If there’s one thing that can be said about Thanksgiving is that it brings families together, for better or for worse. While it’s a great opportunity to kick it with relatives you haven’t seen in a while, such a gathering also sets up for the worst of the grudges and other possible family dilemmas to resurface. In this week’s episode of Fresh Off the Boat, “Huangsgiving,” we see Jessica’s desire to outdo her attention-seeking sister come out, as the Huang family assembles to prepare for their first Thanksgiving in the Sunshine State.
Normally it’s Jessica’s sister Connie who plays host to Thanksgiving. However, this time around, their mother formally announces during her traditional 5:30 AM phone call that it’s Jessica and her family who have been given the honor. Unfortunately, despite having preparations set as far as what food to prepare and what additional people to invite, things begin to fall apart quickly.
Upon Connie’s family’s arrival the day before Thanksgiving, Connie is quick to announce how she’s having issues with her marriage to her husband Steve. Despite Jessica not buying her pity party, Louis offers him the couch to sleep on for the night. However, Steve convinces Louis to join him for “a little drink” and he finds himself lying outside the house the next morning, with the ultimate of hangovers and a half-eaten burrito on his chest. Jessica naturally assumes the drinking was a strategy for taking advantage of the Huang family.
The chaos continues throughout the day , including supposed ready-to-cook Cornish hens being delivered live, a raw turkey in the oven that Louis forgot to turn on, stingy and sour cranberries, and Louis gets knocked out during a friendly game of football. Nothing goes according to plan (including Steve’s attempts to win back Connie). This is ABC however, so everything turns out alright in the end for the Huangs in an (almost) heartwarming fashion.
This episode had a number of great callbacks to moments from the previous season. Jessica’s brief phone call with Connie, complete with passive-aggressive subtitles, was a great nod at season one episode, “Success Perm.” Also returning from that episode were the two grandmas being badasses together again, as well as Eddie struggling to keep up with his cousin Justin; whose taste in music is “like chasing the wind.”
I did find the return of Jessica’s gay ex-boyfriend Oscar (in tow with his new NPR-loving boyfriend no less) a little out of place, though it’s explained that he’s a favorite of Jessica’s mother and being used to sway her approval. Honestly, even if it wasn’t a big part of the story, how many people here would actually invite their exes to their Thanksgiving feast?
Much like the organized chaos of actual Thanksgivings, there was no official B plot in this episode; just a bunch of smaller vignettes, supporting the main storyline of Jessica and Louis putting together the best Huangsgiving ever. I personally liked how the episode was able to carry itself with one primary storyline all the way through and it’s a testament to the strength of the characters that it worked out so well. This bodes well for future “special” episodes. On the downside though, we had less time to spend with some of the other characters, like the kids. Yes, Emery and Evan were frustrated that Honey was not taking their table decorations seriously, and Eddie and Justin put their musical differences aside to download pictures of sexy girls (or a sensible Tracy Chapman) on the Internet, but their stories were more on the periphery to the main plot.
The second holiday episode of Fresh Off the Boat was a success, especially following the news that two more episodes have been added to its season’s line-up.
Please note that the next episode of Fresh Off the Boat won’t be until Tuesday December 1st.
Featured image courtesy of ABC