Challenge the Single Dimension

The recent episode of Fresh Off The Boat on ABC depicted a rather stark challenge to current conceptions of Asian Americans in the media. The show itself already challenges so many of the restrictions and stereotypes placed on Asian American actors, but this recent episode took it a step further. In this episode entitled, “Good Morning Orlando”, Louis goes on a morning talk show and initially (though being himself) plays into some of the Asian comedic stereotypes. His wife then implores him to go on the show again and present a different, more complex view of himself. He then returns to show and creates a serious persona that was meant to counteract his initial impression. However, it only creates an image that portrays him as extremely serious. These scenes display a much wider and more critical issue than what first meets the eye.

The problem, in media especially, seems to be that there is an unspoken opinion over Asian Americans that says they cannot be complex. This idea manifests itself in showing scenes were Asian Americans are only funny OR only serious. Apparently, they can’t be both. But what has been highlighted in this episode and then entirety of Fresh Off The Boat is that there needs to be a realization that Asian American actors and filmmakers are just as complex as everyone else. They have funny moments, they have serious moments, they have happy moments, and they have sad moments. I very much appreciate the very blunt address of these stereotypes in the most recent episode and it serves as a great reminder that Fresh Off The Boat is still on a mission to redefine Asian American stereotypes in the media.

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