Fresh Off the Boat has been a fresh new look into Asian American life into that has been long too absent in the mainstream media. Margaret Cho was able to create an Asian American sitcom called All American Girl that featured the life of an Asian American trying to make it in the United States. What looked like a breakthrough for the Asian and Asian American community ended up being a failed attempt to truly get the story of Asian immigrants into the mainstream. With the struggle to gain the ratings they desired, the producers decided to make it more about getting an audience instead of telling the true struggles of Asian Americans. They focused on stereotypes for jokes and didn’t do any research on the demographics they were writing for. The show ended up being cancelled after one season thus ending any progress Asian Americans have made in the homogenous media. Although the initial show failed, it was able to inspire those who felt the same struggles as Margaret Cho. Eddie Huang was one of those people who were excited to see Asian Americans on the television and used that memory to fuel his passion for creating equal representation for Asian Americans in the media.
It only took twenty years for another TV show to have Asian Americans featured and the main characters in Fresh Off the Boat. The fact that it took so long could be evidence as to the racist actions taking place in the media. This show was written in order to tell the true story of Eddie Huang growing up being Asian American in the 90’s. It catalogs his experiences growing up in suburban Florida and the struggles of trying to find a balance between his Asian family and the non-Asian community. The show has met with pretty solid success with people feeling true representations of Asian Americans lives here in the United States. Regardless of its success in promoting the Asian American representation in the media, Eddie Huang has some criticisms with it. His memoirs of which this show is based off was created with the intent providing an insight to the mixed life in the US which is what his goal with the show was. However after the show started airing, he became disappointed with the content. He stated that after the pilot, the show began to repress his true story. He felt that the show was getting rid of key elements such as the violence that he experienced. He honestly felt that this show should have used comedy to speak the truth with can be painful but is necessary for any advancements in the civil society of mixed races.
Constance Wu, who plays the mother in the show, found the show to be a good catalyst for Asian Americans in media. She found that the writers were able to create a show that was able to be funny but not rely on any stereotypes unlike All American Girl. She tried to produce a character that was true and not rely on the thoughts of the people who would call it racist out of ignorance. Randall Park who plays the father had the same thoughts saying that the writers made sure that the characters weren’t the butt of the joke. He took the role because he was able to relate to the issues that Huang discusses in his memoir.
This show has been gaining some momentum in the media scene has been creating a dialogue about race and its representation in media. With just that, it could be said that this show is already succeeding in progressing Asian American culture. As long as the show maintains their dedication to telling the real story, it will open up opportunities for further shows to feature people of color as main characters. With that, it will open up a whole new realm for Asian Americans to receive agency through the media.