First Impressions

Fresh Off the Boat

Aired on: ABC

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            I had been seeing previews for the new ABC comedy Fresh Off the Boat for weeks now and found them so funny, I was looking forward to its special premiere on Wednesday, February 4, 2015.  Featuring two episodes that were cleverly interspersed between hit shows The Middle and Modern Family, Fresh Off the Boat was guaranteed to get the viewers it needed, but would those viewers be staying?

The show stars Randall Park as  Louis Huang, a Taiwanese man who uproots his family of six, moving from Washington, D.C. to Florida so they can live the American Dream.  Louis wants to stop working for his wife's family and start his own business - a western-themed steakhouse.  Unfortunately, not everyone in the family is happy with the move.  His wife, Jessica (Constance Wu), was happy with her home in Washington, D.C., near her family, schools she liked and near friends.  She is not certain that her husband can make this restaurant thing work and has no problem telling him so.

Oldest son Eddie (Hudson Yang) is not thrilled with the move either.  He enjoys the American culture, but feels that he is being uprooted unfairly.  His embracement of the American culture and love for hip-hop music confuses Jessica who wants him to embrace their cultural roots.  Middle son Emery (Forrest Wheeler) and youngest son Evan (Ian Chang) are of a go-with-the-flow sort and have a wait and see attitude.  Grandma Huang (Lucille Soong) is along for the ride and very supportive of Eddie, who feels as if he doesn't really fit in anywhere.

As the first episode opens, we find Eddie struggling to fit in at school, Jessica struggling to fit in with the community and Louis struggling to make his business a success.  Eddie ends up getting into a fight at his new school, but is surprised when his parents come to his defense and he earns respect among the schoolmates who shunned him.  In the second episode, Jessica's micromanaging at the restaurant and her confusion with the over-the-top grades from Eddie, the son least likely to get such grades, drives Louis to suggest that she tutor them outside of school.  But Eddie soon learns the truth about why Louis is so high on home schooling and reveals all.

Based on a memoir by restaurateurchef, food personality and former lawyer Eddie Huang, who also narrates the series, Fresh Off the Boat is full of stereotypes and clichés.  But that's not to say that I didn't find the show funny.  I loved that this show, like The Goldbergs, was set in time period I knew and remembered well - the '90s.  This was a time when rap and hip-hop were powerful ways to express oneself musically, when perms were considered cool, Reebok pump sneakers were in fashion, so was rollerblading, and baggy pants and headbands were all the rage.  I remember these things well and often laugh at the fads I participated in, so this show offered up a bit of nostalgic humor for me.

The family itself is appealing.  Constance Wu often steals the scene with her hysterical comedic delivery (facial expressions and all) and the way she says just what she feels, but it is Hudson Yang's portrayal as Eddie that really had me rolling.  I loved getting a look at the world through Eddie's eyes and the narration added to Hudson Yang's actions really drove home the funny.

I can honestly say that once you watch Fresh Off the Boat, you will definitely want to come back for more.  I know I will be front and center in front of that television when it airs in its regular time slot on Tuesdays at 8pm EST.

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