By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
The Asian American community is reacting with both sadness and appreciation in anticipation of the series finale of Fresh Off the Boat airing Friday night (February 21) at 8/7 Central on ABC.
16-year-old Hudson Yang who plays Eddie on the program debuted with the rest of the cast at the age of 11. The thought of life without the program is hitting him hard.
“It’s weird—it’s kind of like waking up and not knowing who you’re going to be next week! I know I’m going to miss it, I miss it already!” he told AsAmNews.
He isn’t the only one who will miss it.
“It’s really difficult knowing Fresh Off the Boat will leave the airwaves after Friday night,” said Guy Aoki, founding member of both the Media Action Network for Asian Americans and founding member of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition.
Aoki told AsAmNews he saw the pilot script back in 2014, a year before the program premiered. The network wanted APAMC’s feedback.
“Was the title of the show offensive? One of the characters uses a racial slur. Is that OK? I gave two pages of notes and all of the scenes that I felt didn’t work, were excised. When I saw the filmed pilot months ahead of its broadcast, I knew this was something I could get behind,” Aoki said.
Asians Americans took over social media the night FOTB premiered in February 2015. They held Twitter parties quoting from the script, applauding the performances and even shedding happy tears over the story line. The show network executives likely debuted nervously was trending.
“Fresh Off The Boat was a truly groundbreaking television series in several ways,” said Daniel Mayeda Chair, Asian Pacific American Media Coalition. “FOTB told a very specific and authentic story of Taiwanese American immigrants. And it was told from the perspective of Asian Americans, as reflected in the pilot episode when Eddie Huang, trying to fit in, asked his mother to take him to the market so he could buy “White people lunch” to take to school. Asian Americans had never seen such an unapologetic portrayal of ourselves on network TV and we reveled in it.”
The show also proved a national audience would watch a show starring and centered around an Asian American family with a predominantly Asian American cast.
According to Aoki, FOTB indexed at 100 percent among White audiences. In other words, 60 percent of the nation is White. 60 percent of FOTB’s audience was also White. Blacks indexed at 105%. Asian Americans also over indexed.
The show catapulted stars Constance Wu (Jessica Huang) and Randall Park (Louis Huang) into stardom. Wu went onto to star in Crazy Rich Asians and Hustlers. Park is seen frequently in both the Marvel and DC comic universe. Most recently he starred alongside Ali Wong in Always be My Maybe. He also made his directing debut for the series finale of Fresh Off the Boat.
Eight months after FOTB debut, ABC also premiered Dr. Ken starring Ken Jeong. Quantico, Andi Mack and Killing Eve would follow.
“I started at CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) in March 2015, right after Fresh off the Boat premiered, so the show has always been a clear demarcation for me,” Michelle K. Sugihara, CAPE Executive Director, said to AsAmNews. “It’s amazing how much has happened since then in terms of representation in media, but we still have further to go. I’m excited to see what this pilot season brings.”
The show will end Friday night with an hour-long double episode.
“I wish we were still going on because there are a lot more stories to tell, but the good thing is…it feels like we have a lot more of us telling them now, not just one show,” said Hudson Yang.
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