A Chinese-American family moving from Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown to the Orlando suburbs to maintain a cowboy restaurant in 1995 sounds like a lot—and it is. But in ABC’s new sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, the Huang family is trying to manage it all. Based off the memoir of the same name by restauranteur and chef Eddie Huang, FOTB follows a younger version of Eddie (played by Hudson Yang), an 11-year-old rap fiend who’s trying to adjust to his new school.
Eddie’s the black sheep of the family – and it’s apparent – but that seems to come with the territory in a family full of colorful characters. First there’s his strict, penny-pinching mother, Jessica (played by Constance Wu), his super positive and pleasing father, Louis (played by Randall Park), and his two perfect younger brothers, Evan and Emery (played by Ian Chen and Forrest Wheeler). The show mirrors Chris Rock’s Everybody Hates Chris a bit. Like Rock, an older Huang narrates the show, while a younger Eddie desperately wants to fit into his new school. The major difference is that Eddie has a bit more attitude than Chris, and doesn’t take no for an answer.
But the show’s faceless supporting character is hip-hop. Being that the show takes place in 1995, a golden year for the genre, songs like Notorious B.I.G.‘s “Big Poppa” and ODB‘s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” serve as Eddie’s big brothers that he looks up to and tries to emulate. The premiere episode opens with MC Breed and DF’s “No Future In Frontin,” with Eddie decked out in chains and Shaq’s Orlando Magic garb. From the jump, he’s “fresh as hell” and wants to show he’s his own person.
Apart from Eddie, who uses his charm to get through things in his new neighborhood, there’s his mom, Jessica who really holds the family together. Jessica has to find the balance between being a mom new to the suburbs while still remaining true to her Chinese roots. In the second episode, she thought school was too easy for her children because they all came home with straight A’s. To ensure her kids got real schoolwork, she he became their “Chinese Learning Center” teacher after school.
FOTB is well done and worth watching. It gives another look at people of color on network television in a relatable way.
Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays on ABC at 8 p.m.
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