Fresh Off The Boat shows Hollywood there's life beyond yellowface
Fresh Off The Boat shows Hollywood there’s life beyond yellowface
While Fresh Off the Boat takes place in the mid-90s, the ABC sitcom, which returns on Tuesday, has plenty to say about Asian American identity in the present day. In the second season finale, Eddie Huang wants to see Chris Rock’s searing standup special Bring the Pain. Younger brothers Emery and Evan interfere because their mother told him he wasn’t allowed. But after days of bickering, they stop fighting to watch the show together.
Months later, while hosting this year’s Oscars, and after asking whether Hollywood is racist, present-day Rock brought out three Asian children wielding briefcases and introduced them as accountants. That actually happened. To make things even worse, the academy had reportedly known about the skit for months. Yes, Hollywood is racist. So, thankfully, Fresh Off the Boat remains a safe haven for viewers who want to see how Asians and Asian Americans can be depicted without being the butt of the joke.
To understand the importance of Fresh Off the Boat, start with the 2016 Emmys, during which Master of None won outstanding comedy series. “There’s 17 million Asian Americans in this country and 17 million Italian Americans,” said the show’s co-creator Alan Yang. “They have The Godfather, Goodfellas, Rocky, The Sopranos. We’ve got Long Duk Dong.” Then, catch up with the recent whitewashing, from Cameron Crowe casting Emma Stone as a woman named Allison Ng, to Scarlett Johansson starring in a live-action remake of Ghost in the Shell, an anime set in Japan’s dystopian future. More than 13 years after he appeared in the then indie director Justin Lin’s Better Luck Tomorrow, #StarringJohnCho is still only a fantasy.