Ever since I stumbled upon the teaser trailers of “Fresh Off the Boat” last year, I was excited. An Asian American family comedy on one of the major US TV channels? Okay, I have not been in the US that long, but this one is different.
You’ve got white people family comedy. You’ve got black people family comedy. You’ve got hispanic family comedy. And FINALLY, we’ve got Asian (well, East Asian and then some, at least) family comedy to look forward to.
I watched the two-part season premiere last Wednesday and I was partly laughing my ass off and partly could not relate.
Of course, I could not relate completely. What did I expect?
First, I am not part of that wave of the immigrants, who grew up in the US in the 90’s. I am still fresh off the boat, being less than two years young in this country, but I came in an age when someone like me is not as exotic as we were then. Expats / immigrants are now a moderately accepted norm in America (But it seriously should’ve been since most people here came from somewhere else – except for the Native Americans. That’s a topic to be discussed elsewhere and at another time?). Also to note is that I came in an age when people could actually know more about my roots on the Internet, versus just on often sensationalized and agenda pushing American news or word of mouth.
Second, I am Filipino. That’s the thing with being one. Filipinos are Asian, but a strange amalgamation of Malay and East Asian tradition with very strong anchor on Spanish and American culture. There were parts, like when Eddie’s parents expected straight A grades for their sons, that I could not relate at all. Indeed, like the elder Huangs, a good education is believed to be a key to success. Hence, my parents worked hard to send us to “better” schools that would provide us with a better opportunities. I was expected to have decent grades (to continue to enjoy competitive swimming was the bribe), but my parents would never go ballistic over an 80/100 mark on my exam or on the report card.
But even though I cannot empathize with each and every situation of the Huang family (thus far), I still would recommend watching the show, especially if you are Asian in a very non-Asian country like the US. It shows the delicate struggle of how we, expats, balance holding on to our roots and trying to assimilate into our new “homes”, our host countries.
Have you caught the first two episodes of “Fresh Off the Boat” last week? What do you think of it?
Watch “Fresh Off the Boat” every Tuesdays, 8PM ET/PM 7C on your local ABC.