Fresh off the What?

Recently the nation has been introduced the first Asian American sitcom, Fresh Off the Boat. The nation has responded generally in a positive light, and it’s fantastic that America is able to experience a dramatized version of the Asian American family experience. For the first time in our nation’s history we can tune into the everyday plights, problems, and issues facing the Asian American family. The show’s continued success is indicative of America’s willingness to share in a diverse experience and to learn about a minority culture that has contributed in countless ways to our nation. One consistent piece of criticism that many express is that the show only covers a small portion of the Asian experience, and that although it would be difficult to include the perspectives of so many diverse ethnic groups, FOTB needs to do a better job at sharing a more holistic Asian experience. “While it has gained praise as a “fresh new comedy” from critics, it has the gigantic burden of representing an immense and diverse group (the Asian American and Pacific Islander as a census racial category/community  consists of more than 30 diverse ethnicities).”

FOTB is able to touch the hearts and minds of many, but especially Asians who understand some of the cultural traditions, behaviors and stereotypes better than people who are on the outside looking in. “Asian American and minority representation in mass media is limited into stereotyped conceptualizations of our otherness. The reality is that Fresh Off the Boat is able to exist because it fits a new model of marketing that generalizes pockets of identity into a fun, fresh, and exciting packaging.” Although FOTB may use stereotypes to convey cultural traditions, the narrative of this family challenges the hegemonic views of society when it comes to minority groups. The reality is after watching this show, you are clearly able to see the humanity of these different ethnic groups and we stop looking at them solely as minorities but more like humans. This breaks down the cultural and societal barriers we have put up and starts America on the journey of learning and understanding instead of judging and compartmentalizing. By tuning into FOTB we are able to revel in our collective humanity, no matter what race you are, because we are able to see a common human experience. Watching FOTB shows us the diverse problems that Asian Americans go through but it also reveals the similar issues we face as individuals or families. We are able to see that although there are minor differences, their problems and circumstances are not so different from our own, and hopefully that instills a sense of compassion and understanding in the U.S.  FOTB also gives us a way to participate in the every day trials and tribulations, and accomplishments of the Asian American experience in the U.S, although dramatized, many of the situations are based upon real events, and this allows us to see those situations first hand. The nation’s acceptance of FOTB is indicative of a new era in American culture, one where we can experience the humanity of diverse cultures up close, and form our own opinions and biases a little more accurately. This is extremely powerful because we have the choice to be more culturally sensitive and understanding because we can now relate across cultures and ethnic groups. Shows like FOTB and Blackish gives us a shared commonality across cultures, and could very well be a great way for our nation to relate before judging too harshly. Although shows like FOTB could be more culturally inclusive, we cannot dismiss that there’s true power in being able to share the Asian American experience with the nation. Instead of judging people based on stereotypes, we are able to see where they originated, and we gain insight to a culture and a people who have contributed and continue to contribute a great deal to our nation.

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