Fresh Off the Boat is an American sitcom series, starring Hudson Yang, Randall Park, and Constance Wu. Created by Nahnatchka Khan, it is loosely inspired by the life of chef and food personality Eddie Huang and his book Fresh Off the Boat. It is the first American television sitcom starring an Asian-American family to air on American network primetime since Margaret Cho's All American Girl, which aired for one season in 1994. Its style has been compared to the comedy series Everybody Hates Chris. The flashback technique with voice-over narration from the present day (first season only) is similar to The Wonder Years.
The show debuted on ABC with two preview episodes on February 4, 2015. The second episode, which aired after Modern Family, was promoted as a bonus episode, and formally premiered in its primetime slot on February 10, 2015. The first of the two preview episodes garnered 7.94 million viewers, becoming the second-highest rated comedy premiere that season.
On May 7, 2015, ABC renewed Fresh off the Boat for a second season of 13 episodes. ABC ordered 9 additional episodes on October 13 and two more on November 17, leading to a total of 24 episodes for the second season. On March 3, 2016, ABC announced that the series has been renewed for a third season, which premiered on October 11, 2016. On May 12, 2017, ABC renewed the series for a fourth season, which premiered on October 3, 2017. On May 11, 2018, ABC renewed the series for a fifth season, which premiered on October 5.
The story follows the course of Eddie Huang's Taiwanese family as they make their way from Chinatown of Washington, DC to Orlando, Florida, to open a cowboy-themed steak restaurant in 1995 (with the first five seasons being set between 1995 and 1999). His mother struggles with the culture clash between her upbringing and a Florida community that does not have a large Asian population, his father embraces the "American Dream", and Eddie struggles with assimilating into school.
Development and Production
Eddie Huang's 2013 Fresh Off the Boat caught the attention of TV networks upon release, with ABC and 20th Century Fox Television signing in late that year. Huang, the show's creator and one of the producers of the series, led a Twitter campaign to change the original show name, Far East Orlando, when it was in development.
On May 13, 2014, ABC ordered the first season of the show during the May 2014 upfront to air in 2015 as a mid-season replacement. The Fresh Off the Boat cast at a panel discussion for the show.
The real-life Eddie Huang narrates the first season only. Eleven episodes into the first season, Huang expressed frustration over ABC's approach, saying it presents an "ambiguous, cornstarch story about Asian-Americans" that perpetuates "an artificial representation of Asian American lives". The sitcom was adapted to suit a broader American audience. He also Tweeted in April 2015, "I understand this is a comedy but the great comics speak from pain: Pryor, Rock, Louis...This show had that opportunity but it fails." Huang said that the all-comedy TV show contrasted with his real family where his grandfather killed himself, his grandmother had bound feet, and state family services tried to remove the children from the home.
Despite his concern for authenticity, Huang finds the show a "milestone" for Asian-Americans as they are at the forefront of this television series. Huang further explained in an interview on National Public Radio, "The studio and network are not on a mission to not represent us. They just don't know how to."
Huang described the exchange between his team and ABC as brief. In an article in Vulture Huang expressed concern over the studio's decision that Nahnatchka Khan, an Iranian-American writer, would represent his memoir for the TV scripts, believing that she would present the story as less than realistic and authentic. "I would be excited, but you attached a Persian writer, and I'm kinda worried it's going to be The Shahs of Cul-de-Sac Holando."
In 2015, Constance Wu was interviewed by Jenny Zhang for The Lenny Interview. In this interview, she spoke about her initial fear of criticizing some of the shows details. Now in its second season, Wu speaks openly about her request for the staff to make the show more specific, stating, "If you change the food to a 1,000-year-old black egg with tofu and scallions, it will be a little more specific, and specificity is just better for character, and it's more interesting than, say, tofu and rice."
- Brady Tutton appears in seven episodes, playing the frenemy of the main protagonist, Eddie Huang.