Fresh Off the Boat: S2 : E5 : Miracle on Dead Street
by Remoy Philip
Eddie Huang come Back! Please Eddie! Please!
It’s not that Fresh Off the Boat has lost its funny. Actually it’s probably gotten more funny. Evan and Emory bring in the laughs on the regular. Hudson Yang, the young actor who plays Eddie, now actually looks like he’s comfortable acting and not just reciting his lines. The relationship between the parentals Louis and Jessica has never been more sweet and endearing. It would seem on all fronts, Fresh Off the Boat is succeeding. It would seem.
However, at the core of this show, being that it’s based off Eddie Huang’s impressive and all important memoir of the same name, and was supposed to be loosely based off of Huang’s life growing up in the 90s, the show is failing. The show was agreed upon by Huang to serve as a platform for Asian-Americans to see themselves–no matter how awkward, or painful, or true– with their American experiences right there on network TV. This was to be a true American Situational Comedy.
And in season 1, it somewhat worked. Eddie Huang stayed on board and even narrated the episodes. But comes season 2, Eddie has jumped ship and the show has lost its course.
No more apparent than in Episode 5. A Halloween episode that serves all too easily it’s Americanness - being all about an American holiday - would have been an impressive opportunity for this show to tackle cultural issues specific to the Asian American diasporic struggle.
But it didn’t. Rather it took an atypical family and packaged them as average suburban and as candy sweet as possible. It posed a story where the Asian Americans weren’t different. Nor did they have to face anything near an honest immigrant American conflict. Instead, they rallied in uninteresting costumes over eggs in a minivan at a house in a subdivision. Does it get any more American than that?
Don’t get me wrong, it was a funny episode. And it’s nice to watch and laugh at these episodes. But as the episodes get funnier, which it looks like they will, the disparity between hoped-for-potential and sitcom-reality will become more and more apparent. And in the end, you can’t help but ask if we really need just another American sitcom.