Let me preface this first…
A.) I have a nasty habit of going off on tangents. I’m sorry.
B.) I am not Asian, nor do I pretend to understand any of the struggles Asians face in the U.S. – whether they were born here, came to the U.S. in 1975/87/01, or just got here 3 days ago.
My fiance, however, is. He moved to the United States from the Philippines as an adult, joined the U.S. military, and has been living his life stateside successfully. While I’m sure he’s experienced racism plenty of times, I have never witnessed any of it first hand in the almost 3 years we’ve been together. From what I understand, Filipinos are often considered lowest on the totem pole in the global Asian community because of their generally darker skin tones and other things (someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong in that assessment, please).
He also hasn’t read Eddie Huang’s memoir- he’s not much of a reader outside of manga, which is fine. He didn’t even know who Huang was until I mentioned the book, wanting him to read it, and then telling him about the show.
I came across Mr. Huang via a friend who’s sold a few freelance articles to Vice. He lives overseas (the dude bounces from country to country on an almost regular basis) and we share a love of food and talking about it (as in he asks me what to do with whatever he’s got and I tell him). He got me into Huang’s World on Youtube and I was instantly hooked. Eddie, while having juuuuuust a hint of douchebaggy vibe, was cool, laid back, with a real passion for food and travel. His videos were interesting.
Which of course led me to his book. I think I finished it in less than a week. I’m a very fast reader under no certain circumstances, but if I become really invested in a book, I tend to finish it much quicker than I normally would. Fresh off the Boat was a quick, interesting, and overall good read.
(Seriously. I’m a very fast reader. As a 3rd grade kid, I could easily finish off 2 Goosebumps books in an hour or less. On the Accelerated Reader scale, Goosebumps ranges from about 2.9 to 4.1 depending. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows? I can polish it off in 2 days no problem.)
Anyway. I found it fascinating. An Asian kid trying to figure out how to navigate a community that was mostly white & black kids while having a sometimes fucked up home life; who grows up to fall in love with food and write a book- all while harboring a love for hip hop (I grew up on a lot of the same music as Eddie, in spite of being from a very small town with very little ethnic diversity). I came to have more respect for him and his game.
The sitcom premiered and I was beyond happy for Mr. Huang. Here was a guy who came from kiiiiiiiiind of nothing, kind of fumbled through life falling into this business and that hustle and eventually settling on one thing, then boom! He’s got a successful restaurant, and is all over Youtube with a book and sitcom in his back pocket. The premiere of Fresh off the Boat wasn’t mind-blowingly hilarious (what show ever is?), but it was a good, solid start. Enough to keep the two of us interested & invested for the rest of the season.
I wasn’t just excited for Eddie. I was excited for something different on television. I was excited to finally see an Asian family featured on a sitcom. Which yes, I knew it was going to be. I was excited for the Asian community to finally have a face on prime network television (at the time of the premiere, I wasn’t aware that there have previously been 2 other sitcoms featuring an Asian cast, but didn’t make it past the first season).
Sounds weird coming from a white girl, right? lol … I’m not your average everyday white girl. Ask literally anyone who’s ever met me. Especially my fiance, who knows me better than anyone else does. I might be from a small town, and I’ve yet to step foot off of U.S. soil (there -was- this one time I went down to Sonoyta- just over the U.S./Mexico border- when I lived in Phoenix, but it’s a crazy and somewhat painful story), but I’ve lead a pretty fucking interesting life thus far and I continue to do so. I’m often told my life story should be a Lifetime movie (ha! Yeah. Right.).. My experiences, the things that I’ve gone through, and the people I’ve had the fortune and misfortune of having in my life are pretty crazy. And awesome. I’ve lived with a family of Mexicans- most of whom were illegal, and learned how hard it can be and is for them to scratch out a life here, learned their cooking techniques and recipes, loved their children and took care of them as if they were my own (I’m still very much close to a large part of this family. Those kids are still my sobrinos, their mom and Tía my hermanas, who I love dearly), and of course, partied just as hard as they did whenever there was cause for celebration. My child is 1/2 Mexican. As of now, I’ve lived in 4 different states (including my home state), 3 metropolitan/big cities (Nashville- where I call home, Phoenix, and now, New York Fucking City), & moved probably upwards of 30 times in my life with no signs of that number ever staying the same. My fiancé, as I said, is Filipino, and I’ve quickly developed a bigger love for Asian food in general aside from sushi / standard Japanese fare that’s served in most places and the”American Chinese” cuisine.. I’ve fallen in love with bulgogi & Korean BBQ (shout out to Galbi Ma Eul in Flushing!), learned how to roll lumpia and make Filipino foods like chicken adobo, tinola, and pancit molo, and have a sick obsession with vietnamese pho and the Thai spot that’s so ridiculously close to me it’s a wonder we haven’t gone broke eating there (Thai Kitchen by the Sea in Arverne). I have yet to eat soup dumplings, proper dim sum, or have banh mi, but it’s for sure on my list. While Mexican and Southern cuisines are what I’m best at making & are my first loves, Asian food has quickly found its spot in my heart and continues to grow the more I eat it. I also am a borderline intermediate Spanish speaker and working on learning Tagalog. You can often hear me mutter the phrase “Fucking white people” in spite of my own whiteness; many Sunday afternoons you’ll find me planted in front of the t.v. watching NASCAR and texting commentary back & forth with my dad. And I have a very obvious Southern accent. Yep. I’m not your average white girl.
See what I mean about the tangents?
Anywho. My fiance and I really enjoyed the entire first season of “FotB”. So I was shocked and disappointed to read that Eddie Huang himself pretty much hated the whole thing and the direction the network took the show.
Season 2 premiered, much to our delight. We’re really enjoying it. I think the writers and the cast are starting to fall into stride with things and are really starting to flesh out their characters and give them more depth. The episode when Jessica softens up and shows Eddie a little more love when he’s heartbroken over a girl was touching. I was so proud of her for being able to let her walls down and let go of her constant need to micromanage her family enough to actually speak to her son and help him get through what was a tough time for him.
I googled once more Eddie’s reaction to season 2 and wasn’t entirely surprised to see that he’d completely left the show. It was then that I realized that his voice overs were missing. It’s okay though. The show is just fine without your voice, Eddie.
Reading that really made me lose pretty much all respect I had for you, Eddie Huang.
Because here’s the thing… I understand the frustrations with the show not mirroring your life more than what you expected. And I understand that the show is widely seen as a televised version of a plate of Kung Pao Chicken.
But, you got a t.v. show Eddie. You put an Asian family on t.v. once more. And not only that, Fresh off the Boat was renewed for a second season- something neither of the other sitcoms featuring Asians achieved. It’s pretty fucking monumental.
And it’s pretty fucking lame, immature, and extremely bratty of you to get pissed off because the show isn’t what you wanted or thought it was going to be. How ungrateful can one person be? If I were you, and I acted like you did in this situation, best believe my dad would (not so) very kindly take my head off for me- and rightfully so.
The series was picked up by ABC. A company owned by Disney. That right there -screams- that the show was automatically going to be a light-hearted sitcom.
If you -really- wanted REAL Asian issues tackled in a REAL “Asian way” (for lack of better wording), why would you not have pitched for it to be a bit darker, more serious, and shop it to FX or FXX? Then you probably could’ve had free reign to do whatever the hell you wanted like Jim Jeffries and Legit (RIP, brilliant fucking show).
Fresh off the Boat may not be the saving grace (a label taken from another article about the same subject) for showcasing Asian-Americans and the struggles they face from day to day in the United States- or for even accurately portraying an Asian-American family. But Goddamnit, Eddie Huang, you put Asians on the t.v. map once more. Whether the success of the show is because of you, I highly doubt since you clearly weren’t invested in it after you filmed the pilot. But, the show, in its 2nd season, is just fine without you. I don’t miss your douchebag voice narrating each episode.
Look at this as a huge stepping stone for Asians and getting your problems heard. This show may not be what you wanted it to be, but it’s opened a door for so many more opportunities in the future – especially considering it’s made it past the first season.
Stop being a goddamn brat and grow up. You’re older than me, thiugh not by much. You should be thanking your lucky fucking stars that you’ve made this much headway for your cause and that someone took a chance on your book. By the way, how’d that paycheck feel for all of this?
I feel sorry for you. I genuinely hope to see Fresh off the Boat succeed far past season 2. And I hope that one day you’ll wake up and see exactly how big of an asshole you look right now.
I still have plans to hit up Bauhaus, though. And if you were to pen a cookbook, I’d probably buy & download it- much more because I have an addiction to cookbooks than it is because I was once one of your supporters.. But, you really look like a jerk in this situation and it sucks.