Friday, June 17, 2016

Fresh Off the Boat 2.22: "Gotta Be Me"

“Thank you Eddie. Even though I can tell you didn’t shower because you smell like a pepperoni pizza, I’m proud of you.”
- Jessica

This episode of “Fresh Off the Boat” dealt a lot with identity and being who you are. They are definitely good lessons to learn and it was a lot more of a “teaching” episode than some of the other episodes we’ve had recently. At the beginning, Louis is at the video rental store and he’s looking in “critter capers”. He really wants to get a silly animal movie but he lets the store clerk, who is kind of a snob, pressure him into getting some foreign film he doesn’t really want. He also learns that someone in the family has checked out some movies that according to the clerk are in very bad taste. After everyone leaves for the day (including Eddie who has asked Jessica to sign a permission slip for a history field trip), he searches the house and finds a bunch of action movies under Jessica’s side of the bed. He goes to Marvin for advice (why I don’t know. All Marvin ever says is racist and or sexist things but whatever).

Jessica is also dealing with how she handles the boys. She doesn’t like field trips so that’s why she said no to Eddie. But when Honey explains it’s to Colonial Floridatowne, Jessica jumps at the chance to chaperone. At first Eddie is skeptical and thinks the trip is going to be awful. But colonial times are Jessica’s passion and Eddie and his friends have a blast on the trip. All of Eddie’s friends are thrilled by how fun Jessica was but Eddie is just confused and hurt that she isn’t like this all the time. He doesn’t like when she’s super strict. It was kind of hilarious to see Jessica leading the boys all around the place.

Back at home, Louis tries to be more like the action heroes in the movies he found under the bed but when Jessica says she only watches Denzel movies, he lies in wait and finds Emery is the one who got the tapes. At first, Louis tries to have a really awkward 90s father-son talk about being gay which is about as painful as one would imagine. He’s physically relieved when Emery says he was doing research for school. But it isn’t quite what Louis thinks. See, Emery has been noticing a lot of his friends have been changing recently. We see a dramatic representation of the change with sweet faced boys dropping things and when they sit up,their voices have dropped and they talk about wanting to throw things at people and objects. It was a bit over the top in the way it addressed the change during puberty but this is a comedy, so it did have some comedic effect. Emery wants to focus on expressing himself through poetry but Louis tells him he needs to act like the other boys so they’ll like him.

Unfortunately for Emery, Louis’ approach just lands him in the principal’s office with a black eye from getting punched in the face (poor kid). He’s really angry with his dad but Louis doesn’t think he did anything wrong and that getting punched is a right of passages of sorts. It isn’t until Louis, Evan and Grandma sit down to watch the foreign film (which of course Evan adores) that Grandma gets to set Louis straight. Changing himself to please others is what Louis does at work and it works because it gets customers to come back. But Emery is much more like Jessica and can only be who he is. Louis realizes the level of his mistake and apologizes to Emery, telling him to be who he is. Emery’s approach is to write a rather moving poem and put one of the other boys’ names on it. It’s kind of underhanded and I suppose nowadays might be seen as bullying or something but I suppose it gave the kid a dose of his own medicine. It hasn’t changed how the other boys are still changing around Emery, though.

At home, Eddie and Jessica kind of get into it when she goes back to being strict and the disciplinarian. She explains that she would love to “fun mom” but that person can’t get Eddie to do what he needs to around the house. He ends up taking that to heart (in an Eddie way) and gets himself up the next morning. He even packs his own lunch (six oreo and a tortilla). Please tell me Jessica didn’t let him actually go to school with that as lunch. But it means they are a half hour ahead of schedule and they can play some Mario brothers together. It’s pretty funny to watch Jessica trying to play after her character had already died. But it is a good bonding moment and we can hope that Eddie learns that if he takes some responsibility for his own stuff, then he and his mom can have some fun now and then.

In the coda, we see Louis back at the video rental store. The clerk is there and suggests some films that he thinks Louis might like, being a “true” film fan. But taking his mother’s advice to heart as well, he says he just wants to watch animal movies that are fun. He hates all the all brow stuff the clerk suggests and he’s not going to conform to what the guy thinks any longer. The clerk is offended but Louis doesn't care. He’s going to be who he is and happy about it. I think most of the Huang family learned some good lessons in this episode (except maybe Evan but he didn’t have much to do). I have to admit I wish they gave Grandma more to do. She usually has some really good advice (and just some funny lines). I get that the show is focused mostly on Eddie growing up but I think the writers may be missing a wealth of entertainment by not giving her more focus.

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