After ABC found family sitcome success with shows like The Middle, Modern Family, and The Goldbergs, this year, the network has been focusing on bringing more diversity to the airwaves. Black-ish had a strong start with it’s great premiere episode, but quickly ran into mediocrity. The Latin-themed Cristella is pretty silly, but it does have a likable cast. Tonight ABC brings it’s new Asian family to the line up with Fresh Off the Boat which does contain a few laughs, but that is about it.
The show tries to be reminiscent to The Wonder Years with 11-year-old Eddie Huang (Hudson Yang) telling about the glory days growing up in Olrando, Florida in the mid ’90s. Despite the title, the Huang have actually only moved from Chinatown in Washington D.C., but it is still world’s away. Eddie’s father, Louis (Randall Park) moved his family to the suburbs to pursue his version of the American dream which includes opening a cowboy-themed restaurant – because all white Americans love these sort of places. However, reality soon sets in that he will need to work hard in order for his restaurant to succeed.
The fish-out-of-water comedy is based on the best-selling memoir with the same name by the real Eddie Huang, so there is some reality built into the unrealistic script. The show is a great idea but is executed poorly as it has two problems: the writing and the casting. Other than that, it’s flawless. Both Huang and Park have trouble with over-acting. Because of that, neither is very likeable. Instead of believing that they are real people you are made aware that they are acting. In other shows like The Middle, the actors work so well together and are believable, that you are sucked into their world. No so with the Huangs.
The show’s bright spot though is Constance Wu who plays Eddie’s mom, Jessica. She has just the right amount of broken English in her accent to make her seem the most realistic of the bunch whereas no one is going to believe that Park wasn’t born and raised in America. Wu also has the best lines and you can catch most of them from the TV commercials for the show.
Fresh Off the Boast isn’t terrible and the pilot makes a point to show that the Huang’s love and will support each other through their new difficult transition. You can check out the show yourself with two episodes airing tonight on ABC at 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.