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Thursday, May 14, 2015

'Fresh Off the Boat:' Nicely Fresh Off the Bubble


Image result for fresh off the boat images

An awesome response by a cast member of the ABC sitcom "Fresh Off the Boat" on Unreal TV promoting the renewal of that series following a few weeks on the bubble planted the seed for a post on this good show; a more recent experience regarding suffering through not turning on the air conditioning during a brief but intense period of heat solidified the decision for these musings.

"Boat" is based on the memoirs of real-life celebrity chef Eddie Huang, who is a rap obsessed tween schemer in the mid-90s setting of the show. The pilot has the Chinese-American Huang family moving from more diverse Washington, D.C. to Orlando. The motive of the move is father Louis Huang, played by a wonderful stoic Randall Park, pursuing the American dream in the form of owning a barbecue restaurant that is a blatant rip-off of a successful change.

The following clip, courtesy of You Tube, of a scene from the "Boat" pilot nicely illustrates the blend of sitcom staples and kind and gentle ethnic humor in the show.



The show has made a star of Constance Wu, who plays highly assertive and disciplined mother Jessica Huang. No doubt exists that Jessica wears the pants in the Huang household.

The combination of Jessica having a strong personality and being a suburban mom wonderfully leads to her becoming a real estate agent under hilarious circumstances. A story line that has a Chinese superstition hindering an effort to sell a house is one of numerous plots that nicely combine the suburban and Asian elements of the series. One can only hope that the "Boat" writers unleash Jessica on Disney World in the second season; that may lead to Americans seeing a grown mouse cry for the first time.

The above reference to air conditioning relates to an episode in which financial concerns prompt Jessica to refuse to allow the family to turn on the central air despite oppressive Orlando heat and humidity. A spoiler is that Jessica later authorizing setting the system on low prompts hilariously excessive excitement.

The season finale, which easily falls in the "hilarious" category, is another notable one. This offering about angst regarding the family losing its Chinese identity would have served equally well as a series finale in nice contrast to other "bubble" shows ending on a cliffhanger.

Further, "Boat" aptly occupies the 8:00 p.m. time slot on ABC that was the slot of the '70s sitcom set in the '50s "Happy Days" on that network 40 years ago. Both series are shows with episodes that range from cute and amusing to hilarious largely without resorting to sexual humor that is highly inappropriate during the "family hour."

Having three boys provides a vibe of the '90s Tim Allen ABC sitcom "Home Improvement," which a very vague memory suggests also aired at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesdays during its run. One difference is that the two older "Home" boys would team up against their younger brother in contrast to polite and diligent pre-teens Evan and Emery facing off against slacker Eddie.

A hilarious "Boat" episode in which all three boys compete in a science fair nicely illustrates the sibling dynamics. The lesson in this is that he who has chicken pox rules the roost.

All of this adds up to a show that depicts a true modern family in which the young Asian child is not a highly unlikable brat.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Fresh" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,