the show that seeks to alter the power of authority within the institutions.
Earlier this week, I finished watching Season 1 of Fresh off the Boat. A show long overdue but truthfully needed in the beautiful country of Amerikkka, it is one of the only shows that features a predominantly API (Asian Pacific Islander) cast told exclusively through their lens (though production of any national sitcom is questionable). Proceeding Margaret Cho’s All American Girl, FOB showers on the 20-year drought in a revolutionary way, turning many heads and giving the voice to the unspoken API immigrant community.
The new approach of the series is unprecendented because of the new lens of perspective in which the show is being perceived in. From actually having a face and experience that you can identify with, FOB turns the tide away from contemporary Amerikkkan culture. Even though Eddie Huang carried sentiments and concerns that his memoir would be whitewashed, I am happy that the final product didn’t steer too far off what the show was trying to portray.
So why do we need it now more than ever?
With the recent presidential elections for 2016, a lot of race-related issues has recently re-surfaced thanks to our wonderful presidential candidate, Donald Trumplestiltsken. From the topics regarding the refugee crisis in Syria to even the immigration relations with Mexico, Trump’s nativist rhetoric seems to undermine the American Dream by restricting it from the minorities. Adding onto the controversial conversations, Trump’s nativist agenda additionally materializes in a recent press conference where he mentions the rights of “anchor babies” as well as mocking the Chinese as he ignorantly mimics their accents, two gravely impactful issues that surround the API community. He challenges the citizenship status of children who were born on US soil while belittling their parents. Later on, he mocks the Chinese economy by poking fun at how broken their English is…
I think much of the reason as to why these discussions targeting and scapegoating minorities is easily accepted by the general populations is because of the normalization of tokenizing communities of color. By being objectified in pop culture as the hyper-stereotyped individuals that we are usually perceived to be, the sweeping generalizations we are always associated with become our identity. With the API individual identity in mind, much of the roles that API actors/actresses are cast often demasculate men and hypersexualize women. API characters are often always playing the “nerd’ character and expected to serve as the “sidekick”. As a result, these stereotypes are often perpetuated and exploited to demonize minorities as part of the “otherness”.
What FOB aims to address is to tell the realities of the immigrant assimilation experience through a non-white lens. Robert Rorke for The New York Post views the television series as a problematic show, condemning “the exaggerated and predictable weirdness of all white people”, a eurocentric point-of-view that he believes will lose the white audience by the second episode.
But you know what Robert? It’s fine if you or any other bigoted white person doesn’t want to watch FOB! Fresh Off the Boat is geared to garner support for the audience of color that stopped watching the whitewashed sitcoms that poked fun of our cultures anyway! Now that we have something that many API folks can identify with, FOB breaks barriers and reintroduces diversity back onto the television screen. We don’t need your white man tears feeling victimized because you suddenly don’t see the usual white cis-gender male cast you’re used to seeing.
Sorry, looks like I’m gonna be sipping on my chamomile while watching Season 2.