Thursday, March 2, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 3.10: "The Best of Orlando"

“It’s grandma! She’s in as long as we give her a cut of the profits and a steady supply of green apple Blow Pops.”

I liked this particular episode of “Fresh off the Boat,” even if the plot wasn’t especially consequential. It continued to explore the relationship between Jessica and Louis, which I enjoyed, and Louis learned some lessons about valuing his wife in the process. When Louis wins Orlando Small Businessman of the Year, Jessica can’t stop singing his praises, and Louis has to learn to show his appreciation of Jessica with similar enthusiasm. There was also another great bit of 90’s nostalgia in this one – none other than JNCO Jeans. I did not own a pair myself as a teen (I actually thought they were pretty stupid in their heyday), but I do love me some 90’s nostalgia. The JNCO plot also had a cool connection to the real-life Eddie Huang, who has had his own street fashion line. I do wonder if the real Eddie Huang has ever gone back to watching the show that he inspired, because while the fictional Huang family seems less dysfunctional than the real-life version, the show does address many of the issues Eddie champions, and they do nod to his real-life achievements and interests.

At the beginning of the episode, Louis brings home an important envelope he received at work. He has been named Orlando Small Businessman of the Year, and there is going to be a reception in his honor. Jessica is thrilled, and while Louis wants to keep the event low-key, Jessica has other ideas. She loves the idea of an awards ceremony because it is a chance to brag and show off her husband, who is clearly the best. She invites Deirdre (as payment for all the Tupperware parties she has attended), and she has a very passive aggressive conversation with her sister, Connie. She pretty much invites everyone in the Orlando area that they have ever met, and she enlists Evan’s help in the effort, of course.

Meanwhile, Louis takes Eddie and Emery shopping for outfits for the event. And this is where Eddie encounters JNCO jeans while Louis is distracted by cologne. Eddie desperately wants the jeans, but Emery has less than three dollars and a warm yellow Starburst in his pocket, so they clearly can’t afford it. Emery thinks he has a solution, though. He gets Grandma Huang to sew up a pair of knock-offs. Eddie is impressed until he realizes the jeans aren’t the real deal. Emery doesn’t want Grandma’s work to go to waste, so he wears the jeans to school. Everybody thinks they’re great, and girls start really noticing him, even though he’s just a sixth-grader.

It’s the night of the awards banquet, and a whole crowd is there to cheer Louis on. He’s afraid of microphones, but when it’s time to give his speech, Louis performs rather admirably. He thanks his best friend Marvin, his Cattleman’s Ranch staff, and his boys. He just forgets to thank Jessica. Everyone notices, too. There’s a very passive aggressive message on the answering machine from Deirdre asking if Jessica is okay. There’s one from Connie, too. Louis feels horrible and tries to apologize with a bowl of wooden fruit (because it won’t die like flowers), but Jessica isn’t having it. She makes a really good point about how she’s always bragging on Louis, but he completely forgot her at the awards banquet. Just as the argument is about to get really heated, the anchor team from the local morning show call – they want to interview Louis. Both Louis and Jessica see this as his opportunity to thank her properly, and Evan is instructed to bring the contact list to Jessica can once again call everyone they know. Louis is just about to give his big thank-you to Jessica when the program cuts to an armadillo giving birth on the highway. Again, Jessica is treated to passive aggressive phone messages from their friends.

The popularity of Emery’s pants gives Eddie an idea. He may hate that the pants are knock-offs, but clearly his classmates don’t. So why not sell the pants for half the price of real JNCOs. He figures they can easily enlist Grandma’s help with a cut of the profits and a steady supply of green apple Blow Pops. Eddie is right, of course, and they easily make sales to their classmates. When the principal discovers this, Eddie is worried they’ll be shut down, but the principal is just impressed with the craftsmanship. Eddie thinks that now their operation is “licit,” nothing can stop them. The principal does end up stopping them, but not in the way they anticipated. He buys a pair of JNCOs for himself and wears them at school, instantly making the jeans “uncool” to the students. Eddie and Emery are left with a lot of inventory, but Grandma still demands her full payment due to the “craftsmanship.” Eddie and Emery are left only a few dollars to the good after paying expenses. It seems to me like it was a good first attempt at fashion entrepreneurship, though.

Louis hides out at Marvin’s house after the morning show disaster. Jessica looks for him there, but Marvin covers for him. Louis can’t figure out how to possibly make all this up to Jessica, especially considering she doesn’t like candy or flowers. Marvin suggests Louis ask for advice from someone who knows Jessica really well. Louis, naturally, enlists the help of Evan. They stage a “Huang house” edition of the awards banquet, and Louis gives a new version of the speech where he goes out of his way to thank Jessica. Jessica does truly appreciate the gesture, which she should because it was a nice, heartfelt speech where Louis admits that all the work Jessica does is usually overlooked. She says it means more in front of an audience of one. Jessica extrapolates on this literally, though, and she takes Louis around to each of the guests they invited to the reception and has him recite the new speech to each of them individually. It’s many audiences of one.

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