Looking at the pilot of the show, “Fresh Off the Boat” the characters are introduced to an entirely new environment, Orlando, Florida, and must all adapt to the suburban lifestyle all while attempting to blend in with a largely white community. Furthermore, Eddie has to try to fit the expectations set for him despite considering himself the “Black Sheep” of the family. The opening scene opens with Eddie trying on expensive clothes and his mom promptly denying him said clothes. This is when we are introduced to our narrator, the real life Eddie Huang, as he explains his frustration at his mother’s lack of understanding of department stores. Within the first minute of the show, the narrator’s lines already establish one of the key conflicts that recurs throughout the show: Eddie’s understanding and acceptance of American culture vs. his family’s vexation and resistance towards it.
(Eddie tries on some posh clothes that don’t quite fit into his mother’s price range for shopping.)
The next key scene immediately follows as Eddie flashes back to his road trip as he moved from Washington DC to Orlando, Florida. In this scene, the narrator quickly, but blatantly describes the characters in the family and his relationship towards them. He establishes that his father bought into the American dream, that his mother was hard on him, and that both were worried about him, after which, he quickly dismisses the other members of his family. This dismissive words of the narrator helps to reveal Eddie’s sense of separation from his family and his feelings of being an outsider. As the episode progresses, the narration becomes less frequent and the character’s dialogue begins to take more significance in the episode. A key distinction to notice in the episode is the dialogue of the white characters being illogical yet patronizing whereas the dialogue of the Huang family being straightforward and personal. During most scenes with white characters interacting with Eddie the characters will struggle to speak to him due to the fact that they expect him to speak little or no English. Whether it be tourists in DC who slowly as for directions to the “W H I T E H O U S E” or teachers who do not know how to pronounce his name, Eddie establishes the general lack of understanding towards Taiwanese culture in specific, and Asian cultures in general.
The episode wraps up with an epic showdown as Eddie’s parents duke it out with the principal of his middle school. After discovering that Eddie started a fight because a student called him a “chink” Louis Huang berates the principal following with Jessica accusing the principal of ignoring the bullying problem in his school. This scene ultimately reveals Eddie’s parents true feelings towards their son and their understanding of how difficult it is to fit into the whitewashed town of Orlando.