A guest post by Jefe:
“Fresh Off the Boat” (2015– ) is a US television sitcom that features an Asian American main cast, the first since “All American Girl” (1994) starring Margaret Cho. It is pretty much “The Wonder Years” with Asian faces. Critics have largely praised the show.
It is inspired by a book, “Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir” (2013) by Eddie Huang, a Taiwanese American lawyer and restauranteur.
Premise: Eddie Huang’s family moves from Washington, DC’s Chinatown to suburban Orlando, Florida in the mid 1990s to run a steakhouse. The family struggles with assimilation in their new environment while Eddie finds solace in hip hop.
The Huangs find themselves living in a largely white suburban community, running a restaurant that serves a largely white clientele, and attending largely white public schools. As a family, they are different from most of the people around them. But within the family, there is difference too. Louis is a nice-guy optimist; Jessica is a realist surrounded by an endless litany of American absurdities. Eddie’s brothers seem to blend in seamlessly, and Eddie—well, Eddie is an Asian American kid, born to Asian immigrant parents, who is so alienated by the dominant white culture that the only way he can relate to it is through hip-hop and other signifiers of black culture. “If you’re an outsider,” an older Eddie voice-overs, “hip-hop is your anthem.”
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Anybody see Fresh Off the Boat last night?
In the trailer here I have one big complaint. The part where the mom says “If you get lost, go with a white family – you will be safe there.” Not funny at all. Not one bit. Actually extremely offensive. Both because it portrays the mom as being racially biased against people of color (racist) and it portrays the mom as not knowing actual crime statistics (ignorant).
I can appreciate humor from ignorant things that people do, but not when the ignorance is combined with racism.
On another note, it’s not really funny that they portray the mom as not knowing what the word ‘sample’ means. She clearly knows English. She just has an accent. Having an accent does not mean that a person is ignorant of vocabulary. I can let that joke slide, but not the racist one. Racism isn’t funny to me. It’s stomach churning.