For those of us who lived in the in an Asian-American/Asian-Canadian household in the nineties, we’ll find a whole collection of things to relate to in ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat. In this Episode 5, we see Eddie, who has thus far not been a particularly well-received character due to his sometimes overblown antics (recall him throwing coupons on Honey?), endeavoring once again to gain the favor of the cool, white kids. Everyone else will be going to a sleepover but Mama Huang quickly shuts down any notion that Eddie will be able to go as well in an exchange remarkably similar to the ones I had with my own mother as a child.
It seems that Eddie is to be forever condemned to the lower rungs of middle school pecking order because of his tiger mom. However, he circumvents this by lying to the other kids that he has a “dirty video” in order to get them to come over to his place instead. Of course, he doesn’t actually have one. Fortunately, the heavens take pity on him and drop one off at his house.
The dirty video in question is actually a sexual harassment tape used during a seminar, conducted by professional Dusty Nugget (played by Brett Gelman) at the Cattleman’s Ranch. Of course, this seminar was Jessica’s idea, further fulfilling a stereotype commonly applied to Asian women that they have too many worries and concerns.
In a surprising little twist, the sexual harassment video Eddie shows his friends ends up being well received. Perhaps a little too well received. The next day at school, all the other kids are sporting copies and imitating the things NOT to do in the video in an attempt to get girls. This leads to a school wide mandate that parents must have a little talk about the “birds and the bees” or rather, “flowers and watering cans” as the show puts it. The sex talk is something that all cultures will find relatable – it’s just as awkward between a white family as it is an Asian family. We finally see a touching, real moment between Eddie and his father. It is this real moment that finally allows Eddie to begin the climb up the social ladder at his school, not the alleged “dirty video.”
The episode contains a small side plot around the rest of the family but it is still nowhere near the level of development that these other characters could have. Grandmother Huang, as the most traditional member of the family, could have a greater role that further explores the culture clash as opposed to being relegated to be just the ‘cool grandma who can beat the kids at poker.’
Gradually, I’m beginning to develop connections with the family, especially with the ending scene where Jessica shows her son some tough love by ensuring that the stuffed animal he lost to his grandma in a poker game stays lost. Overall, the episode was an enjoyable one with its share of comedic moments and nineties nostalgia. I’m looking forward to see how the characters continue to grow as the season moves on.
Catch up on Fresh Off the Boat with our short analysis of episodes 1-4 here & watch on ABC Tuesdays at 8/7c.