WWAM AMWF media review

Where’s Wang? – Fresh off the Boat; an Asian Sitcom?

“For the most part, what we see of Asian male sexuality is the assertion of a stronger Western virility at the expense of Asian masculinity. In short, the imagery takes Asian men lightly, as less-serious competitors for women, and less-competent fighters.” Sheridan Prasso, The Asian Mystique

The “Where’s Wang” tag allows us at WWAM BAM! to review how present this bias is within sitcoms and other tv shows having come out of the Hollywood machine (and other media) over the past few years, and review any media through an AMWF lens. This time we tackle an “Asian sitcom’.

Fresh off the Boat
FotB – don’t get me wrong, I do watch it, as a guilty pleasure and because I still enjoy seeing an Asian sitcom or TV show centered around Asians. And many times the jokes are very relatable as a person with Chinese in-laws. But the whitewashing and American patriotism on this sitcom does leave you with a desire to chuck up. Having watched the TV show and read the book, as well as the drama around the author Eddie Huang ultimately quitting and publicly distancing himself from the show, I have to say it is pretty terrible.

Huang’s memoir is real and raw, he tells it all, including the domestic abuse suffered at the hands of his father; and the fact that despite this, he still loves him, they’re still family. It’s layered, it’s messy, it’s life.

whitewashing tv america patriotism
Look at me, I couldn’t hurt a fly, much less whip my son’s bum with a belt

In the sitcom the father is a soft and squishy Asian business man with no backbone, always smiling and nodding, who could never be a threat to anyone, and is always running after the latest business fad trying to make money. He means well, but once again he is just the kind of guy you’d never take seriously but rather pat on the head to say “well done, boy, now go chase that pay check”. In the end, the show is really just another opportunity to show off how great America is; one of the reasons Huang decided to quit this ‘Asian sitcom’.

1 out of 5 rice bowls for this white-washed model minority propaganda.

Laura Nutchey-Feng

Laura Nutchey-Feng has been living in China for the past four years. Her love affair with the language and country started in 2006 and she met her future husband, a hunky Inner Mongolian, 5 years later. She blogs about her crazy wedding experience at Our Chinese Wedding.

5 comments

  1. I would give it myself 3 -4 ricebowls but only the comedy part. When looking from the whitewashing and “how great America is” perspective I give it only only 1 ricebowl…
    Both my wife and I love watching the show, especially my Chinese wife who asks me everday ” is another episode out?”. However when you switch the brain on while watching you can be only like – WTF.
    Like when they went to Taiwan we expected something more about the culture and whatnot all but it was just nothing and in no time they were back in the USA.
    The stereotypes are just too much and some viewers will only get the wrong idea about Chinese or Asians in general due to how they are depicted in FOTB. I really do understand why Eddie Huang quit this whole thing because it is far from his experiences and views.

    1. Hi Timo! You are very right, indeed. And yes, I do think there is some nice comedy, but I really agree about Taiwan, especially this whole “awakening” about how the US has to naturally be better in the end left me feeling a bit sick tbh…but what can you do! Good on EH, that he didn’t let them push him around. And every now and then when I totally run out of all the other shows I watch, I do end up right back with FOTB. The dad in the series actually featured in a really cool skit by Wong Fu bros recently – “Santa is Asian?” – I loved that. He defo seems like a really nice guy, but the role they make him play is a bit of an insult…

  2. I thought the first season was funny, but I am watching the second now and it’s pretty bad. I hate when comedies have a “moral of the story” in each episode: “trust your husband”, “don’t force your dreams on your kids”, “be nice to your friends” zzzzzzzzz… boring! It reminds me of the family comedies of the 80s.

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