Few TV shows have created as much fervor within the Asian American community as Fresh Off the Boat. Between the coordinated hashtags, back and forth pre-release debates and the constant scrutiny on the smallest of details, it’s easy to forget that this is a network sitcom. Based on the memoir of chef Eddie Huang, Fresh Off the Boat has morphed into a call for change and symbol of pride for the Asian American community.
I had the opportunity to attend the live community screening of the show at The Circle in New York. The nightclub-turned-theater easily hit its 1000-person max capacity with stars Hudson Yang, Eddie Huang and Randall Park mixed in with community sponsors and excited fans. I also attended a talkback for the fifth episode which included a panel featuring Father-of-actor Jeff Yang, Gothamist Co-founder Jen Chung, Comedian Jen Kwok and Entertainment Weekly Staff Writer Ray Rahman. These viewing parties extended beyond the boundaries of New York, cropping up in every city that had some sort of Asian American presence. For a Netflix-in-bed TV viewer, you could say that I’ve been swept into the hype of things too. It was impressive that so many people were excited to watch a show, but even more so that Asian American journalists, celebrities, artists and anyone else invested in the Asian American community were passionately fighting for the show.
It’s easy to see why. As the first Asian American-centered network show in 20 years, Fresh Off the Boat was a breath of fresh air. The show was met with a shower of praise soon after debuting. People were enamored with how cute Forrest Wheeler and Ian Chen were as Eddie’s brothers, Emery and Evan. Critics quickly cited Constance Wu, who plays Eddie’s mother, as a breakout star. The packed crowd at The Circle cheered and booed as little Eddie navigated a white-dominated neighborhood that was all too familiar for the attendees. Continue reading →
Orange is the New Black: Season 2
Now Streaming On Netflix
Jenji Kohan framework tends to be one in which an upper middle class attractive white woman who has been living a fairly sheltered life must contend with her world falling apart. In ‘Weeds” it’s the untimely death of Nancy Botwin’s husband leaving Nancy to figure out how to maintain her suburban lifestyle and raise her two kids. In OITHB, Piper Chapman, is engaged to be married and the expensive soap and her best friend Polly make is about hit Barney’s when her past rears it’s ugly head in the shape of a post-college lesbian relationship with an international drug trafficker. Just as Piper is about to marry a man and secure a conventional life, her ex-lover Alex gives her up and she is sentenced to a year in a minimum security prison.
After these inciting incident these women found themselves in the underbelly of society (for Nancy Botwin it’s the world of drug dealing; for Piper Chapman it’s prison.) The white washed polite world they grew up in still shows its mark as when Nancy Botwin bundles her weed in cutesy little packaging. Similarly, Chapman instead of throwing down with the prison chef, who she unwittingly insulted, she makes her a special lotion out of hot peppers to soothe her back pains. After being pushed out from the white upper crust and having to hustle to survive both Kohan’s main characters find strength they never knew they had, forming real connections with people who have never lived in their economic bracket, and like Walter White find a thrill in their new identities. They find the little badass inside their white girl body, and not only do these women survive, but most of the time thrive. Continue reading →