English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: Fresh off the Boat (Page 3 of 5)

A Little Too Lighthearted

Episode five of Fresh Off the Boat is written by Sanjay Shah, who has written six other episodes of Fresh Off the Boat and five episodes of King of the Hill. Like all other episodes of Fresh Off the Boat, this episode features a voiceover, which is Eddie Huang’s thoughts as he remembers the events taking place. He clears up his thoughts at important times and gives some extra information we might not know as we progress through the show.

The writing of this episode is very similar in structure to that of the other episodes. A main story arc is introduced and concluded within the same episode, with smaller conflicts along the way. Also like the rest of the series, the humor in the episode is very persistent. I definitely enjoy this facet of the writing. It keeps me engaged and gives the show a very lighthearted and fun tone.

Sometimes the show’s focus on being comedic gets in the way, though, of which this episode is a very good example. The episode’s major conflict involves sexual harassment, and by extension sexuality. Louis is forced to give Eddie “the talk” after a sexual harassment video makes its way through Eddie’s school. This talk is shown in one scene in which Louis mentions that one of the reasons he came to America was so that Eddie could have a more liberal experience with sex than he could in Taiwan. But that’s about as far as it goes. Following that, the scene is composed of a bunch of jump cuts to other parts of Louis’s talk, all of which are comical in nature. Eddie’s voiceover in this scene expresses his gratitude that his father didn’t use the corny school-issued book to teach him about sex, which is something of a viewpoint that the writers may be expressing. However, I don’t think this can be read into very far, since the talk Louis gave was once again the punchline to a joke.

Louis gives Eddie “the talk”

This is a problem for me- the show brings up an important topic and begins to dive into it, but then cuts itself off and doesn’t really bring the discussion anywhere. It’s honestly confusing to watch, since I can’t tell what’s supposed to be a statement and what’s a joke. It leaves me unsatisfied- the show opens up a lot of very good opportunities for the writers to use their medium to convey a message about something important! But instead, they opt to keep the tone very lighthearted and cover things up with more jokes. This tendency is observable in other episodes, too. I understand the want to keep the tone of the show light and comical, but it still leaves things to be desired since the show by nature has a lot of important issues it can address.

Fresh Jordan’s… Fresh Writing… Fresh Off the Boat

“Home Sweet, Home School”, the second Episode of Fresh off the Boat, really sets up the way the rest of the show will operate based on the style of the writers. A team of four is responsible for writing this episode, including Kourtney Kang (known for her role as a producer of How I Met Your Mother) and Eddie Huang, the focus of the autobiography and the narrator of the show. I think part of what makes this show so interesting is that Eddie narrates his own past life. He knows exactly how he felt in the moment and how he feels now that he’s grown up. As much insight as this offers, it’s also valid to check ourselves with how much we trust him- I mean he is writing out his life for the world. The combination of he and Kourtney Kang in writing this episode makes for an interesting personality in the writing- with her Emmy nominated comedy writing skills and his life experience it really makes the show a worthwhile watch both as a social commentary and as a chill binge watch.

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the best of both worlds ;)

This show is absolutely filled with noise. There is literally never silence. Even when the character to character dialogue isn’t going, there’s Biggie, Stephen King movies, NASCAR races, 90s hip-hop, and restaurant chatter in the back. The amount of constant noise makes the show really full and fun to watch. AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON EPISODE THREE
My goodness, when Evan did the voice over of the white moms talking at the neighborhood meeting, I laughed harder than I have in a while. Between the hip-hop tracks which emphasize Eddie’s moods, the clapback narrations, and Evan… well, being Evan, this show doesn’t stop with the jokes. The writing of this show is just absolutely on point for the message of it. The constant allusions to quintessential American favorites- Whitney Houston, Biggie Smalls, Karaoke, NASCAR, Blockbuster, block parties, basketball, denim jorts, and Jordan’s- make this show what it is. Hilarious.

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Jessica having her Whitney moment #mood

Cultural Appropriation of the Chinese New Year in Fresh Off the Boat

The topic of culture is extremely prominent in Fresh Off the Boat. In all episodes, some commentary on the culture of Asian-Americans is present. In season 2 episode 11, culture is extensively discussed through the theme that cultural appreciation leads to meaningful relationships whereas cultural appropriation creates increased detachment among individuals and separation of cultures. In this episode, the Huang family unfortunately miss their flight to where the rest of their family will be celebrating the Chinese New Year, and struggle to find somewhere at home for them to authentically celebrate the New Year.

The show does a great job of normalizing the holiday for the family. Although it seems to appreciate the significance of the event, the show remains down the earth in the conveying of the holiday, so that it seems like any other holiday. Despite this normalcy, the Huang family finds it extremely difficult to find any celebration int he area. Eventually, they get in contact with the “Asian American Association of Orlando” and the association excitedly responds that they are having a huge party. Yet, once the Huangs arrive, they find no other Chinese people. They find themselves faced with an American inspired festival full of events such as “dropping the rat” (referring to the American tradition of dropping the ball) and a “dragon dance” (a guy in a dragon suit dancing with a group of cheerleaders).

The “Dragon Dance”

The Huangs arriving at the festival

The show is clearly commenting on how cultural appropriation leads to stressed relationships and discomfort between the two parties. Obviously, the Huangs are extremely offended with the so called Chinese New Year celebration they arrived at. In fact, when Louis (Eddie’s father) exclaims, “Happy New Year,” Eddie responds, “What’s so happy about it?”

Later in the episode, however, the workers at Louis’s restaurant host an authentic Chinese New Year festival. The Huangs arrive shocked, ecstatic to see a traditional Lion Dance. During the festivities, the workers and the family grow closer and become more understanding and empathetic of each other, all while having a great time. The workers had a plethora of questions to ask, and the Huangs responded delightedly –  well up until the questioning went on for hours and they went back to celebrating.

Overall, it is blatantly apparent that the producers of the show strive to show how cultural appreciation brings people together to form positive relationships. The episode does a great job of communicating the importance of the message, while at the same time making it seem natural. Of course, this episode naturally fits into the rest of the show wherein Eddie and the Huang family strive to fit in with Americans while remaining strong in their culture and beliefs.

Grandma Huang commenting on the meaning of the Americans’ tattoos

More Homework Means “I Love You”

For this blog post I chose to discuss the theme of season 1 episode 2 – Home Sweet Home-School. This episode focuses heavily on family values versus personal wants and needs.

To begin with, here is a quick summary of the episode. It begins with Jessica Huang being disappointed that her son, Eddie, got straight A’s because school is too easy. Evan is annoyed with Jessica because she is too commanding at the restaurant so he sends her to tutor the boys afterschool for more stimulating work. Eddie is annoyed by this because he wants the free time to play outside like the American boys. While Jessica is gone, Evan bonds with restaurant employees and makes the restaurant a more joyful environment. Eventually, Eddie discovers what his dad has done, and helps his mom Jessica catch him, so she moves the studies to the restaurant. A few boys dine and dash on the restaurant which would not have happened had Jessica taken care of it instead of Evan. When a few of the workers offer to pay for the meal themselves, Jessica realizes that the restaurant is benefiting from spending money to foster a better environment. She tracks down the boys who dined and dashed and forces them to apologize to Evan to restore his faith in the goodness of people. She also gives the boys the afternoon off from their studies in order to play basketball with their dad.

Throughout this episode, every character learns a lesson. Jessica learns that relationship growth and happiness are also worth time and money. She begins to change her actions at the end of the episode. By giving Eddie free time and forcing the boys to apologize to Evan, she shows how her perspective and values have shifted.

Eddie learns a similar lesson, while playing basketball with his dad and siblings. While he plays, one of the neighborhood boys approaches him and is jealous that his family pays attention to him. His dad was playing basketball with him and that shows how much his dad cares. He then finally understands how much his mom cares. All together the family realizes the importance of prioritizing each other’s needs and recognizes that they show their care in untraditional ways. They don’t say “I love you” but they show it.

The Huang family does not say they love each other unless they are hiding something. They show their love in different ways.

This connects to the rest of the show by proving that the Huang family doesn’t have to conform to look and act like those around it. All the other families don’t spend as much time together or don’t care about grades that much, because the members of the family don’t care about each other that much. The Huang family can be unique and independent and has nothing to envy from other families.

This is what the show is trying to portray to the audience. All families or individuals are special in their own way and being different from those around you isn’t necessarily a bad thing. All families and individuals are unique and awesome in their own way!

Fresh Cinematography in Fresh off the Boat

This blog review is about the cinematography and direction of episode “Success Perm” from Fresh off the Boat. The show starts off with a conversation between the mom and dad and when they are expressing their love for each other the directors used a close up shot of their hands and then panned up to show the children’s reaction in the background which really helped the viewers feel the vibe of the scene. The montage in this episode implements a bunch of quick shots and then is immediately juxtaposed by the long shot of the parents when they finished and got perms. The lighting in this episode is mostly bright lit to reflect the warmth of the house that was prepared for the visitors. The show also uses zoom effects in order to show intensity and seriousness in particular scenes. This episode, compared to the previous ones uses a lot more pans to show the shift in reactions from the parents to the children. Every time the parents express their love for each other the camera pans to the children showing disgust. Whenever the grandmas come into the scene, they are shown from a low angle shot to express their dominance and wisdom over their children and grandchildren. During the restaurant shots, the scene was introduced with a wide angle of the whole restaurant to show that the restaurant was actually completely empty. And during the conversations between the people sitting at the dining table, there would be quick shots going back and forth so that the viewers actually felt as if they were part of the conversation. Overall, the show does a great job of direction and cinematography in the sense that the viewers always feel immersed in the show.

Long shots and bright lighting like this exemplify the success that the parents are trying to project.

Gender Representation in FotB

Even though Fresh off the Boat focuses on an Asian family’s experiences when moving to Orlando, the various genders represented helps pivot the plot and creates more intriguing characters in the show. It is shame that despite occasionally having various genders being represented, most of the cast are heterosexual.  One of the main characters, played by Constance Wu, is Eddie’s mom. Her impoverished and arduous background helped shape her brutal, power hungry and academic-first attitude. This helps gives an extra dimension to the show by creating a contrast in personality to her husband, Louis, who helps balance her aggressiveness with empathy and submission. Furthermore, this can be depicted as a form of portrayal of strong women.

The main focus on gender representation comes across on the first episode of season 4 when Nicole, Eddie’s close friend, came out gay after inviting him for a Taco lunch. Not only does this help empower the gay movement by giving confidence to the audience of the possibility of expressing out their feelings, but it should also be taken as highlighting the flaws that we have in our current society. As it took Nicole four seasons to gather enough courage to tell anyone, it can be assumed that it is due to the “unnatural” and “flawed” connotations that some communities may brand on the LGBT body that lots of social paradigms have to occur for the LGBT to be fully accepted into the community. The moment after Eddie, who expectedly was shocked as he expected Nicole to ask him out, gave Nicole comfort was perhaps my favourite and empowering scene in the episode.

The GIF above expressing Nicole’s reaction to Eddie’s support is extremely palpable.

In addition to supporting the LGBT community with Nicole’s character, I believe that this TV show also expresses other representational axes in junction to its main entertainment value. As mentioned in my last blog, the communal fusion between Eastern and Western values is especially highlighted in the representative characters. For example, Honey and Jessica, despite being best friends, having very different viewpoints of the world. Although the show effectively represents the cultural differences, the show ought to be criticised for its lack of African-American presence. Other than Walter, there were no other prominent African-American character. Except for this minor criticism, I love how the show gives insights into the life of a typical Asian-American family thus opening people to be more empathetic towards Asian beliefs.

Stereotypes and Writing (The Right way and The Huang way)

Today I would like to focus on an important aspect of ‘Fresh off the Boat’, its writing. I specifically decided upon episode 8 because it had some good humor/writing and dealt heavily with stereotypes, one of the chief themes of the show.

Episode 8 was co-written by Jeff Chiang & Eric Ziobrowski, two writers who have previously worked as guest writers for ‘American Dad’, and as staff writers for ‘Enlisted’ and ‘Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23’. This track record shows that they are both comedy writers, a claim which episode 8 backs up.

The episode starts off with the classic voice over by Eddie (real Eddie), which is the trademark of the series, and starts us off by stating what this episode will cover, Eddie finding someone at school who he can identify with.

Some of the important dialogue between Eddie and his mother start off the flashback and frame what they both want, Eddie to be a ‘good Chinese boy’ and Eddie wanting to go to the Beasty Boys concert.

The humor is typically scene based, revolving around Eddie and Philip’s interactions, and how all of the faculty at his school thinks that they like each other only because they are Chinese.

In the same manner that Eddie and Phillip are butting heads, Louis and Wyatt, his new greeter, are not getting along as much as Louis expected.

Just like how the Eddie and Philip are stereotyped, so too is Wyatt, a classic all american cowboy character

As usual, the show’s rap allusions keep us grounded in the era, but besides that, no illusions are used to any meaningful effect. The other standouts in this episode are the jokes (and Randall Park’s character). A great example of the humor is the faculty and their interactions with Eddie, specifically the principal. The final scene with Eddie was also a standout with the narration and the resolution of the character tension between Eddie and Walter.

The Mac-&-Cheese Debate: Identity in “Fresh off the Boat”

The first season finale of “Fresh off the Boat” marks a complete turnaround for the conflict faced by the Huangs. In this episode, Jessica realizes that they have immersed themselves too well into their American surroundings, and she now fears that her family has lost their culture. She then does everything in her power to stop this. What’s interesting about this conflict is that it is the exact opposite of the one the Huangs faced at the beginning of the season. They started with the struggle of feeling out of place and doing their best to assimilate, but now they are faced with the problem of “fitting in too much.” This brings up the theme of identity, the center of this particular episode and the show as a whole.

The exact moment when Jessica realized she was losing her roots (S1:E13)

The episode grapples with the question, “to what extent can you adopt a culture without losing who you really are?” Jessica’s stance at the beginning of the episode is an extreme: to no extent at all. Her strong opposition to everything American around her is a result of her new fear of being “whitewashed.” In contrast, Eddie’s stance appears that it is entirely okay to adopt a new culture. However, the shows true argument doesn’t manifest until the end of the episode, displayed by two key events. The first is when Jessica caves to Louis, professing her love for American TV shows and mac-and-cheese. The second is when Eddie stands up against his friend for making a joke about China. These both perfectly describe the show’s argument. Jessica’s realization conveys to the audience that adopting elements of American culture that you appreciate isn’t necessarily whitewashing. On the other hand, Eddie’s rise shows that is it important to never forget where you are from. As a result, the show’s answer to the question is a compromise. Identities are unique, and while it is fine to embrace what is new, it is important to appreciate what is traditional.

Jessica going “out with the new, in with the old” (S1:E13)

The theme of identity in this show is universal to the entire show. A large number of conflicts within the show relate to the issue of identity, whether it is debating one’s own identity or embracing those of others. “Fresh off the Boat” as a whole is a comment on a very real scenario for millions of American families and their own personal debates with identity. A large challenge with moving to America is acclimating to an entirely different culture while attempting to maintain one’s own. However, this challenge leads to one of the best qualities of America: the blending of cultures. The sharing of food, music, and traditions has allowed for identities to be spread and shared, creating new connections that would not have been present otherwise. The first season finale shows this exactly: heritage is essential, but there’s no harm with the Huangs enjoying some mac-and-cheese.

Sitcom Cinematography in Fresh Off the Boat: Similarities and Differences

From the first glance, Fresh Off the Boat may seem to be shot similarly to most sitcoms, going so far as to have an establishing shot over each new location, but in reality there are several key differences between how Fresh Off the Boat is shot and other sitcoms that we are all familiar with. For this post I will review season 1, episode 3: The Shunning. In this episode the show begins with an expositional recap of the show that highlights Luis’s struggle to run a restaurant and Jessica and Eddie’s struggle to overcome their otherness in the community. This recap consists of quick shots of dialogue that help to reinforce the ongoing conflicts between Eddie and his peer group, and Luis and his restaurant.

Similarly to most sitcoms, a lot of the comic and dramatic action unfold in a common gathering area, in this case, a living room. Early in the episode Jessica visits with the other neighborhood wives to shoot the breeze and discuss an upcoming block party. The camera zooms in on the character who is talking at the given moment but it keeps a wide enough shot to include the surrounding characters, which helps to reinforce Jessica’s overwhelmed state as she tries to blend in with the neighbors.

(The Huang parents while still being shot together are given a wide enough shot to convey both their body language and a full background.)

The dialogue between two characters in a sitcom will usually switch camera angles to focus on the character who is currently speaking in the show. In Fresh Off the Boat that is most certainly the case but the camera will also include the shoulder or back of the person being talked to, so as to give a sense of their presence in the dialogue. This practice reflects the shows overall tendency to rarely depict the Huangs by themselves. Since one of the focuses of this show is to portray the struggle of members of the Huang family to fit in, most of the show is designed to feature interpersonal interaction rather than individual experience.

Keeping It Interesting: The Writing in Fresh off the Boat

I chose to  talk about the writing in episode three (of Fresh off the Boat), “The Shunning”. Since the show is based on a memoir, Eddie Huang gets some credit for writing. He has also written for Bitch, Please!. The main person credited with this episode is Nahnatchka Khan, who also wrote episodes for American Dad, Malcolm in the Middle, and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 13.

It is sometimes easy to forget while watching TV how much time and effort goes into creating each and every show

The most unique component of the writing in this episode (& the thing that sticks out most to me) is the voiceover by future Eddie. Not only does it provide recaps and background information, it represents the inner dialogue of young Eddie. When Eddies gets an idea, like how he thinks getting a woman  will gain him respects with the neighborhood boys, the idea is explained in the voiceover from Eddie’s perspective.  This is  not super typical in shows, but I always prefer shows with narration like Jane the Virgin also has. It is very well done in FOTB, which is important because a memoir is personal thoughts and that can be hard to display through external dialogue, but a nice balance of voice overs and character dialogue makes for a well-done TV series. In the show you never have to worry about NOT knowing Eddie’s opinion about something or someone because the voiceover clearly states his opinions. Specifically in this episode, at then end his attraction to Nichole (neighbor) is VERY evident even though there is not external dialogue to prove so, it is all narrated by future Eddies.


The external dialogue of the episode is also unique because it is composed of mostly quick comments rather than long conversations. For example, when Emery is introducing his TWO girlfriends, they immediately both comment how they are okay with it (very funny scene). Also, what is becoming a common theme is Jessica (the mom) firing away quick comments to control her boys like “go to your room” or “go do *insert random task*”. This technique keeps the show fast-paced and interesting, which is what it takes in the modern television era to keep viewers.


The episode doesn’t use silence as  a major component because often instead of silence a couple beats of music play to bring it back to the idea that Eddies LOVES rap music. Speaking of rap, this is a major external reference in the episode. Eddies looks to rap music as his guide because it is his anthem (especially when it comes to his love life). The episode also alludes to NASCAR because that is the event that draws the whole neighborhood together for a block party and it serves as a major plot element. Eddie’s struggle for love, Jessica’s fight for her friendship with Honey, and Louis’s promotion of his restaurant in the episode all occur at the block party for NASCAR viewing (which is very stereotypically American).

the story about a little guy that lives in a blue world

The first episode of Fresh off the Boat is about as provocative as one can get when it comes to social issues for POC and immigrant families in the US. The writers of this show certainly aren’t scared to put their opinions and experiences out there, I mean Eddie Huang even named the main protagonist after himself. I thought Arvin’s commentary about the irony of the title was interesting too, essentially remarking that the family isn’t really fresh off the boat (from China or anywhere), but really from D.C., a markedly American town… and by saying ‘American’, let’s be perfectly clear that I mean all kinds of Americans. Chinatown very much being included. For that reason, I felt that Arvin’s observation shone a riveting spotlight on the theme of the storyline: that all people, background and skin color aside, are equal, but are treated as if they aren’t.

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uh oh…racism? *sips tea*

Personally, I enjoy the way that Eddie Huang brings us this theme. He doesn’t do so in a condescending or stark manner, but rather uses comedy, like Eddie’s quirky obsession with Nas, or the use of slang by the stereotypical ~cringy~ dad, plus a very stereotypical accent as the cherry on top. Because this theme is so provocative, especially in today’s political climate, the comic relief more effectively communicates Huang’s side of the story. As Eddie says as he’s preaching his life plan to his parents at the dinner table, he’s taking “a seat at the table” in a conversation far larger than himself or the show. By representing this Chinese American family as the focus of the story, and really by daring to tell their side of the story, Huang not only communicates the theme but tells it through a lens of respect and empathy which makes his message more tender and approachable.

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and so is this theme, @Eddie

If we’re really honest, we all know people get treated differently, whether you lie on the side of privilege or not so much so. Overall, I have already really attached to the characters. I enjoy them. And I enjoy their story. The one with less privilege, the real one, the awkwardness, and the struggle. This theme, so clear yet so delicately presented, is still very much present and poignant in Fresh off the Boat. And so far, I’m diggin’ it.

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i <3 fotb

Works Cited:

Huang, Edwyn. “Fresh off the Boat.” Season 1, episode 1, Hulu, 2015.

“Success Perm” in Asian Culture

Throughout the Fresh Off the Boat TV show, it expresses many key Chinese-Asian cultural values that may be foreign to the average audience. However, coming from an Asian background, I can easily relate to Asian cultural values that are highlighted. In particular, this is especially evident in Season 1 Episode 4: Success Perm as the episode demonstrates the value of materialism in gaining commendation in an Asian family and the comparative nature between siblings (Jessica and Connie) or husbands (Steve and Louis). From the very beginning when the Huangs went to buy fake lemon trees and got a perm to Steve having a grand entrance with his affluent Miata car and Connie getting breast “airbags” implants, the audience is immediately hit with a clear impression of the importance of symbolic materialism in Asian culture. While Steve and Louis’ rivalry is purely materialistic, Jessica and Connie have an intriguing rivalry of trying to impress their mother. All of these vying is effectively summarised when Jessica points out “They’re family. They’re coming to gloat about all of our misfortunes: the restaurant, Eddie…”

Typical Asian Cultural Value

At this point, the general audience may criticise the superficial, jealousy-spite filled, materialistic Asian values. But as the episode carries on, the audience is able to become more empathetic. This becomes apparent when Jessica opens up to Connie in regards to their struggling financial capacity, and in return Connie admits the pressure that she carries for being “mom’s favourite”. Thus, this allows the audience to become more sympathetic to Connie as we are able to understand the burden that Connie has to carry as being branded their mom’s “favourite daughter” after finally winning over that title from Jessica.

Moreosver, the Chen’s façade of a “well-off Asian family” begins to crumble as Louis’s suspicion that the Miata car was second-hand becomes true when a call from the police office reveals that their family is actually in debt. As the episode ends on a sad note as the Chan family leaves, Jessica jokingly tells Connie “By the way, your hair looks terrible” while in reality the subtext translates it to “Mom wasn’t the only one hurt by you moving away.” As this scene draws inspiration from a conventional sibling rivalry full of half-hearted jokes, the audience can more easily relate to the complex rivalrous, yet compassionate relationship that Asian siblings and families overall have. The show wraps up this idea nicely as it reminds the audience that “We learned that just like O.J., people aren’t always what they seem.”

A Colorful View of American Culture – Or Not?

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.

Note here all the busy patterns and colorful nature of the attire worn by the other moms


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.

The Huang family had to learn to accept their culture like this man loves himself


Fresh off the Boat episode 4 review, Success, Success, and… Perms!

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.

Curls = Power, this is another, albeit humorous, ‘theme’ that is explained to the audience. Chinese. Love. Curls. (apparently)

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.

Fresh off the Boat – Authenticity at its Finest

The first five episodes of “Fresh off the Boat” exude a charm that (in my opinion) can be sourced from the writing. Simply put, I found that the appeal of “Fresh off the Boat” lies in the uniqueness and authenticity of its writing. The story is unique because it defies the expectations set by the title. The family’s struggle isn’t with moving to America from Taiwan; it’s with moving to Orlando, Florida from their previous residence in Chinatown, Washington DC, where they are no longer surrounded by their cultural bubble.

How did the writers come up with such an authentic story? “Fresh off the Boat” is based on the autobiography of the same name by guess who: the current writer and producer of the show, Eddie Huang. Huang is the primary writer for the first season, which centers mostly on his own struggles with fitting in with the white kids at his school. The show also has the secondary plot of his father’s struggle with running his restaurant, “Cattleman’s Ranch Steakhouse,” a real restaurant. The episodes are narrated by the real Huang, who starts off each episode with the premise of the plots and concludes with the lessons each character learned. “Fresh off the Boat” likely pulled this format from “The Goldbergs (2013)” another ABC comedy show based on the childhood of the producer/writer. Having the real protagonist narrate the show is a critical aspect because it contributes to this authenticity. These are the things experienced by Eddie, told by Eddie himself.

The real Eddie Huang

Because the show is only twenty-two minutes long, the writers cleverly use plot devices to save time and propel the plot. There isn’t much silence – moments where a character isn’t speaking are filled with the narrator explaining something. Backstories are often delivered via flashbacks from Chinatown, the Huangs’ old hometown. These devices not only create a rich story that provides insight into the characters’ thoughts but are also time efficient to provide as much important info needed as possible.

Perhaps the most authentic element of “Fresh off the Boat” are the plights of Eddie. The show focuses on challenges that are specific but relatable to most Asians (at least to me). Whether it was Eddie wanting Lunchables so he could fit in with the other kids, or his mom making him study, I saw myself in Eddie, despite not looking like him or having the same character traits. I understood what he felt, which is something I haven’t gotten from any other TV show. “Fresh off the Boat’s” writing is fantastic because (as of now), it sparingly uses creative license and focuses on the real stories that young Eddie faced. As a result, it has a unique story and clever humor that largely steers away from solely using cheap Asian stereotypes for laughs. Using his life story, Eddie Huang has written a charming tale that comments on the struggles of fitting in in America.

Eddie explaining why he needs Lunchables (S1E1)

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