Sunday, January 8, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 3.05: "No Thanks-giving"

“We are working on Thanksgiving!”

Given that I have a job that pretty much ruins all fall/winter holidays, I had to pick Jessica’s happy exclamation above as the Quote of the Episode. Yeah, I’m usually allowed to go up to Philadelphia for a few days to celebrate Thanksgiving, but the holiday comes right after the worst of the first phase of our busy season and just before the second. During that time, instead of fully relaxing and enjoying time with my family, my brain is preoccupied with all the work things I really should be doing. So I can definitely understand Jessica’s sentiment – where she thinks that because Thanksgiving isn’t part of Chinese culture, it makes sense for the Huangs to open Cattleman’s Ranch on Thanksgiving and make money off all the Americans celebrating the day. It’s kind of sad when you think about it, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are kind of sad holidays to me thanks to work, so the episode fit my mood.

The family is all sitting in front of the television watching roller derby when Jessica makes the big announcement. Instead of putting in a lot of work for bad food and uncomfortable conversation with relatives they don’t even really like for a holiday with which they have no cultural ties, she wants to open Cattleman’s Ranch on Thanksgiving and make money off of “white people looking for a sense of community” as Louis later puts it. Jessica’s mother is more than fine with this, because she is proud that her daughter is putting work first. Grandma Huang is fine with it as long as she gets to watch the Macy’s parade on the bar television. She’s excited to read the energy of the room as the parade passes by. When Honey drops by and tries to invite herself to Thanksgiving, Jessica makes the whole thing even more profitable by deciding that the buffet (to minimize the need for staff who would have to be paid overtime) will cost $18.99 a head for adults. And Honey is perfectly okay with that price point.

Meanwhile, Eddie forgot to do a family tree assignment for school, and the situation leads to his having a bit of an epiphany. Eighth grade doesn’t matter. Colleges only look at high school grades, and as long as you pass eighth grade, you get to move on to high school. Eddie already has good enough grades where he can do no work for the rest of the semester and still pass, so he’s done. The school principal talks to Jessica and Louis and begs them to put a stop to this. Eddie is right, but he’s a talker, and they don’t want him telling the rest of the kids the truth about middle school. Jessica and Louis start by trying to play the “if you live in our house, you live by our rules” card, but Eddie’s not having it. His grades don’t matter, so he’s not going to do any more work than he has to. Jessica says that Eddie won’t necessarily inherit Cattleman’s Ranch. Evan and Emery hear this, and they immediately want in.

Evan and Emery put a lot of work into designing the centerpieces for Thanksgiving. They’ve got vision boards and everything. Evan likes brown tones, and Emery is inspired by maize, both American and European. Louis is impressed, and he’s especially happy about the fact that his boys are interested in taking over the restaurant one day. It could really be his legacy. Jessica, meanwhile, ups the ante in her battle to make Eddie do schoolwork. She takes away his bed and says that he can’t have it back until he does his family tree assignment. Eddie assures her he will be just fine sleeping on t-shirts, but it actually turns out that sleeping on t-shirts isn’t all that comfortable. He wants to find his bed pronto, but he doesn’t actually want to do any school work to make that happen.

Eddie starts his search by asking around at Cattleman’s if anyone has seen his bed. It turns out that it is not actually hidden in the freezer. He also tries asking Honey and Marvin if they have seen his bed, but they haven’t, either. They are useful, however, in providing anecdotes that prove his theory that eighth grade doesn’t matter, much to Jessica and Louis’ chagrin. Meanwhile, Louis is calling Emery and Evan “owners in training,” which kind of freaks out the staff at Cattleman’s. The situation with all three Huang kids comes to a head when Jessica says she doesn’t really want any of the boys to make Cattleman’s Ranch their future. Louis takes exception to the fact that she’d use Cattleman’s as an excuse to get out of Thanksgiving, but it’s not good enough for their boys’ futures.

Jessica’s got one more devious plan up her sleeve to make money on Thanksgiving. She gives Eddie a specific ticket and pockets its match so that the Huangs can win the turkey. Eddie, however, is asleep during the raffle announcement. Louis takes offense to corruption at Cattleman’s, so he quickly tries to raffle it off to someone else. The lady who wins is thrilled until she realizes that the turkey is as “fresh” as can be. It’s still alive. Jessica tries to kill the turkey, but she finds it a lot harder than she thought it would be. While she’s trying to kill the turkey, Jessica and Louis have a heart to heart. Jessica is very proud of what Louis has accomplished with Cattleman’s. But she has even higher hopes for her sons, and that’s only possible because of Cattleman’s. Louis accepts this.

At first Jessica appears to have a change of heart about the whole Eddie and school work thing. She tells Eddie that his bed is in Grandma’s room (who has been providing hilarious commentary about the parade and really loves Garfield). She also gives everyone in the restaurant Thanksgiving dinner for free. When Eddie protests that Jessica just gave away all the profits, she says that she’s so twisted she’ll destroy Cattleman’s Ranch unless Eddie starts doing schoolwork again. At the end of the episode, we see Eddie present the NWA family tree to the rest of the family, which is pretty darn hilarious.

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