It’s not unusual for an Asian household to be multi-generational. While it varies from household to household, living with extended family is a lot more common in Asian American families. Having three generations living under one roof can be pretty hectic; especially when members of different generations are either trying to help another out, or are butting heads. In this week’s episode of Fresh Off the Boat, we get a little taste of both.
Jessica is in desperate need of a loan in order to strengthen her career as a real estate agent by going into house flipping. Conveniently, Grandma Huang’s late boyfriend (who, for some reason, everyone knew about except for her) left money for her in his will. Seeing an opportunity to get the money she needs, Jessica – who’s always had stiff relationship with her mother-in-law – attempts to get on her good side. Not one to be fooled, Grandma lays down some harsh truths about Jessica’s attitude that causes her to stop and re-evaluate her motives and relationship with her.
Meanwhile, the Fall Ball at Eddie’s school is coming up, and Louis is more psyched for his eldest’s first school dance than Eddie himself. Having never been to a school dance himself, all he knows about them are from re-watching the John Hughes classic, Pretty in Pink, over and over again, back when he worked at a New Jersey pizza savers factory with Jeremy Lin (er, I mean, Chau). However, when he sees how ill prepared Eddie and his friends are for the dance (cue his horrified expression as they demonstrate their dance to Shaggy’s “Boombastic”), Louis takes matters into his own hands as he helps the boys get ready.
I think it’s safe to say that this was one of my favorite episodes so far this season, and while there are several reasons that come to mind, the main aspect I enjoyed was really the character development exhibited in the episode.
Grandma Huang has always been a fan favorite with her funny one-liners and just generally being awesome. In this episode however, we began to see and learn more about her, and that especially goes for the scene where she calls Jessica out on her scheme to get her money. It’s a genuinely interesting direction the episode took with her, though I have to say that her remark about white people being the cruelest race went a little too far, even for her.
I got to see this episode screened in advance at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum’s Hella Asians on TV event last week. During the panel discussion afterwards, comedian Jenny Yang pointed out that the scene between Jessica and Grandma Huang proved just how revolutionary Fresh Off the Boat is as a TV show starring an Asian American family. She discussed how incredible it was to see a conversation on an American sitcom conducted entirely in Mandarin – and that the one Mandarin line where subtitles didn’t show up for was when Grandma calls out Jessica on being cold-hearted. That is surely something you hardly ever see otherwise from other family sitcoms.
The other character that I felt got to develop more this episode was Eddie. After encountering Allison (the flute-playing girl from the end of the second episode), he developed a new crush on her. While he’s eager to pursue her, his insecurities show when he reveals to Louis how he doesn’t want to go through heartbreak again. It’s a sign that he’s growing up, and it’s a clever storyline to follow as we continue to watch Eddie transition into adolescence.
Overall, it was a fun episode of Fresh Off the Boat that continued its streak of NBA guest stars with a cameo from Jeremy Lin, as well as its ongoing effective 90’s throwbacks (remember frosted tips anyone?). Also, congratulations to the cast and crew of Fresh Off the Boat, for it has recently been announced that the show has been given a full season order!
Please note that Fresh Off the Boat will not be on next Tuesday, but be sure to tune in the week after that.
Featured image courtesy of ABC