May 19, 2014

Asians on TV: 'Fresh Off the Boat' and the American Dream

Fresh Off the Boat ABC TV

We're taking over... television. For the first time in twenty years, an Asian-American family will centre a network television show next year for mid-season. ABC has ordered Fresh Off the Boat (formerly titled Far East Orlando) to series, based on the life and autobiography of the same name by celebrity chef and food personality/entrepreneur Eddie Huang.

It's the '90s and 12-year-old, hip-hop loving Eddie (Hudson Yang) just moved to suburban Orlando from DC's Chinatown with his parents (Randall Park and Constance Wu). It’s culture shock for his immigrant family in this comedy about pursuing the American Dream. Fresh Off the Boat is based on Chef Eddie Huang's memoir Fresh Off the Boat.

Fresh Off the Boat stars Randall Park as Louis, Constance Wu as Jessica, Hudson Yang as Eddie, Forrest Wheeler as Emery and Ian Chen as Evan.

Fresh Off the Boat is executive produced and written by Nahnatchka Khan and executive produced by Jake Kasdan for 20th Century Fox Television.

The half-hour single-camera, coming-of-age comedy follows Eddie and his Taiwanese immigrant family navigating through culture shock and American suburban life. I'm digging the entire premise and idea of fitting in, being obsessed with American pop culture coupled with the pressures of keeping your own heritage and identity though family. I hope America agrees.

Fresh Off the Boat ABC TV

I still remember watching All-American Girl starring Margaret Cho (the first and last show to feature an Asian-American family) in 1994 with my mother and marvelling at the novelty of seeing people who somewhat looked like me for the first time on television (this is probably when I learned anything about Korea and Koreans). I'm only four years younger than Huang and found a lot of the situations and jokes identifiable to growing up Asian in a non-Asian and caucasian dominated environment.

I'm a big fan of Randall Park and his comedy work in many things including Veep (and as the Asian Jim in one scene on The Office). He was recently filming in Vancouver, shooting the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy, The Interview, playing Kim Jong-Un no less. I wonder if it'll be noticeable that he's a Korean playing a Taiwanese-Chinese character. However, the standout seems to be Constance Wu judging by the trailer for the pilot episode (below). She's flat out hilarious. Moms are the lynchpin of most Asian families and she could easily come off as a stereotype especially with an ESL accent, but she more than pulls it off with some fine deadpan delivery.

I'm very hopeful and optimistic about the show and its pedigree coming from Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 creator/showrunner Nahnatchak Khan (herself, a product of Iranian-American immigrants). The immigrant story of cultures merging is particularly universal when framed around the pursuit of the American Dream. Here's hoping it has a good series run. Yay diversity.

Update: Fresh Off the Boat premieres February 4th at 8pm on ABC.

More | Angry Asian Man / BuzzFeedVice / VoxWSJ

0 reactions:

Post a Comment