cut them some slack; I am basing this off of half of their first season. Maybe there’s more to discover if I keep watching?

How to Avoid Existentialism

Today, I’m going to take us ALL the way back to the season one finale of Fresh Off the Boat, “So Chineez.” True to the underlying theme of the show, this episode directly addresses the issue of being Chinese in a mostly white community, and losing a grip on one’s identity. This is actually a very deep, existential problem that extends far beyond the realm of one’s culture, but the show keeps it reigned in and lighthearted in nature, true to its genre.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the show takes few things seriously. Cultural identity is one of those things. While it becomes the target of some jokes along the way, most of the discussion, and even the context of the jokes, in the episode is framed in order to tackle this issue and make it more approachable for the average person watching the show. In this episode, Jessica is concerned because she feels that she is letting the boys down by losing her grasp on her heritage and culture and failing to expose them to it. And, true to character, she overreacts and goes overboard trying to get them involved in Chinese culture.

As you could probably guess, this is a struggle that I do not relate to at all. I don’t have any kids (thank goodness) and I’m not culturally isolated by any stretch of the imagination. However, the presentation of this dilemma in the episode really allowed me to feel what it would be like to be in this situation. I definitely had seen the value of preserving one’s culture before, but I was not aware of such a struggle to do that. As such, the show does a good job addressing the issue in a way that gets people involved, but also retaining its voice.

Image result for so chineez

Jessica doing what she does best: the most

In the end, Louis comes in clutch and saves the day, reminding his wife of all the things they do that keep them plugged in to their roots. The episode ends in a very oddly perfect visual metaphor. The family gets a Florida vanity plate with the plate number “SOCHINEEZ.” I don’t think there would be a better way to represent the meshing of these two cultures.

Image result for so chineez

The only reason the Huangs aren’t getting into the good place

The Power of Music in Relationships

Throughout Fresh Off the Boat, music serves as an important component in building relationships. The show tries to communicate that music preference plays a central role in friendship formation. One of Eddie’s primary distinctions is his interest in rap. Not only does it provide a conversation starter, but provides a sort of emotional connection through shared interests. Without actually saying anything, it demonstrates that the emotions strongly felt are shared between two individuals. This is extremely important in the context of building a relationship. Eddie utilizes music as a means to build friendships. One of the most significant occasions of this is in episode 11 of season 3, wherein Eddie struggles to connect with his cousin until they realize that they both share a passion for free styling. Not only does this provide a shared activity for them, but it also seems that Eddie has a newfound appreciation for him. After free styling, Eddie’s tone completely changes around him. This demonstrates the power that music has to be used to create a connection.

In episode 13 of season 2, Eddie makes a mix tape for a girl he likes. They initially started talking because of their shared taste in rap, so Eddie thought that creating a mix tape would help strengthen their relationship. Eddie fears talking to her on the phone, so he decides making a mix tape would, “do the talking for [him].” Eddie feels as if music can communicate his emotions. Music serves as insight into Eddie’s thoughts. It is a huge portion of his identity. In fact, in the episode, this girl becomes mad at him and she says, “Nothing you say is gonna…” and Eddie cuts her off with his mix tape. The music calms her down and she begins to understand him and eventually they make up.

Eddie making a mix tape

Overall, the show demonstrates how powerful music is as a means of connection. It easily communicates one’s emotions to another, regardless of any held beliefs.

What Fresh Off the Boat Teaches Us

As I’ve independently watched and analyzed Fresh Off the Boat, I have learned a lot from this show.  No matter how lighthearted the jokes may be, the show still offers a glimpse into the struggles of a child of foreign-born parents as he grows up feeling out of place.  So, for this last post, I’ll be looking at what makes this show successful according to some of its top names.

To begin, it’s worth mentioning that Fresh Off the Boat is loosely based on the childhood of the REAL-LIFE Eddie Huang.  Yep, that’s right.  He’s real, and he’s a TV chef!  Cool, huh?  As the show was first being developed, his input was taken into very close consideration because, after all, the show is all about him.

One main reason that allowed Fresh Off the Boat to give a different kind of insight into the lives of immigrants is summarized by Nahnatchka Khan, the showrunner.

“It’s told from the inside out, meaning the Huangs are always the ones who are telling the story, not the ones being looked at in a fish bowl and pointed at,” she says.  This element stands out in several aspects of the show.  The family is never portrayed in a way in which they look foolish.  Sure, there are some humorous moments in which the cultural differences come to light (see Jessica and the country club, S1E7), but these are always laid-back, and as confirmed by Khan, this type of joke was intentional.

Another main reason that Fresh Off the Boat has been successful and widely praised is its lack of stereotyping.  Yes, Jessica did homeschool her kids with her own version of “Chinese Learning Center,” but this was not presented in a demeaning way.  Rather, Eddie presented this whole ordeal (in his eyes) as something Chinese parents do.  It was neither harmful nor degrading; in fact, it was presented as beneficial to kids’ roundedness.  Constance Wu, who played Jessica, speaks to this aspect in an interview.  She says, “Stereotypes are only dangerous when they are used as the butt of the joke, and our writers have taken great care to never write a single joke that is based upon a stereotype.”  As a Taiwanese American and a lead actress in the show, her praise of this writing technique speaks volumes.

In a world in which many are quick to judge and stereotype others simply based on appearance, Fresh Off the Boat’s depth in legitimizing Chinese-American culture is extremely refreshing.  Here’s hoping this is a trend that sticks.


Sources: http://time.com/3696111/fresh-off-the-boat-constance-wu/


Jessica said what we were all thinking when we showed up at Tech. Happy almost-end-of-the-semester, everyone!

Chillin out, Relaxin all cool: FotB

Fresh off the Boat is a show about assimilation, about the ‘American Dream’ and everything in between. The first episode of season 2 helps to frame a story of a family that has had a small slice of the ‘American Dream’, and used it to become middle class, and enjoy one of the sweetest bittersweet tastes of that very lifestyle… vacation.

Usually I find it hard to relate to the challenges depicted in Fresh off the Boat, but when the Huangs go on vacation, I felt a real connection. Coming from the middle class myself, I understand what it was like to live well enough, but not well enough to truly experience the ability to get whatever and, just like the Huangs, vacation was the only experience in which I and so many others could feel like kings.

This ability to connect with viewers, even if those very same viewers don’t share similar life experiences is a key factor in any good sitcom, this is usually done through the environment and characters, familiar faces (many of which are not people of color) provided a viewer-base with a superficial bond with the characters.

A picture into the classic sitcom cast, diversity NOT being a requirement.

The ability for more modern sitcoms to relate with viewers while not providing a superficial connection due to color and origin is a special trait. This brings me back to Fresh off the Boat, a show about an Asian family integrating into the American middle class, and its ability to make themselves as American as any of their viewers, while still maintaining their identity (while being a little under-the-radar).

While i’m not saying that shows such as The Brady Bunch are bad, I actually think they are quite good, I am saying that they were clearly taking the safe route. I have talked before about the commonality between all American sitcoms, even poking at Fresh off the Boat for their safe lighting and design choices, but I would like to take the time to thank the modern sitcom.

Thank you for expanding our cast identity, backgrounds, colors and genders, America as a cultural, TV-watching, unit could always do with at least a little diversity filled vacation.

Rap or Race – Which Unites More?

In Episode 8 of Season 1, Eddie is excited to meet Phillip Goldstein, another Asian-American, in hopes of bonding over their potential similarities. However, it turns out their similarities are very slim but much of the school staff forces them to be together because they assume the two boys would get along based on their physical similarities. The episode is trying to argue that even if certain people share a race, they still have many other characteristics that make them unique. The show continues to emphasize this theme by presenting Phillip as the “stereotypical” Asian kid who is sophisticated and plays the cello. Eddie, on the other hand, is the complete opposite with his affection for rap music.


Soon after they meet, Phillip and Eddie realize that they do not have much in common and this results in them not being very fond of each other.

Though it seems like the two boys could never get along, that changes after Phillip lies to help Eddie go to the Beastie Boys concert. Even though, Eddie is not like the typical Asian child, a consistent theme within the show, him and Phillip are still willing to have each others’ back due to their similar circumstances. The show is simultaneously arguing that even though race is not a defining factor, it can still be a unifying characteristic within a community. However, after Phillip ditches Eddie, Eddie has to reevaluate what he is looking for in a friend. Like Jason Howard mentioned in his blog post, the show continues to revolve around the idea that  “Eddie is not entirely Asian, and not entirely American, but has pieces of his identity within both cultures”  which leads Eddie to form a bond with an African kid over music. Ending the episode like this argued that even though race is a common unifying factor, it is not the only.

Heritage and Tradition in Fresh Off the Boat – An Analysis of How the Huang Family Maintains their Asian Identity While Assimilating into White Florida Culture

Fresh Off the Boat struggles with a great many issues that Asians have had to face, and continue to face today. While the perceived benefits of assimilating into White culture are displayed extensively throughout the show (social acceptance, business success, and less judgement received from white neighbors) the Huangs have to constantly battle within themselves to determine their identity in a rapidly globalizing world today. This struggle is especially highlighted in the episode, “So Chineez,” in which Jessica observes just how far their family has changed to fit in with their whitewashed surroundings as she finally becomes close with her neighbors and Louis considers joining a country club. The conflict of this episode revolves around the Huang family’s appreciation of the American culture that they have assimilated into, including both the luxury and the leisure of life in the middle class, against Jessica’s desire to reconnect with the Chinese culture that has defined both her and Louis’s work ethics. As Louis begins to enjoy his visits to the country club both for its luxury and for its business opportunity, he and other family members begin to resist Jessica’s push to maintain Chinese culture because the life that they have fallen into in Orlando has become one that they are both comfortable and accepted in.

Jessica attempts to reconnect with her culture by donning some traditional Chinese garb.

Throughout this episode Jessica comes to the realization that it is nearly impossible to live in a white suburb without assimilating into their culture and discovers a certain middle ground in which one can both assimilate into a culture while respecting and understanding one’s historical roots. This establishes a key concept throughout the show of the Asian-American intersectionality in which Eddie is not entirely Asian, and not entirely American, but has pieces of his identity within both cultures. What Eddie tries to convey in his memoir that this show is based off of is that this is what separates Asian Americans from Asians and Americans.

Fresh off the Boat!!!

Since this is the final blog post of this class, I am going to discuss the greatness of the show Fresh off the Boat as my free choice! Fresh of the Boat is a great show that would be relatable to many viewers, especially ones that are first generation Americans. Even those who are not first generation Americans will find this show hilarious. This show provides a very unique story with a very unique family. This show is actually the first show to star an Asian family in many decades. This is related to our topic of feminism and television because it took too long for American television to start having main roles as women. In addition, this show was written by a woman. It is amazing to see the content she has produced in such a new category while taking the risk of staring an Asian family as it had not been done in so many years. This show has been a great success and a monumental milestone for television. Something I personally enjoy about this show is that it gives a nice break from other shows that rely on suspense and drama. This show does not have any cliff hangers and is very enjoyable to watch just to relax and have a good time. There is not a need to be super focused and drawn in to enjoy the show. In addition, it is a good show to watch as the episodes are only 20 minutes and because there are not any cliff hangers, you do not have to worry about wasting too much time binge watching the show. This show does a great job in incorporating the aspects of a tv show that makes it complete: writing, cinematography and direction, theme, and gender.

When you promise your friends something but don’t have the means of completing the promise

The Boat Stops Here – Handling Racism in “Fresh off the Boat”

“Fresh off the Boat” is one of the only running shows on TV to feature an Asian family as its lead cast of characters. However, the plights of the children shown (first generation immigrants) are not entirely unique to those of Asian descent. I quickly realized how many plot points were shared between episodes of “Fresh off the Boat” and “One Day at a Time,” a show about the life of a working-class Cuban family. There were two storylines that I particularly noticed: when Eddie and Alex both wanted to buy new shoes for school but were denied the chance by their mother, and more importantly when both Eddie and Alex beat up kids who called them racial slurs. The fact that two shows decided to address this problem shows that it is a serious issue that needs addressing, especially at a time where hate crimes are on the rise. So for my free entry blog, I wanted to take a look at how “Fresh off the Boat” handles the issue of responding to racism addresses.

In the aforementioned episode (in fact, the very first episode of the show), Eddie punches a classmate who called him a slur. To Eddie’s surprise, we see his family defend him against his punishment from the school. In contrast, Alex is chastised by his mother for fighting his classmate, emphasizing the idea of “by fighting back, they win.” So, which show was right? Defend yourself, or come back with words? Unfortunately, this debate isn’t entirely wrapped up in “Fresh off the Boat.” Writers generally stayed away from the addressing of direct racism in future episodes, except for some minor cases where characters would assume something about the Huangs based on stereotypes.

Eddie’s parents defending him against his principle.

However, another commonality between these two episodes was a direct response to the overall racism: both kids wanted to suppress their culture as a result. Alex wanted his family to stop singing their support for him in Spanish; Eddie wanted to only eat American food at lunch. Luckily, both episodes end on triumphant notes, with both characters choosing not to hide their roots, but to embrace them. This is important: the shows do not force the viewer to hear that you should respond to racism with love. However, they make two important points on handling racism: first, the self-suppression of culture is never an appropriate response to racist comments. Second, it is always important to stand up against the racist (even though throwing punches is not necessarily the best means of doing so). I found this very first episode of Fresh off the Boat to be very moving, which is why I decided to return to it for my last blog entry. The shows both tackle racism in different ways, but they do have one thing in common: they show that no matter what, racism cannot be allowed to win.

The End of A Journey for FotB- Insecurities

Looking back at the two seasons I have watched for the Fresh Off the Boat, I am particularly fond of season 2 episode 15. This episode touches on an important issue that does not only affect teenagers but, as seen in the episode, also affect grownups as well: insecurity.

So true… So true…

This issue may be emphasised in college as bullying often occurs, and sometimes the reason for feeling insecure between age groups is different. For example, younger people may feel insecure about their physicality while older personals may have a greater chance of feeling insecure regarding relationships. In the show, it is evident that Jessica feels extremely threatened by Louis meeting a friend from the opposite gender in a pool hall and decides to put some ground rules. As she starts making her long list of rules, from only meeting “when the Sun is up” to “photos of your children must be present at all times” it creates a comical effect that helps draw attention to Jessica’s insecurity. Thus, this raises an important issue in modern-day society: should this level of paranoia and insecurity be considered the norm in today’s society?

This question is hard to put a definitive answer as an extent everyone would feel insecure about things: ranging from looks to wealth. This societal issue is further highlighted when Eddie felt vulnerable when he found out Alison, his girlfriend, used to fancy Dave, his best friend. Therefore, the day after, he became overly defensive when he saw Dave talking to Alison. To make things worse, Alison found out Eddie’s double standard when Nicole came by and asked if he’s still up for ice cream.

The question is how can we solve it… the simple answer we can’t. However, what we can do is alleviate the insecurity that arise from the insecurities. An example solution is evident in the show when both Dave and Eddie, Jessica and Louis decide to reveal their insecurities and talk their way through it. Other solutions may be explored and I believe that it is important that colleges should allocate more budget on solving mental issues and help raise awareness on methods or programs to solve these insecurities.


Fresh off the Boat has an interesting and unique representation of gender. In the family, everyone is scared of the mom, including her husband. She makes all the big decisions and can be very feisty. This is a nice change to having the man always in power. Gender power is definitely represented through age at the same time. The grandma is very quiet and only speaks when spoken too. Her feet are also bound, and she cannot walk. This show does not have much relating to queerness, so far at least. In season one episode five, the main conflict was between the family and their in laws because there has been an ongoing “competition” on who is more successful and financially stable. One aspect of the competition was looks and Eddie’s mom curled her hair because that represent money and Eddie’s cousin’s mom got breast implants. This shows how body appearance is connected to value in this show and community. This is intriguing because in today’s day and age, class and value is trying to separated from looks and appearance. However, the setting of this show is in 1995 when this present wave of equality was not as present. As a result, this show has an accurate depiction of what society was like over twenty years ago. Over the duration of this episode, the two families continued to battle for the prize and the two moms battle to be the favorite of their mom. Eddie’s mom was always the favorite but lost her spot after she “abandoned” her. Overall, this episode was not very related to any gender representations beside the stereotypes of Asian culture. It was ironic to see how Eddie’s cousin’s family was lying the entire time and how happy Eddie’s family was when it was confirmed that the Miata was used.

When your sibling is talking bad words about you indirectly

4th Time’s the Charm: Gender in Fresh off the Boat

The gender representation in Fresh off the Boat suffers from a lack of women in its cast, and the women in the show are usually just side characters (besides the Huang matriarch).

The show has a lack of women in it, but this might be due, in part, to the lack of women in the Huang family. Despite this lack of women, the show will still usually have 1 of the 3 sub-plots dedicated to Jessica. In this episode, she is quite present.

Jessica is usually shown to be the least nonsensical family member, as her husband is a completely goofy character. Despite this, she is depicted as a bit of an eccentric in this episode because of her superstitious beliefs. She is proven right in the end, and the family must change with the help of their grandmother’s strange rituals.

Jessica is a strong mother, she takes an active role in her kids’ lives and plays an active role in the family affairs, usually overpowering her husband. Despite this good representation, this happens to fall into one of the oldest stereotypes of Asian women, the Tiger Mom. On top of this classical stereotype, Jessica is an Asian middle-class penny-pincher. The show does a good job at showing the audience these stereotypes, but also doe not do much in the way of breaking them.

Jessica, in a fight with her husband (that she totally wins)

The show tends to allow Jessica’s character with many victories, she basically controls the family, wins most arguments she gets into, and is extremely gifted at selling houses, all of which are great for a strong female presence, but these little victories can not make up for the classical stereotypes that the show espouses, the Tiger Mom and penny-pincher, both of which are never addressed or talked about outside of the many jokes and gags present.

While Fresh off the Boat may be a funny sitcom about an under represented race in America, it does little to fix the associated stereotypes and deceptions of that very same race’s women.

Fresh Outta Film School

Fresh Off the Boat has a fresh visual design. The colors are bright, the cuts are quick, and the color scheme is warm. This show is so wholesome that it even reflects in the visual design. The colors are warm schemed, reflecting the warmth of the show and the inviting characters as the series wants to display their family dynamic. This has the effect of carrying over the program’s lightheartedness. There are no gloomy days, dark scenes, or special effects in the show. It is very clean cut and looks bright and cheery even when nighttime scenes are shown.

Image result for fresh off the opening gif

fight like sisters, love like sisters

The show has mostly longer scenes, with a plotline falling over an average to long timeframe, but shots are quick and clean. Conversations between characters are shot with quick cuts between each perspective, ping-ponging between lines of dialogue. Every once in a while scenes are shot differently, like the opening of Episode 7, when the Huang’s are in a mock robbery scene. The opening of the showtimes special edits with riffs and music. The narration is paired with shots, especially when narrating the thoughts of multiple characters at a time, which the show does often. These long takes help the development of the show by allowing for longer jokes and humor with better punchlines and more drama between the characters. Scene 7 also shows a fantasy of Eddie Huang wanting to hit on his crush, who he is intimidated by, by showing her his music taste. In this scene, he gets up to walk back to her and enters a fantasy edit with backup dancers and an autotuned bus driver. More intimate scenes, like one on one conversations between the mom and dad, are shot closer up, leading you into the conversation as if you were there. If it weren’t shot this close, it would feel as though you are observing something private, and may lose engagement with viewers.

Related image

the way they look at each other <3

I find the intro of the show interesting cinematographically because it uses unique panning styles and zooms not used in the actual showtime. In the title sequence as well as most of Eddie’s scenes, the music is paired with the style of the shot. Zooms have riffs, sexy scenes have jazz, happy scenes have elevator music and Eddie’s got his 2pac. Is this show Straight Outta Compton or Straight Outta Suburbia?

The Huangs GET SHOT

Fresh Off the Boat takes an interesting turn in season two, episode nineteen. In the beginning of the episode, we see that Jessica is upset because her favorite drama t.v. show will be off air until its next season starts. Following this, the episode’s ambiance gradually  becomes more and more dramatic to emulate such a show, which is pretty different than the usual vibe. Usually, the show is very brightly lit and colorful, contributing to a light and very welcoming and easy-to-watch atmosphere. But in this episode, there is more use of darkness and contrast to add to the dramatic effect.

Some scenes in this episode are visibly darker than usual.

This reminds me of some of the shots from an earlier episode in season one where Louis agrees to coach Eddie’s basketball team. Eddie imagines his father playing basketball like an old kung fu movie, with flying fight scenes and dramatic dialog. The writers’ use of cinematography to change the mood or delivery of episodes is an interesting concept in my opinion. It introduces a lot of freedom to the writers’ roles in developing episodes. Writers can, and do, change some of the basic elements of the show from time to time to convey different things. I think this is a pretty unique quality for a show to have, and it seems like this show is a lot of fun on both ends of the production as writers can introduce fun episodes such as these.

One thing that remains constant, cinematography-wise, is the use of many cuts in a single scene. In the context of the viewer, this creates a feeling of a fast pace in scenes. I don’t really know why this would be desirable from a production standpoint, though. This may be a result of a low budget or the inclusion of child actors, so that many takes can be strung together without seeming out-of-place.

Shooting Fresh Off the Boat

Good evening, friends!  Let’s return to one of my favorite American families and their latest adventures.  Well, latest is a relative term, considering that Fresh Off the Boat is currently airing its fifth season, and I’m still watching and reviewing the first season… but that’s beside the point!  Their adventures are new to me, and for this assignment, that’s all that matters.

Angles, color, length of shots, and scene/plot complexity are all elements of a TV show that make it both watchable and unique.  Fast-paced shows (Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives comes to mind) incorporate bright colors and quick shots.  The Good Place uses lighter colors to represent a serenity of sorts.  Fresh Off the Boat combines multiple color schemes to convey a complex theme.  Lighter, pastel colors are often present when the whole Huang family is together, and these convey a peaceful tone.  When the entire family is in the same place (especially in their own home), the “better when we’re together” feeling is almost tangible.

In many of Eddie’s adventures in which he hangs out with his school friends or pursues yet another girl way out of his age league (sorry buddy, somebody had to say it), the color scheme is generally vibrant.  Not only is this bright palette attractive to viewers, but it is also indicative of pleasant, happy times for Eddie.

Typically, each episode is Huang-family-centered.  The main plot concerns most, if not all, family members.  Additionally, Louis always has some trouble with entrepreneurship, and Eddie has a problem with a friend (or a love interest).  So, each scene usually lasts for a few minutes, and the scenes that affect the entire family usually last a bit longer than those that only feature one or two.  Again, this detail points to the huge emphasis Fresh Off the Boat places on close family relationships.

As I have noticed throughout this entire first season of Fresh Off the Boat, the show really does feature close family bonds.  If all roads lead to theme, then cinematography is a highway in this sense.

Nice, pastel-dressed, happy family

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