Asian representation in Hollywood and Western television has always been lacking. When Asian actors are cast, they’re usually secondary characters, shadows of “white” leads. In other cases, Asian characters and concepts are whitewashed such as Netflix's Death Note and the live-action remake of Ghost in The Shell. In fact, Fresh Off the Boat or FOTB is only the second Asian American family to get a sitcom since 1994’s short-lived All-American Girl.
ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat is an adaptation of Eddie Huang’s book memoir with the same name. Set in the '90s, it documents the struggle of a Taiwanese immigrant family fitting in from Chinatown in Washington, D.C. to suburban Orlando, Florida. It centers on hip-hop-loving Eddie, raised by an immigrant father who is obsessed with all things American and an immigrant mother who is often bewildered by white culture. The family tries to live the American dream while still maintaining their cultural identity and sense of family.
Now that the show is on its fourth season, it’s clear that the real star of the show is the family matriarch Jessica Huang played by Constance Wu. Wu was instantly praised as the breakout star of the comedy season for her interpretation of the no-nonsense, pragmatic mom of three.
FOTB doesn’t just embrace Asian stereotypes; it also manages to break them. Asian superstitions, bargaining skills, and a deep love for karaoke are some of the things that the series plays with. The show gives people a deeper understanding of Asian culture, and assures audiences that this is just the beginning of seeing – hopefully – more diversified characters in Western media.
Watch the trailer from FOTB’s first season below:
Have you seen the latest episode of FOTB? Share your thoughts by commenting here or tagging us on Instagram and Facebook @iamclaireph.