Just Bananas About: Week of 2/6/15

I have been waiting for the Asian-American sitcom called Fresh Off the Boat for months now and my patience was finally rewarded this week with a back-to-back premiere.

ABC decided to split up the premiere by having The Middle and Modern Family leading into the two episodes.  Officially, the show is slotted for Tuesday nights and next week’s schedule seems to indicate that we can catch back-to-back new episodes starting at 8pm EST/7pm Central.  It’s one of the first Asian-American shows on a broadcast network in this millennia with the first being Margaret Cho’s All American Girl.  I eagerly watched All American Girl because as an Asian-American you were hungry for television that depicted your experiences.  Unfortunately, All American Girl bombed in a fiery mess because the network had their hands all over the show and honestly it made it unrelatable.  More than 20 years later, FOB certainly made me laugh.

The story is based on Chef Eddie Huang’s memoir, who is the owner of Baohaus.  I remember trekking to their original location in LES in the dead of summer just to try it out.  Mmm… steamed buns and taro fries.  Eddie Huang provides the narration for the Young Eddie (Hudson Yang) and his experiences growing up as the only Asian family in Orlando, FL.  Hudson Yang is adorable as the troublemaker and rebel.  I love that he quotes Notorious B.I.G. and Nas to explain his adolescent experience.

The first two episodes covered a few basics about the Asian-American experience.  Sure, the overall story is about the family’s hardships as they try to fit in.  How much do you embrace your Asian side versus your American side and it always felt like you were making the choice or the choice was being made for you by your mom.  The unique thing about the Asian-American experience extends from the American culture itself.  Growing up and identifying yourself as a second generation immigrants meant that sometimes there’s was a cultural (and even a language) barrier between you and your parents.

I love seeing the look of horror on the white kids as Eddie brings out the lunch his mom packed for him or the difference of opinions about grades and schooling.  I’ve certainly experienced that.  Especially the Lunchables part.

Sure, education is important in Asia but kids there want to go to after-school because all their friends are there.  I’ve spent summers in classrooms with all the other Asian kids doing my Kumon or studying for my S.A.T’s or college aptitude tests when I was only in elementary school when my friends weren’t even thinking about it yet.

However, what I loved the most is that they are a dysfunctional but normal family.  They don’t tell each other that they love them but the love is clearly there.

My favorite character is Jessica Huang (Constance Wu).  Constance Wu is hilarious as the overbearing but practical mother.  She doesn’t hover unless it involves money or grades.  Also, I loved in the scene when Eddie gets pulled into the principal’s office for fighting that she unexpectedly stands up for him.

As for Eddie’s dad, Louis (Randall Park), he’s like that dad who has big dreams but also one of the kids in his wife’s eyes.  I think his character is where the balance comes from which is a nice dynamic for the show.  Randall Park has had quite a rollercoaster couple of months from playing Kim Jong Un in The Interview to playing a lovable dad on FOB. I did love his interview with George Stephanopoulos on GMA this week and how he could relate his childhood with that of the young Eddie.

The rating did pretty well the first time around and I hope that the show continues to provide laughter and do well.  It’s about time that we get to see this perspective of the American Dream.

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