I hold a great appreciation for episode 12, season 1 of Fresh Off the Boat. This episode showed Louis and Jessica volunteering at Eddie, Emery, and Evan’s schools because of budget cuts. I want to take a closer look particularly on Jessica’s role in this episode. She had to help with Emery and Evan’s school play which looked pretty bad. There wasn’t a plot line, they had kids wearing random costumes, kids running around, and kids saying random lines.
Jessica talked about Asian-Americans in the media and how they are typically the sidekick or the nerdy friend. When she rewrote the play, she was basically saying there is no use and hope pursuing such a profession. I would have to say that this is a pretty spot on representation of Asian parents who expect their children to pursue a higher education and attain a stable job. That is how it is for my family. However, because these are Asian-American actors who are obviously making it in the acting world, in a sense they are deconstructing what it means to be Asian-American. They break down that stereotype that all Asians study in order to pursue a career for financial stability.
Speaking of stereotypes, I think this article by Jeff Yang (Hudson Yang’s father) about the Fresh Off the Boat Television Critics Association panel adds more to this conversation. Because Asian-Americans are not yet strongly represented in the media, by real Asian-Americans and real representations, the questions at this panel and the conversation that went down, just did not feel right. The reporters obviously did not know what kind of questions to ask the panel to really emphasize how important this show is for Asian-Americans. Honestly, even the first question that started off this panel as mentioned in the article was, “‘I love the Asian culture. And I was just talking about the chopsticks, and I just love all that. Will I get to see that, or will it be more Americanized?'” This is like me walking into a party of mostly non-Asians and the first thing they say to me after we greet each other is either, “Oh, hey are you Filipino?” or “Lemme guess, you’re Filipino right?” or something of the sort. This isn’t much of a stereotype, but it does bother me that people start off talking to me about my ethnic background. It makes me feel like all they see is my race and do not bother to start off the conversation with something normal. Anyway, to end that tangent, people just do not know how to have a conversation about this show and that is all the more reason why this show is significant in Asian-American representation. Keep the conversation afloat in this boat!