Monday, June 13, 2016

Fresh off the Boat 2.21: "Rent Day"

“You get a Chipwich! And you get a Chipwich! Do you know why it is raining Chipwiches? Because I just found us the perfect renters!”

This episode of “Fresh off the Boat” was tied together by the fact that in both the plots, the Huang parents had to admit they were wrong about something. As we’ve gotten to know Louis and Jessica pretty well by this point, we know that this wasn’t easy for either of them, although probably easier for Louis than Jessica. Specifically, both are wrong in their estimations of other people. Louis doesn’t trust Eddie enough, and Jessica trusts the new renters at the investment property too much. I’ll admit that I was surprised Jessica was so willing to trust her gut when choosing tenants instead of conducting meticulous background checks. And the attorney in me was yelling “constructive eviction!” during one of her schemes to deal with the tenants once she discovered how terrible they truly were. That being said, John Francis Daley (of “Freaks and Geeks” and “Bones” fame) and Allison Scagliotti (of “Warehouse 13” and “Stitchers” fame) gave very fun performances as the terrible tenants.

We open this episode with Jessica, Honey, and Grandma Huang showing the investment house to a prospective buyer. Grandma has even made a variety of cookies, and she’s very offended that the prospective buyer isn’t interested in them. The prospective buyer notes that there’s some work in the basement that makes it look like there have been termite issues (which is true, of course). He’s willing to buy the house, though, because he thinks he can rent it out and make a lot of money on it that way. As soon as she hears this, Jessica kicks him out and tells the other women that they are going to rent the house out instead. Honey (in kind of a surprise move) points out that they aren’t at all prepared to be landlords. They don’t have an attorney, or even a handyman. Jessica is convinced that she can take care of absolutely everything. Which we all know, of course, isn’t true. Take this from someone who once worked as a bookkeeper for a property management company: if you are renting just one or two properties, use a property management company! Taking care of everything yourself just isn’t worth the added stress.

Meanwhile, Eddie really, really wants a Divemaster watch. He can’t stop fantasizing about how cool he will look wearing it. He tries to suck up to Louis to get him to buy it for him, but that just makes Louis feel awkward. Louis has an old gold Casio watch that he is very attached to because it has a calculator and an alarm. He lends the watch to Eddie and says that if Eddie takes care of the watch well for a week, he will buy the Divemaster. Eddie is super excited about this, and of course he thinks he’ll handle the challenge with no problems. In the middle of the week, though, Eddie is dismayed to find that the watch is missing. He had taken it off to get a shower, and he can’t remember if he ever put it back on. Evan and Emery specialize in finding missing items, and they have styled themselves as “The Huang Boys.” They got paid nicely for finding the living room remote control, so they’re happy to take Eddie’s case.

Jessica takes it upon herself to interview prospective tenants, and she settles upon a young couple named Jordan and Raquel. They say they went to law school, but they’re in the medical field now. Jessica assumes they must be successful doctors, so she is very eager to rent to them. She goes to Honey and Grandma with a box of donuts, gleefully handing them out and lauding herself as a visionary like Oprah. There’s just one small problem. While in the middle of her celebration, Jessica gets a call from the bank saying that Jordan and Raquel’s check bounced. Jessica doesn’t want Honey and Grandma to know there’s a problem, though, so she writes them all checks from her own account that are supposed to be their shares of Jordan and Raquel’s first payment. She then goes and pays a visit to Jordan and Raquel. She finds them playing video games and eating takeout and just generally goofing around. Jessica is unhappy about this, and things only get worse from there. Jordan and Raquel say they’re surprised Jessica rented to them, considering they aren’t licensed attorneys, and their connection with the medical profession is that they’ve been lab subjects a bunch of times.

Meanwhile, Emery and Evan are on the case of the missing watch, and in the course of their investigation, they talk to Louis. Louis actually wants to hire them to find the watch too, not realizing they had already been hired by Eddie. Louis had seen the watch on Eddie’s bed, and he thought Eddie was being careless with it, so he took it to take a lesson. Unfortunately for Louis, he then lost it. So Emery and Evan are looking for the watch on behalf of two clients now. By the end of the episode, there are three gold Casios in play. Emery and Evan bought one because they didn’t want to break the streak. Eddie also walks in wearing a watch that Louis bought and left sitting out because he felt bad about messing with Eddie. Grandma also appears with the original watch. She took it from Louis in the first place because she wanted to teach Louis not to mess with his son. Louis learns a lesson in giving Eddie a chance to be responsible before passing judgment.

Jessica, trying to solve the tenant problem on her own, gives Jordan and Raquel some bar study materials and tells them to study for the bar so they can get a real job. She also tells them to cut expenses by eating takeout less and making more of their own food. Jordan and Raquel take this to heart, and the result turns out to not be what Jessica expected. When she next stops by the investment house, Jordan and Raquel are studying for the bar, and there’s a chicken in the yard. They have put out a lot of money to set up the homestead as Jessica wanted, so now it’s going to take them longer to pay the rent. And now that they’re studying for the bar, they’ve also remembered that they have right as tenants, and Jessica can’t evict them without following the process. Jessica pulls up behind a cop she knows to ask him if it’s true that she can’t just kick the tenants out, and he confirms that is indeed the case.

What Jessica tries next is what got me all upset over constructive eviction. She cuts of the electricity and water and sends a cat after the chicken. Jordan and Raquel make the best of this too, though. The cat doesn’t eat the chicken, and they make a party out of the no power and water situation, with candles and lemonade. Eventually, Jessica is forced to admit to Honey what Happened, and Honey is sympathetic. She reminds Jessica that Oprah got fired early in her career but came back to build an empire with the support of her friends. They make the decision to sell the house, so Jordan and Raquel are the new owner’s problem now (which was a somewhat too easy ending to that story, I think). Jessica decides to try flipping again, but this time just a condo, and Honey and Grandma get on board.

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