Sunday, February 08, 2015

Not So Fresh

Since ColumbusGuy has chimed in about new sitcom Fresh Off The Boat I figured I'd add my two cents.  As CG notes, it's a lot like The Goldbergs (it even took that show's timeslot for its premiere), mixed with a little Black-ish (took that show's timeslot for its second episode).  Too bad, because if you're going to emulate any shows on ABC Wednesday, it should be The Middle or Modern Family.

Fresh Off The Boat is about an Asian-American family that moves from Washington D.C. to the more suburban Orlando, Florida, where we get a culture clash.  It's based on the memoir of Eddie Huang, which, alas, means the story is told looking back (putting distance between us and the immediacy of the story) and through the eyes of the hip-hop obsessed oldest boy in the family, rather then just letting us see the family as the family (though I like some of the old school music on the show).

Fish-out-of-water is a pretty common theme in sitcoms; the show isn't just Goldbergs and Black-ish--it owes a lot to a line of titles which include another "fresh" sitcom, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.  Unfortunately, the show trafficks in stereotypes--not just of the Asian-American variety (such as their Tiger Mom, who seems to be the central character so far), but of the sitcom variety.  And the plots and gags feel like re-treads as well.  The show is also set at a highly unrealistic level--not quite so far out as The Neighbors, but about on the same level as Suburgatory.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if your characters are way out there, you need amazing jokes to keep things working.

The pilot, with the family moving into the town where the father plans to run his own restaurant wasn't much, but the premise seemed like it might go somewhere.  Unfortunately, the second episode, with the wife being overbearing both with the father and the kids, suggested where the show was going wasn't going to be good.  Though I liked the adult actors (the kids were just sitcom kids sounding like tired sitcom writers), I can't see going out of my way to watch this when it starts its regular Tuesday slot.

PS.  A running gag is people keep confusing the restaurant with the apparently well-known "Golden Saddle." Could this possibly be Golden Corral they're referring to, but had to change for legal reasons?  I was watching with the CC on and they actually wrote Golden Corral, which suggests they dubbed in Saddle later. I don't have the strength to go back and watch to see how their lips move.

PPS.  In the first scene, the son notes that his mother doesn't understand you can't haggle at a J.C. Penney.  This is almost word for word a line I wrote in a sketch many years ago.  I wonder if it's been floating around since then and someone finally used it on TV?

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