Approximately a thousand people attended Tuesday’s Fresh Off The Boat live viewing event at nightclub, The Circle. The anticipated hyped-up, overly commented Facebook event turned the midtown nightclub into an enormous family living room, with the ambiance of a Super Bowl party of sorts if you will. Some fortunate ones found seats, others stood throughout the evening or crammed along the entrance ways.
The large crowd came to rally their support for the new ABC-TV situation comedy about a young boy and his Asian American family trying to fit into mainstream America. One difference about this show is that it is written from an Asian American perspective which gives the show an authentic portrayal.
At the event were Eddie Huang, NYC based chef and restauranteur whose book the show is based on with the same name, Hudson Yang who plays young Eddie and Randall Park as Eddie’s father. Jeff Yang, Wall St. columnist and Melvin Mar, executive producer were included. Yang is Hudson’s real father.
The two half hour episodes aired live at 8:30pm and 9:30pm with a din of laughter from the audience. At 9pm, Richard Liu of MSNBC, moderated a cast talk-back discussion with Huang, Mar and Hudson. Shortly into the discussion Huang poked fun at Park for being “fresh out of Peter Lugers” as he showed up tardy from his dinner during the discussion.
“It was really cool to see myself on the screen in front of so many people,” Hudson replied to Liu on how he felt seeing himself on the jumbo screen. Hudson was seen earlier running around with some friends and younger relatives in the club.
Liu asked Mar, “When you started this entire process, were you looking and looking for something like this.”
“Even long before I met Eddie, I thought, ‘Would they ever let us put a Chinese guy on television? Then Eddie wrote this amazing book and it started it all. I’ve been looking for it all of my career,” Mar replied.
Park was asked, “What has it been like, going through this process for you?”
“It’s been crazy. It’s been one surprise after another. I never thought that it would be pushed out into the public. I never thought the network would be behind it making billboards and commercials. It’s been really amazing, “ Park said.
Huang added, “One of the interesting things representing Asian Americans is that there is so much pressure. ‘Is it going to be represented properly? Is it going to be our story?’ And, I feel like everybody needs to tell their story so that we have a whole landscape of this, because one person can’t represent all of us, we can only do it as a group.”
During the community talk-back, Yang asked actress Erin Quill ,”From these two episodes, what will you remember?” She responded, “I always remember Asians families love harder than anybody else and they also torture you beyond measure. So I felt the love and the torture (haha) and that’s what made it very Chinese for me.”
Greg Pak, an artist at Marvel DC, referred to the movie The Great Wall by Peter Wang as his first time seeing an Asian American family on the big screen. The 1986 film is about a man taking his Asian American family to visit China and cultural differences that clash.
“And now thirty years later this is happening. It’s amazing. I love the show and I feel it’s very important, ” Pak concluded.
I found both episodes funny. Although I didn’t identify with all that Huang experienced, I understood the situation the Huang household was going through because I had friends that lived through it.
When I was a young Asian American, I was a latchkey kid from fourth grade on. My parents worked hard and were absent most of the day. I just tried to behave so I wouldn’t start a rap sheet. The similarities that Huang and I did have were having hard working immigrant parents. We knew they loved us, even though they didn’t understand us at times. I recall making my mom buy me Adidas superstars with red stripes because that was the “in” footwear at the time. That situation was similar to young Eddie in one of the episodes where he makes his mom buy him lunchables, because that was the “in” thing to eat.
My mom was reluctant, but she bought the Adidas superstars for me. That’s love.
Fresh Off The Boat kicks off its debut on Tuesday, February 10 on ABC at 8pm. I hope it does well.