Not so Fresh off the Boat

Upon first hearing about Fresh Off the Boat, I had high hopes for the show and viewed it as a monumental example of Asian Americans finally getting represented in American TV pop culture as main characters, not as stereotypes, but as a “normal” family.  As shown in many of the clips and examples in class, Asian characters in American pop culture and television were caricatures of Asian American stereotypes; the buck-toothed tricksters, spineless nerds & tiger moms.  While Fresh off the Boat still ended up exemplifying the normalization of Asian Americans, I was disappointed due to the show’s being a run-through of these stereotypes that upheld the misconceptions about Asian Americans that are enforced by such.  Creator Eddie Huang’s displeasure with the show for the aforementioned reasons shows that Fresh off the Boat is a classic case of a good idea that was reimagined in a safe, predictable manner resulting in a product that does nothing to push the boundaries of American TV other than the gimmick that was the show’s selling point (featuring Asian American leads) .

Nonetheless, Fresh off the Boat was by no means the worst show nor was it an insignificant step for Asian American pop culture in the mainstream media.  Having a set of Asian American parents that kiss on-screen was particularly important, as Asian American men are often desexualized in American media (with Asian American women being hypersexualized) Furthermore, an Asian American sitcom would have never been made 10 years ago, which is a testament to mainstream culture’s growing acceptance of Asian Americans as a whole.

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