“Fresh Off The Boat” is ABC’s brand new sitcom based on chef and food personality Eddie Huang’s childhood. The show is the second ever network program to feature an Asian-American family after All-American Girl aired one season in 1994.
ABC scheduled the first two episodes of the series on Wednesday night, coming before and after an episode of Modern Family.
The Huangs are a Taiwanese family who move to Orlando, Fla. in 1995 from Washington D.C. as Eddie’s father, Louis (Randall Park), has bought into the idea of the American Dream.
This move forces his wife Jessica (Constance Wu) and his three sons to acclimate to a new life in the suburbs.
Eddie is an 11-year-old boy who relates to the musical genre of rap/hip-hop and is always shown onscreen wearing shirts that feature the biggest rap stars during that generation.
“If you were an outsider, hip-hop was your anthem,” said the real-life Eddie Huang, who narrates the show.
Louis owns a wild west themed steakhouse that struggles to lasso customers into the restaurant and this does not sit well with his ambitious wife.
One reason why “Fresh Off The Boat” is one-of-a-kind is that many of the show’s subplots are relatable to viewers who grew up in Asian homes and encountered similar circumstances unique to the culture.
Eddie feels left out when the other students at school alienate him from the cafeteria because of the smell of his mother’s homemade cooking. This leads to Eddie bringing Lunchables to school to fit in with the other kids.
Another subject that was touched on was the importance of obtaining good grades. Fearing that the school curriculum is not challenging her sons, Jessica forces extra education on her boys after school. This obviously does not sit well with Eddie who would rather be playing outside.
The serious issue of racism was also addressed in the pilot. A fellow student remarks with a racial obscenity when there is a conflict between the two.
The characters’ accents onscreen is a minor hindrance because it is not identifiable and the parents speak with perfect grammar, which is understandable as listening to broken English every episode might be tiresome.
The last few months have been monumental for Park, who seems to be inching toward his peak as an entertainer. He played a major role in the controversial film “The Interview” which was released last December and is now starring on his television show. It is nice to see this success after playing minor parts in various television series including NBC’s “The Office.”
Wu is a relatively unknown actress, but that might change after “Fresh Off The Boat’s” first season.
She is a scene-stealer and does an excellent job in her role as the mother/wife. She delivers some hilarious lines, like when she finds out one of her sons is lactose intolerant, she quips “his body is rejecting white culture, which makes me kind of proud.”
“Fresh Off The Boat’s” first two episodes started off the series nicely displaying some potential for the future. This could be Park’s breakout role and skyrocket the careers of his castmates as well.
4 out of 5 stars.