Fresh Off the Boat caps off its midseason finale with its very first Christmas special, “The Real Santa.” In this week’s episode viewers are treated to new perspectives to typical holiday shenanigans, including the search for the perfect gift and maintaining the illusion of Santa Claus for children still young enough to believe in him, all with a Huang-twist.
The holidays have arrived as we’re introduced to Jessica’s miniature holiday town, or as she calls “Jessica Town.” As she admires her set-up, she vents her concerns to Louis about her dismay over the portrayal of Santa Claus as a blue-collared, overweight Christmas icon. In usual Jessica fashion, she takes matters into her own hands; first by bringing on Honey’s husband to pose as an Ivy League-educated, physics-crazed Santa Claus at the holiday party at Cattleman’s Ranch. However, when Mitch accidentally breaks the illusion, Jessica rewrites Santa’s story even further by telling her son Evan that Santa is Chinese, much to Louis’ disapproval. All is well until Evan speaks out on how Santa should be present at his school’s assembly, rather than the “politically correct” gray blob mascot that replaces him, and everyone in the room cheers him on up until his comment about Santa being Chinese. The lies have caught up with Jessica, as she must find a solution to Evan’s confusion once and for all.
From my point of view, Jessica’s storyline is a polarizing one. Her disapproval of Santa lacking a degree from a university, specifically from the engineering field, is perpetuating a damaging stereotype. Yes, people may laugh and only consider the comical story of Jessica taking the legend of Santa too seriously, but with the model minority myth still strongly believed in society today, the direction she went with rewriting Santa’s story only reinforces it, especially when she later tells Evan that he is Chinese.
On the other hand, having Jessica say that Santa is Chinese also sheds light on a subject that’s not as thoroughly discussed. Why does Santa always have to be white? While one may argue that it’s because he hails from European folklore, considering the number of people of different ethnicities who celebrate Christmas, it’s wise to consider the possibility that it doesn’t always take a white man to be Santa (as Jessica proves near the end of the episode). Through this lie, she provides an opportunity for Evan to see how someone of his race can bring holiday cheer to children all over the world.
Meanwhile, Emery has put together a wonderful gift for Jessica for Christmas by creating his own replica of the bakery missing from Jessica Town. However, when Honey presents her a bakery that she found, the poor boy it stooped as he doesn’t know what to give to her with only days left until Christmas. He turns to Eddie, who doesn’t have a gift yet for Jessica, for guidance. Much to Emery’s dismay Eddie suggests to keeps it chill by taking “action with inaction.” Eddie eventually churns out a poem that he suggests can be from both of them and Emery makes it look presentable by rewriting it on a scroll. However, when he realizes that the poem wasn’t Eddie’s handy work but rather the lyrics to Tupac Shakur’s “Dear Mama,” Emery is at a roadblock again over what to give his mom. Fortunately for him, and as predicted by Eddie, it all works out in the end.
It’s uncommon to see just Emery and Eddie together in a storyline for a whole episode. It was hilarious to see just how opposite their personalities are as their ideologies collided over strategizing gift ideas for Jessica. My only complaint was that due to their plot not being as big as Jessica’s, we didn’t really get to see too much of them together. Hopefully we’ll get a larger story with them in the future, for actors Hudson Yang and Forrest Wheeler work really well together.
I was also psyched to see that Eddie is a Tupac fan. From the minute we were introduced to him in the first season, I was always curious as to whether or not he was, given his love for rap music. I was able to pick up on Eddie’s admiration for Tupac the minute he read “his” poem and not later when Emery saw Grandma watching the “Dear Mama” music video.
This episode of Fresh Off the Boat nicely concludes the show’s first full year on the air. The second season continues when the next episode airs on February 2, 2016. Until then, Happy Holidays everyone!
Cover Image: ABC/Kelsey McNeal