After Math: Random Thoughts On "Fresh Off The Boat" (AKA The Same But Different)

Monday, February 09, 2015

Some of my general non-coherent thoughts on ABC's FOB:

What's The Reason Not To Watch? There really is none. To see portions of our community mirrored in Prime Time - the cultural relevance of the show alone compels me to watch. The fact that I think it's funny and smart and has endearing characters should keep me going until Season 2 (because the cultural relevance alone can only keep it going for so long). Sure, it's early...

It Can't Be Everything To Everyone. Like anything else I can't look to FOB as the end all be all of everything in regard to reflection. 3rd/4th/5th gens, mixed race, transracial adoptees - this isn't their families - and that's okay because we are a diverse group and community who passionately talks about how we aren't joined at the hip. We have a lot of stories to tell just like everyone else (but it does go both ways too - see below).

Tiger Mommy. I loved Constance Wu and her transformation into the lock down laser focused mom, and I think in a lot of ways her character played in the gray versus all or nothing - which I think is important and central to her character not becoming a cardboard cutout stereotype. Is it possible that it does go the other way? Absolutely. So they have to be careful or they could turn off viewers.

He's Got A Girlfriend? One of the story lines I liked (mostly) was that Eddie's brother Emery slipped in to his new surroundings fairly easy and I liked to see the juxtaposition of how it's not always the same for every kid who's Asian American - because it can be different depending on age, school, etc. At the same time I can't help but feel they also glossed over some of the racial and xenophobic bias on those fronts as well (because we know it's not all.good.all.the.time and I'm sure little Emery had some issues fitting in didn't he?).

Oh Randall. I think he's perfect for this role and that's all I really have to say right now.

It's Still The Immigrant We're Still New To The Country Story. As much as I laughed and loved the two episodes and found mirrors from my own immigrant upbringing and my life as an Asian American (both as a kid and adult) even though in slightly different times - it's still the immigrant 1st & 2nd gen stories. From that view, when people tune in - if this is their taste of APIA-ness (which is also their own fault) - for that portion (versus the parts of the show that dealt with race in a great way) some of it is still the same - and I do wish we'd have an Asian American family on TV that was more like My Wife and Kids - because we do have 3rd/4th/5th gens, and we are just as much a piece of the American fabric as anyone else - embedded for many many years. I mean I love my immigrant stories - but I also want to see more and I think as much as it's great to see FOB on TV and what that means for APIA actors and people behind the scenes - it's okay to push for more. Again, FOB can't be everything to everyone - but with other APIA actors out there in diverse roles - I think we have to keep on pushing for that parity (and that's also one of the reasons I liked Selfie).

Black Americans Call Asian Americans Chink Too? While I hope they delve into this more, I'm glad they also showed how racial bias comes from all sides for Asian Americans because it starts that dialogue on Prime Time in another way about how complicated it can be for Asian Americans - being part of a community of color who shares that inequity with other groups of color, but also still being the other, outside of the Black and White communities who are linked together because of history. It's both push and pull.

I'm Pulling For A Few Seasons. I'll be crossing my fingers and hoping that I can buy seasons 1-4 in a few years.