allen e. ho

cinematographer

Fresh Off The Boat

Alright here’s my take on ABC’s sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat.” This is not going to be a popular opinion.

I am sick of hearing about this show like it’s the second coming of Christ for asia america. I’ve come to realize why I’ve become disenfranchised with the asian american creative community the past few years after working on this PBS show recently about the new changing demographics of America. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I haven’t felt this inspired in a long time. I questioned why I lost my desire to have a voice in pushing Asian Americans in media – that’s because it no longer exists. Our society is moving towards a complex and multiculturalist connectedness, and these terms we use seem to be stuck on  “black, white, Asian-american, African American…” these terms are binary relics of the 80s and 90s. It’s either one or the other…but if you take a look at ourselves (and by ourselves I mean the millennial consumer), we aren’t just one and one – we are from here AND there AND maybe somewhere else too. Now more than ever we’re connected by the internet, involved in subcultures and sub-sub-cultures and listening sub-genres of music or involved with a multitude of things besides just an “Asia” or an “America” that define us – we are evolving.

This is why “Fresh Off the Boat” is going to fail. And its failure is going to set back our identity rather than push anything forward. People thinking that “FINALLY AFTER 20 YEARS ZOMG A SHOW ABOUT ME” – No, fuck that. This show isn’t about you, this show is about WHO you might have been in the 90s. It’s even set in the 90s. This show came out 15 years too late and is no longer a reflection of who you are now.

Don’t even get me started with the shitty “Asian-American” (and I quote this with contempt) accents, the hokey 90s humor and the rehashed jokes we’ve seen a million times like the white kid grossed out by noodles or the weirdly “urban” kinda fat kid character trying to fit in. The show is playing on nostalgia and may appear to be some type of achievement for the community – but in reality it’s just a bunch of rehashed identity crap that I’d like to think we’ve moved past by now. Don’t even get me started on the title of the show. 

For those out there who hold creative positions, consider yourself as a tastemaker…I implore you to take on something fresh and something different. We no longer need to comply with these simplified terms of what Asia-America means – let’s get more nuanced here…let’s not limit ourselves with derivative lowest common denominator stuff that is designed for mass consumption. Let’s contribute to a higher discourse of what it means to be living as a person of multiple cultures today. Don’t settle with this bullshit homogeny of ideas of what it means to be “Asian-American” Let’s reflect who we really are.