(Beware, spoilers below!)
Eddie’s mum starts working at the restaurant and rules with an iron grip, whilst she opens a Chinese Learning Centre at home to extend the boy’s education when they start doing too well at school. Mum Jessica here is clearly the powerhouse centre of a male family, juggling over both watching her children and trying to save costs. Her husband tries to be kind to his customers, even going so far as to emotionally appeal to some customers who are attempting to dine and dash. When it all goes wrong we see the extent to which Mrs Huang has her heart in the right place.
The same goes for her boys: Eddie, the one most in tune with American culture, wishes and hopes for the same free time and academic expectations as his white friends. The show might not be doing so much to dispel stereotypes, but it does go so far to show the very human motivations behind academic pressure. Watching the show, you do wonder if Fresh Off the Boat is trying to take sides or just offering a open picture with which the viewer can make their own assessment. Episodes like this one shoot for the latter, even though this might not be clear for some. The contrast of Eddie’s family (and am I the only one to say that I love the grandma?) with his friend that pines for his dad tries to push for the idea that there’s no one perfect ideal. Eddie might not get the freedom of his friend, but he does have two loving parents that always try to be there. If there’s anything I hope the comedy develops over the season, it’s this widening of perspective which will make the show more than just a victory broadcast for Western-Asians.