Asian Americans who have been screaming for diversity in the media for as long as I’ve been alive will finally get a big dose of it when Fresh Off the Boat premiers next television season.
It’s been just about a week since ABC announced it would pick up the series as a mid-season replacement next year.
We’ve barely had time to celebrate, yet already there’s grumblings that the name of the show is offensive, that FOB doesn’t speak to them, and that creator Eddie Huang is poking fun of immigrants.
We all want the perfect Asian American show, but the bottom line, there’s no such thing.
Bill Cosby wasn’t the perfect African American show either. But it certainly was groundbreaking and its positive portrayal of a black family did much for that community. That’s what I’m hoping Fresh Off the Boat will be for Asian Americans.
We are a not a monolithic community. No family ever depicted on TV will ever represent the Asian American experience in its entirety.
Let’s remember this show is based on Huang’s memoirs about growing up as a Taiwanese American family in Florida. The family he’s calling FOB is his own. No body elses. If he wants to call his family a bunch of FOBs, that’s his prerogative.
He says it with pride. It’s an affirmation of where he comes from and who he is.
I happen to be an ABC, an American born Chinese. I freely tell people I’m a jook sing, or hollow bamboo. There’s a lot of cultural traditions in the Chinese culture I’m either not aware of or choose not to follow. There are other traditions I follow with pride. I’ve taken what traditions I do follow and merged that with those from the American culture. That’s why I’m Chinese American.
That’s my experience. Let Eddie Huang write about his in peace. Let’s not kill the show before it even gets on the air.