ABC’s new TV series, “Fresh Off The Boat”, targeting Asian Americans, coming Fall 2014 ABC Television Network Watch Video Trailer below
It can’t be denied that there is a lack of diversity in American sitcoms. Many revolve around white — or mostly white — characters and, currently, none focus on an Asian-Americans. In fact, the last comedy to follow a wholly Asian-American family was Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl, which ran for one season in 1994. However, ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat will premiere on the network fall 2014 and it seems to have a lot of potential.
First off, have you seen the trailer for Fresh Off the Boat? Although watching the trailers and promos for all the new network shows that will debut this fall may make many people quite jaded, Fresh Off the Boat stood out from the rest because it was actually hilarious. Secondly, the show seems to be a very genuine look into the life of an Asian-American family in the ‘90s. It looks this way because the show is based on the memoir of the same name by Eddie Huang. So, the story of Fresh Off the Boat is rooted in reality, managing to be entertaining and genuine at the same time.
If you’re doubtful of how American sitcoms can manage authenticity, take a look at the trailer for ABC’s other upcoming comedy, Christela. While it’s heartening to see ABC trying to diversify the families featured on the network’s comedies, there is a stark contrast between Christela and Fresh Off the Boat. While Christela seems to draw all its humor from tired stereotypes, Fresh Off the Boat is more about combating stereotypes by giving viewers a more honest look into the featured family.
It may be important for networks to diversify, especially within their sitcom families, but it’s also important to create quality television, which is entirely possible to do with non-white characters without relying on exhausted jokes based in horrible stereotypes. Although it may be a bit premature to say so, Fresh Off the Boat seems to be a promising example of how networks can diversify and make fantastic shows.
Starring: Randall Park | Constance Wu | Hudson Yang | Forrest Wheeler | Ian Chen
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A Person View by Randall Park himself…
It happened! A pilot that I worked on got picked up to be a series!
Now, I’ve done several of these during the course of my career, and none have made it past the pilot stage. But after over a decade of hard work in this business, it’s finally happened. I will be a regular character on a nationally televised show. But this is not just any show. When it makes its debut next year, ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat will be the first Asian American family sitcom to air on network television in 20 years, since Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl. For me, coming from an Asian American studies background, this is like a wet dream. But it’s also a lot of pressure.
People are hungry to see themselves represented on television, and people rightfully want to be represented properly. But the Asian American community is not monolithic, and proper representation means different things to different people. For example, there has been a great deal of online debate about whether or not the title Fresh Off The Boat is offensive. The answer isn’t so clear-cut: it’s yes for some, no for others. Again, members of our community do not all think alike. But with that said, this particular show is based on an amazing book bearing the same title by Eddie Huang. It is his memoir, it is his title, and I, for one, am all for it.
I do, however, have my own issues with the show: first of all, the fact that I’m on it. To have a Korean American actor play the father of a Taiwanese-Chinese American family is an issue that is not lost on me. I’ve even expressed my concerns repeatedly about this to Eddie himself. And every time, he has shown me nothing but love and support, assuring me that I’m the only one for this job. Whether true or not, I take that to heart because, again, it is his story.
Then, there’s the issue of having to speak with an accent. In an ideal world, I would never have to play a character with an accent. But this is a character based on a real person. So it’s something that I have to honor and try to perfect as the series moves forward.
Playing an immigrant character on a television comedy also has its own inherent risks: Is the audience laughing because the joke is funny or because I’m speaking with an accent? Are they laughing because I’m a human being in a funny situation or because they think I’m a funny-talking immigrant? I am constantly analyzing through this lens, almost to the point of paranoia.
Geesh, white actors never have to go through this sh-t.
But issues aside, I am proud to be a part of this amazing show. Getting a television series on the air is an incredible feat. Getting one with no bankable name stars in today’s television climate is damn near impossible. Getting one about an Asian American family on the air is a frickin’ miracle. Just know that. And regardless of how Fresh Off the Boat does ratings-wise, I believe it’s a step toward more varied representation on the small and big screens. Hopefully, it inspires others to tell their own stories and translate them to a TV show, as Eddie did. It is possible. And we shouldn’t have to wait another 20 years for it to happen again.
Source: Korean Culture