In this episode of Fresh Off the Boat, while Eddie and his friends are trying to figure out their middle school dating life, the more important part of the show is Louis’ storyline. In this episode, Louis gets the opportunity to go on Good Morning Orlando, a morning news talk show because the news anchors loved his impressions. Jessica urges him to make sure he promotes the restaurant, which Louis does. But much to Jessica’s dismay, he makes jokes and does his impressions. She later reprimands him exclaiming that Asians don’t get a lot of opportunities to be on television and he wasted his making jokes. She demands he go back on the show and right his “wrongs” and fixing the fact that he was “too funny.” He later goes on and is much more serious, which is still the wrong thing. According to Jessica, he must present himself as intelligent, but can also be funny — just not too funny, political — but not too political, interesting, pleasant and tall. Louis retorts with the fact that one person cannot be everything — they can and should only be themselves. From this storyline, I took away a couple of things.
The first thing I took away from this relates to the stereotype that we have discussed in class about Asians not being able to make fun of themselves and being too serious. By having Louis go back and make sure they don’t think he is too funny and just a jokester, Jessica is proving this generalization to be true to an extent. At the same time, however, this whole story line makes a point how because of unequal opportunity in American society, those with less opportunity cannot waste opportunities like this and must present themselves in a way to gain respect, which can in turn mean being more serious and business-like. Asian people are “more serious” because they have less room to prove themselves as “worthy members of society” and capable of the same success and prosperity as their white counterparts.
The second thing I took away from this focuses on Louis’ point of how one person cannot be everything. This TV show has received a lot of criticism for different things. On one hand it is supposed to be a family sit come along the coming of age lines as we follow Eddie and his family as he goes through a growing period in his life. On the other hand, the show tackles lots of issues regarding race, such as this one. The show gets criticized for going too far one direction — it’s not talking about race enough or it’s stereotyping/generalizing too much. The show, like Louis, cannot be everything.