Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Thoughts + Link Love

I almost wasn't going to do a "thoughts" post this week (I normally do them on Saturdays) because I didn't feel that I had anything to talk about.  But then I started watching the new sitcom Fresh Off the Boat and it got me thinking!

If you haven't heard of Fresh Off the Boat, it airs at 8pm EST on Tuesdays on ABC.  It's inspired by Eddie Huang's memoir of the same name, which is about his experiences growing up as a Taiwanese kid in Orlando, Florida.  His mom, Jessica (played by Constance Wu), is a borderline stereotypical Asian mom who stresses good grades and obedience, but there is a lot more to her than just that.  His dad, Louis (played by Randall Park), is the more gentle of the two and moved the family to Orlando after he started a cowboy-themed restaurant.

I had been meaning to catch this show, but it airs at the same time as Parks and Recreation, which takes precedence for me.  Luckily, it's available on Hulu Plus, so I started watching it this weekend.  I love it!  Constance Wu is hilarious as Jessica, and I can relate a lot to what's going on.  I'm Korean and was adopted at 5 months old by a white family, so I don't know what it's like to grow up in an Asian household, but I do know what it's like to be an Asian kid in a mostly white community.  In the pilot, Eddie gets made fun of by the popular kids because of the food his mom packed him ("Ying Ming's eating worms!"), and he ends up eating outside with the janitor.

Jessica with the neighborhood moms / Nicole Wilder, ABC
The character I relate to most, though, is Jessica.  She tries her best to fit in with the neighborhood moms, all of which are very clique-y and judgmental.  In the most recent episode I watched ("The Shunning"), Jessica makes a tofu dish to share with the women and they all pass it around, making passive-aggressive comments, and no one eats it.  They patronize her by saying something along the lines of, "But we appreciate that you took the time to cook it!"  This struck a chord with me because, as a kid, I went through a very similar experience.  Some of the popular girls lived in my neighborhood growing up, and they would occasionally invite me to hang out with them.  Of course, being a child who wanted to fit in and be "cool," I would always say yes.  Often they would do what a lot of kids do and make fun of me because my family didn't have as much money as theirs, or they'd make me feel like I didn't quite fit into their social circle.  And frankly, I didn't.  They kept me around to make themselves feel superior, just like the women in the show did to Jessica.

Now, I realize that this show is a sitcom and not everything needs to be analyzed in such an in-depth way, but what I love about it is that it brings the experiences of an Asian family to primetime, something that hasn't been around for a very long time (the last time an Asian-American sitcom was on TV was back in 1994, Margaret Cho's All American Girl).  These are situations that I can relate to, and I hope that TV audiences embrace this show.  It tackles race issues, but is still really funny.

Have you watched Fresh Off the Boat?  I'm curious to hear what you think of it!

Now, for some link love....

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