Fresh Off the Boat forgot the most important thing about being a comedy. You need to be funny. While lots has been made about how the show adds diversity to the ABC lineup, diversity does not make up for jokes that fall flat and characters that can be less than endearing. While I enjoy Cristela and Black-ish, it is because those shows bring a smile to my face, not just that they bring some diversity to ABC.
On paper, I should love the show. It takes place in 1995, when I was not much older than the show’s main protagonist, 11-year-old Eddie Huang. It takes place in a city near and dear to my heart, Orlando. It also features Lunchables, and who doesn’t love Lunchables.
The show is about a family that moves from Chinatown in Washington D.C. to Orlando. Let me stop you right there. While perhaps not as diverse as Washington D.C., Orlando is a melting pot in many ways. Almost no one was born in Orlando. Orlando is filled with transplants, thanks in no small part to the Disney College Program. However, I will get off my soapbox.
Eddie’s dad, Louis, opens the Cattleman’s Ranch Steakhouse. (I think I ate there. It is off of Sand Lake, right?) While Eddie has “mad dreams”, first, get a seat at the table. Second, meet Shaq. Third, change the game (possibly with the help of Shaq). But instead of being a character you sympathize with, he does come across as a little bratty, of no fault of the actor who portrays him. Eddie’s siblings are appealing, but are not given much screen time in the two episodes I have seen. Eddie’s mom is very well meaning if not a bit to stereotypical.
Eddie Huang is a real person. The comedian provides the voice over narration on the sitcom inspired by his life. I have no doubt he and his family felt out of place when they first moved to Orlando and that their life was filled with funny stories of trying to fit in while retaining their own values. Perhaps the producers should try telling those stories. Or in the least, comedian Eddie Huang should provide some comedy to go with the voice-overs.
Fresh Off the Boat premieres Wednesday, February 4 at both 830 and 930pm with a regular time period premiere on Tuesday, February 10 at 8. I hope you find the show more enjoyable than I did.