Tuesday, March 24, 2015
FRESH OFF THE BOAT -- my review
Created by Nahnatchka Khan, who also pumped some good laughs in DON’T TRUST THE B______ IN APT. 23, FRESH OFF THE BOAT is on ABC (so it’s obviously a family show) and deals with the culture clash of a Chinese family trying to make sense of Orlando, Florida (as if anyone could). It’s based on the memoir by Eddie Huang and set in 1995. So it’s WONDER YEARS, THE GOLDBERGS – a formula ABC is comfortable with – but more deliciously subversive.
I must admit I’m a sucker for Americana. Goofy-themed restaurants, fads, franchises, fashions, slogans – that’s what makes America great. And FRESH OFF THE BOAT explores all that nonsense, but through the unique perspective of foreign eyes. There’s actual social commentary going on here. It is possible to get yucks without crass vagina jokes. Who knew?
Just the fact that the show goes for laughs and doesn’t settle for smiles, low road humor, pop culture rhetoric, or tired irony separates it from the pack.
The pilot had some good moments but with each subsequent episode the series is really finding its stride. The stories are clever and offbeat. Centered primarily around 11-year-old, Eddie, one features his pubescent doofus friends getting all aroused over a sexual harassment video. In another they covet a new Shaquille O’Neal video game and one of the kids’ mother instead buys him a video game based on the Dolly Parton/Jane Fonda feminist workplace comedy, 9 TO 5. And it turns out to be better.
FRESH OFF THE BOAT airs tonight at 8:00 (for the six people who still actually watch TV shows live and in real time). And you can get access to past episodes on probably forty different streaming sites, On Demand channels, websites, or fish-out-of-water-comedy apps. Nahnatchka Khan is a funny writer, Constance Wu is a funny actress, and FRESH OFF THE BOAT is a funny show getting funnier.