Fresh Off the Boat's
Outside of its social responsibility and outside of representation, Fresh Off the Boat's responsibility is to itself. To keep it real. To tell its own story. To be specific to itself. And in its specificity lies universality. When we eavesdrop on someone's story that contains no generalities or stereotypes, a crystal clear picture emerges.
It isn't just about "lots of Asian-Americans own restaurants" but more about "Eddie Huang's father owns a steakhouse called Cattlemen's Ranch -- he doesn't serve chop suey and all his employees are white and he has a very positive relationship with each of them. And that restaurant is failing." My white, third generation, three-eighths British, one-eighth Swedish, and half Italian-American boyfriend and I both are able to relate to being a fish out of water, to a failing business, and to good work relationships.
In Home Sweet Home-School, Eddie gets straight A's and his (white) friend gets straight C's. Both pump the air with victory. And then later, a (white) family assembles at Cattlemen's Ranch and you can overhear them launch their meals with, "Cheers to our son for getting straight C's!"
"That was never my experience," said Orion. "C's were never OK."
"Really?" I asked. "It felt like white kids could get C's and not get beat with a belt when I was growing up!" Now I'm learning.