ABC’s new series, Fresh Off the Boat, based on the memoir of Eddie Huang, will have you rocking to old school hip-hop and remembering how prepubescent childhood is one of the worst phases in a person’s life. But this isn’t your typical coming-of-age sitcom. Fresh Off the Boat goes one step further, depicting its young characters growing up and adapting to “American life” while experiencing a completely contrasting culture at home.

Fresh Off the Boat Pilot Review

This new series focuses on the life and hilarious times of the Huang family from the perspective of their eldest and most “swagged out” child, 12-year-old Eddie Huang (Hudson Yang). Eddie is growing up in a Taiwanese household when all he wants to do is be an “American.” He’s the “black sheep” in the family, literally, as he gravitates toward iconic American Hip-Hop artist such as Biggie and Tupac to illustrate the “cruelties of his life.” The family is led by the family patriarch, Louis (Randall Park), who decides that the best way to pursue his “American dream” is to move his family from “Chinatown” D.C., to Orlando, FL., and open a southwestern steak house restaurant. Then there’s Eddie’s mother, Jessica (Constance Wu), who is the practical and realistic adult of the family, his two little brothers and his grandmother.

The show depicts the successes and failures of the Huang’s as they attempt to adapt to their new surroundings and cultural shock in suburban America. And each episode is marked by a life lesson the whole family learns from understanding a different aspect of American life. In the opening episode, the family learns how to live amongst “Americans” for the first time after living amongst “Asians” their entire lives. Jessica joins a stay-at-home mom rollerblading gang, Eddie brings a lunchable to school instead of noodles and Louis hires a “full blooded” American to greet his customers. But, the family soon learns that being “American” is much harder than it looks and if you try too hard you will fail.

Yang plays a refreshingly new style of comedy for a young actor, with great timing and a nuance for silly faces. Yang delivers Biggie quotes with authenticity and misplaced personal experience that the audience can immediately feel his disappointment at life. Some of the best moments are when he makes a dramatic entrance with the aid of his wheelchair bound grandmother, playing old school rap in the background to present his feelings to his parents.

Wu and Park are standouts as the confused leaders of the Huang pack. Each conveys their respective characters with a genuine originality. Park is the classic naive father who believes America can make his dreams come true, while Wu is the pessimistic wife who is waiting for her husband to fail so she can say “I told you so.” Also both actors do well representing Taiwanese culture with respect and hilarity. They show a bolder side to assimilation and capture the spirit of the “normal” struggle every “American” family faces on a daily basis to survive. Wu and Park deliver some of the best scenes, when Jessica is scolding Louis for an idea gone awry, as Louis is constantly thinking of ways to improve the attendance at his restaurant through absurd misconceptions of American culture.

This show will leave you laughing into commercial breaks and have you feeling sympathetic toward the Huang family. An inventive look at immigrants in America, from the one person who lived it first-hand, Eddie and his family of misfits are the new neighbors in town and they are here to stay.

Catch Fresh Off The Boat Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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