Monday, April 17, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 3.15: "Living While Eddie"

“Eddie, there is something called a white lie. And that is a lie that protects you from all the things that make white people soft.”

I found this episode to be especially fun, although it did tackle some serious discussion of Asians as the “model minority” as the real Eddie Huang would say and the fictional Eddie’s place in that paradigm. It’s another episode that I think the real Eddie might appreciate somewhat if he were to watch it. Yes, there are some light-hearted TV comedy hijinks, but Eddie also has some serious issues to wrestle with of the sort that the real Eddie has written about extensively. What’s more fun about this episode is a plot that takes place at Cattleman’s Ranch. An infomercial is being shot there, and Louis and Emery compete for the illustrious role of salad eater. Louis ends up having to be the adult in the situation, but Emery doubts the sincerity of Louis’ gesture. It’s all good stuff, really.

It’s breakfast time at the Huang house, and Louis has big news to announce. An infomercial is going to be filmed at Cattleman’s Ranch. Emery is a bit infomercial aficionado, so he is especially excited about this. Jessica is happy because she thinks someone paying them to not serve food is an especially ingenious scam. Louis agrees to let Emery watch the filming, since he seems really interested in it. Meanwhile, Jessica notices that her morning papaya (one of the few luxuries she allows herself) is missing. She immediately suspects Eddie, and he owns up to the crime. In retaliation (she’s a big believer in an eye for an eye), she takes Eddie’s breakfast cereal and eats it.

Later, Evan comes to Eddie with big news. At a “white friend’s” house, he has discovered a rather ingenious invention – the dishwasher. Jessica always makes the boys wash the dishes by hand, and they were taught that the dishwasher was just a drying rack. Eddie and Evan go to the kitchen, where they discover that their “drying rack” looks just like a dishwasher, just without buttons. Jessica tells the boys that they are under no circumstances allowed to use the dishwasher. It makes you soft and is bad for the dishes. And Chinese people care very much about their dishes (hence why they’re called “China”). Jessica arrives home to hear the dishwasher running, though, and when she checks it out, it’s warm. One of her children has been disobedient.

The first morning of the infomercial shoot seems to go swimmingly. Louis and Emery get to meet Tony Wonder, a famous infomercial host of whom Emery is a big fan. He even gives them both (rather ridiculous) signed bobbleheads. The product that is going to be sold is the “On-gun,” although Louis thinks “Gunion” would be a better name. One of the PA’s rushes in to tell Tony Wonder there’s a problem, though. Their “salad eater” is a no-show. The problem is quickly solved, however, when Louis agrees to be the salad eater. Emery seems a bit peeved by this. Before Louis starts filming, Louis seems confident, Emery kind of psychs him out, though, by reminding him how many people will be watching. We are treated to a montage of Louis flubbing his take (all he is supposed to say is “Onions, shallots, scallions, it does them all!") over and over. Filming is pushed to a second day because of it.

Jessica immediately accuses Eddie of using the dishwasher. Eddie doesn’t want to own up to it, but he can’t show pruned fingers to Jessica to prove that he washed the dishes by hand. Jessica suspends his allowance for three weeks, which disappoints Eddie, because he was going to use the money to buy an N-64. He wanted to play the new Goldeneye game. I do love the little historical pop culture references in this show. Jessica asks Louis if he thinks they’re raising a bad kid in Eddie. Louis thinks Eddie has a good heart and was probably just really excited to try the dishwasher. The next day, Jessica has the dishwasher disabled. Just as the plumber is finishing his work, Jessica gets a call from the record store at the mall, where the manager is accusing Eddie of shoplifting. Jessica at first shows up at the wrong location of the record store, but eventually she is in the right place, and she tells Eddie he’s in big trouble.

Meanwhile, at day two of the infomercial shoot, Louis is getting ready when Emery stops by to chat. Louis is happy because he has his line memorized and he thinks he’s all ready to go. Emery says that he’s been recast. Emery himself is now going to be the salad eater. Louis watches the filming. Emery says the line properly, but he can’t stop blinking when the camera is rolling. Louis, because he’s a good dad, looks past the whole recasting thing and tries to give Emery a legit pep talk. Emery, however, just accuses Louis of trying to psych him out. At the end of the episode, the whole family sits down to watch the infomercial. The creative team has incorporated outtakes of both Louis and Emery that make them both look foolish. To make matters worse, they stole Louis’ idea, and the product is now called the Gunion. Emery, however, is still convinced that his father doesn’t support him, which I found to be a little ridiculous. Grandma loves using her Gunion to shoot popcorn into a bowl, though.

At the record store, Jessica takes pause when the manager says Eddie could face jail time, because the store prosecutes shoplifting to the fullest extent of the law. He has to leave the room for a minute to deal with a rush on the latest Spice Girls CD, so Eddie and Jessica are able to have a little heart to heart. Eddie is very upset at being “profiled” by his mother, but Jessica says that after the papaya and dishwasher incidents, she can’t trust him anymore. Eddie owns up to using the dishwasher, but he admits that he didn’t actually eat the papaya. Evan has a weakness for tropical fruit, and since he has a “clean record” Eddie decided to take the fall. Jessica is impressed by this, so when the manager comes back, she starts standing up for Eddie. Eddie has a way to prove that he brought the CD in question (the Streetfighter soundtrack) into the store to sell and didn’t shoplift it. There’s one particular track that skips eighteen seconds in. Jessica prompts the manager to play the CD on the boom box (or “boom boom box” as Jessica puts it), and it does indeed skip exactly when Eddie says it will. Eddie is free to go, and his relationship with Jessica is better for it.

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