I honestly had low expectations for “Fresh Off the Boat” before it premiered this past Wednesday. TV audiences haven’t seen an Asian-American family in the leading role for over 20 years, so “FOB” was pretty much a re-introduction to the mainstream. Because of this, the show wouldn’t have a lot of room with work with. “FOB” is under the watchful supervision of ABC (Disney), so most of the “cultural” elements would probably be subdued. ABC is trying to generate the largest audience possible for ad revenue, and it can’t have a show that alienates the majority (White America) with jokes and references that most people won’t get. “FOB” could have immense success with the Asian demographic, but this segment is way too small to keep the show on the air.
“FOB”’s trailer was released several months ago and I was initially disappointed. It was playing too much into the Asian stereotypes (including lame accents). Asian Americans get no spotlight or love in entertainment, and we finally get an opportunity to show the world another dimension to who we are, in contrast from the nerdy, suppressed, frail characters usually portrayed. If someone was going to do it, Eddie Huang would be the one. I’ve followed Huang’s rise as a media personality through his Vice series in addition to reading this memoirs, which inspired the show. Eddie is actually the only Asian American celebrity I can relate to. So when the trailer disappointed, it was a major letdown because I expected more. However over the last several weeks, Huang has been making is press rounds and revealed that he’s been pushing to have “FOB” made his way, battling it out with ABC’s decision makers. This brought back some confidence.
There was an electric vibe at the “FOB” premiere screening. Several hundred filled into Circle Nightclub, which is only a portion of the thousand or so waiting in line just to be part of a moment in entertainment history. Huang was in attendance with the “FOB” cast, and he gave a great talk on what this show meant for him. This show was only the beginning, as its suppose to kick open the door for other Asian Americans to tell their stories. “FOB” was just Huang’s. When the show finally aired, it was better than I thought it would be, and on that night, I thought we made progress as a culture.