A new ABC show is stirring a lot of controversy over its portrayal of Asian American chef Eddie Huang’s memoir “Fresh Off the Boat”
The show chronicles Huang’s early life in a predominantly white neighborhood, balancing his relationship with his Asian background.
This isn’t the first time an Asian American family has been showcased on network television.
The last sitcom, “All-American Girl”—also on ABC—starred Margaret Cho and was canceled after one season due to low ratings.
Like all shows featuring distinct stereotypes, the freshmen series received backlash with some on social media deeming it racist and insensitive.
“#FreshOffTheBoat appears to be more racist than just about anything I’ve seen in a long time,” said Twitter user Lara.
Most the people complaining about the show’s content aren’t of Asian ethnicity.
To say the least, I was excited for the ABC comedy.
For years, I’ve seen sitcoms and shows featuring a predominantly white casts. It didn’t bother me, but I did want to see variety, as well as characters I could relate to more.
And so I write this in the nicest-way possible without having to be censored in an editorial setting: Thanks for the concern but we don’t need you to defend our honor. Lighten up. Seriously.
“Fresh Off the Boat” is hilarious and does an excellent job showcasing some of the struggles some — take note, I stress the word “some” — Asian Americans face in mainstream society.
“Fresh Off the Boat” is narrated by Huang. The production team includes people of Asian ethnicity.
It’s not as if ABC decided to create the show without consulting Huang and threw out ideas to depict Asian stereotypes.
Had they pursued the project with that mindset, this would be a different story.
I didn’t find any of the content offensive and thank goodness, I wasn’t the only one.
Popular YouTube channel Wong Fu Productions praised the show and urged viewers to watch the sitcom in a recent Facebook post.
“I know that this is just one step for the [Asian American] community to make greater strides so I think if we come together and support this and give it a chance, it could only mean good things,” said Wong Fu filmmaker Wesley Chan.
Maybe it’s an Asian thing — this based on my personal observation for years — but we aren’t easily offended.
I appreciated how the show touched upon many of these issues without being too serious.
The constant struggle between balancing ones’ own ethnic culture and another was one of the main components of the show I enjoyed watching.
Anecdotes featured in the pilot and subsequent episode resembled some of my experiences as a fellow Asian American.
For me, the most memorable anecdote was when the mother, Jessica — which I can say is a typical Asian name — wants to enroll her children into Chinese Learning School but the school her children attend doesn’t offer the program.
Jessica subsequently creates an accelerated program for her children.
Instead of playing basketball and video games with neighbors after school, the children are forced to study.
Just watching this scene unfold made me laugh because my mother did the same thing to me and my sisters when we were in elementary school — math and science, no less — albeit less strict than portrayed.
The Asian American stereotype, for example, doesn’t depict me accurately: I’m horrible at math and science — let alone pursue a career in any of the aforementioned fields — but proficient in English and writing. I don’t always have straight A’s and I always need help — and ask when needed — and I’m not wealthy.
While stereotyping isn’t a new concept in Hollywood and the media, we shouldn’t let those stereotypes define us.
Instead, we should define who we want to be in society.