June 15, 2016
While we love undeniably addictive American sitcoms, they aren’t always entirely relatable – notable sitcoms we know today such as New Girl, The Big Bang Theory and Friends more often than not have plotlines centred on the lives of Americans in America. We admit that’s part of the thrill of watching these American sitcoms – getting some form of escapism from our sunny little island via our small screens. But when Fresh off the Boat premiered more than a year ago, we fought past our initial scepticism about the show and tuned it, and it’s turned out to be a refreshing change from the usual and indeed, a year later, the show’s got us hooked. Despite the controversies regarding racist portrayals, it’s managed to do what comedies are supposed to do – make us laugh.
Fresh off the Boat is actually an adaptation of celebrity chef Eddie Huang’s written memoirs, which goes by the same name. Following a Taiwanese family of six who recently relocated from Chinatown in Washington D.C. to Orlando, we get a peek into the humorous lives of the Huangs as they attempt to navigate their new environment. Here, we’ve rounded up all the times that, as Asians, we related to most to the show.
1. The pains of having a difficult name
Those of you with difficult names, you’ll definitely hate any self-introductions that always make you feel so small inside when everybody’s got to hear your name at least thrice before they finally get it. Even if we are already familiar with obscure names, they’re often hard to get on the first try, made worse when it’s one that’s constantly being mispronounced. Cue the cruel nicknames that will haunt you for the rest of your life.
2. (Exaggerated) Asian stereotypes
Enter the Tiger Mum, one of the best known Asian stereotypes of an excessively strict mother, prizing her child’s academic achievements above everything else. Jessica Huang, the show’s matriarch, definitely fits the bill: feisty, protective and strict, Jessica rules her home with an iron fist. We are all too familiar with the contrasting stereotypes of authoritarian Asian parents as opposed to Western ones, who seem to be more laid back, and many of us have often been on the receiving end of our own mother’s exceedingly high expectations and angry gazes (especially when we fail to clean our rooms), so Fresh off the Boat will definitely ring a bell.
And let’s be honest – we all know that one superstitious person, whether is it our parents/grandparents or friends; suddenly, all those times when we were yelled at for a harmless nail-cutting session at night or for pointing at the moon came screaming back to us. All in all, while the show does in fact portray exaggerations of Asian stereotypes, it’s so far done rather tastefully, and all in the name of good humour and comedy.
3. Familiar feelings
Jessica is all of us when at a crowded place (basically, everywhere in Singapore).
Even if you won’t admit that you furiously hunt for free samples in the supermarket; you can’t deny how your senses are heightened when you hear the word “free”.
4. Habits we just don’t get
We will never understand the important ritual of fighting over the bill. Is it a matter of pride? Embarrassment? Courtesy? It differs from time to time. But one’s thing for sure – we never did quite understood the big commotion that our relatives made whenever the dinner bill was due.
5. Finally! Chinese New Year!
Let’s all take a moment to appreciate this rare occurrence on an American TV show. We are all used to watching popular American holidays such as Thanksgivings, St Patrick’s Day, Fourth of July and Halloween’s usual trick-or-treating on the TV, but the portrayal of a Chinese holiday almost never occurs. It was a refreshing and endearing moment to watch the Huang family celebrate Chinese New Year in an American environment, but still maintaining their traditions and customs despite their obscurity there. We can only imagine how delighted the Asian Americans must have felt when this episode was screened.
6. The nostalgic throwback
Set in the 1990s, Fresh off the Boat is definitely a bittersweet throwback for all you 90s kids out there who still reminisce about the glorious past before technology fully took over our lives. Appreciate all the old school computers, video games, old cars that appear in the episodes, and relive those fond memories of fighting over the TV remote, or having absolutely zero privacy when talking on your home phone.
Images courtesy of Fresh Off The Boat’s Facebook page, facebook.com/FreshOffTheBoatABC.