Comedy, drama and family are common themes in today’s popular TV sitcoms. However, very few shows can perfectly combine these elements together. ABC’s new series “Fresh Off the Boat” does just that. Combining humor and conventional stereotypes, the show successfully depicts the culture clash in trying to achieve the American Dream, a highly relatable and unique theme for an American TV show.
“Fresh Off the Boat” debuted on Feb. 4 to an audience of around eight million and received captivated reviews, according to PBS NewsHour. Revolving around the memoir of Eddie Huang, a celebrity chef and restaurateur, the show’s format and narration is quite similar to “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Malcolm in the Middle.” The show is set in 1995 when Eddie and his family move to Orlando, Florida. Because it is based on real life experiences, many of the events in the show are engaging in Huang’s satirical depiction of his life. As the Huang family overcomes a handful of personal conflicts, such as opening an unsuccessful Western themed restaurant and Eddie starting his new school as the only Asian student, the characters stand out to viewers right off the bat. The series’ plot resonates with a universal Asian American experience.
All the aspects depicted in the show are very relatable and have been experienced in one way or another by most first generation Asian immigrants in America. The financial and social struggles the Huang family face in an all-white community and Eddie’s difficult journey to fit in emphasizes how culture shock can impact adolescence. The countless jabs of Asian stereotypes such as reserving expenses, competing with family members, academically pushing children and having “exotic” names combines humor with a dash of reality. These jabs are not blown out of proportion to borderline offense, but instead make the social culture of Asian families understandable.
According to The Atlantic, this is the first sitcom in 20 years that follows an Asian American family. “Fresh Off the Boat” is essentially inspiring a path for more Asian exposure in pop culture. It puts how it feels to be culturally different into perspective, allowing Asian-Americans to see themselves on the screen and for other audiences to experience a unique kind of television show. With its regular Tuesday night slot, “Fresh Off the Boat” is on its way to becoming one of the most authentic shows on TV in a while and it is encouraging to see that TV lineups are diversifying to meet greater audiences.