Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Fresh off the Boat 4.09: "Slide Effect"

“Don’t make me look like a cat. There’s nothing scarier than a cat-person.”

I’m trying to ease back into writing here by tackling some of the comedies that are in my backlog (since they’re shorter and all), and I was surprised to see I hadn’t written about “Fresh off the Boat” since March 2018. Then I fired up my DVR and saw I was missing the next episode, which probably explains part of why I abandoned writing about the show for so long. So, $2.99 given to Jeff Bezos later, and this recap is coming to you courtesy of Amazon Prime (you’re welcome). I actually distinctly remember watching this episode before, which makes me think I must have deleted it off my DVR accidentally. Back in March 2018 I was commuting 30 miles each way to work at a difficult job while having a (not life-threatening if treated but still fatiguing) autoimmune disease, though, so I can see how that could happen. I still have the difficult job and the autoimmune disease, but my commute is much improved these days, which is why I’m trying (again) to get back into writing. Anyway, this particular episode struck me as a pretty basic (going for easy jokes) example of a sitcom episode, but it did explore the character of Eddie with some depth, so I appreciated that.

The main plot in this episode is a bit of a coming of age story for Eddie. Eddie is mortified to learn that his friend Trent is on the school Safety Patrol (and Trent is kind of a jerk about it, so I really can’t fault Eddie here). He’s also mortified that the rest of his friends are also lame enough to want to join school activities. One friend is a cheerleader, another is the lead in the school musical production of “Brent” (it’s totally not “Rent” because the landlord’s name is “Brent” and everybody has the flu), and one is in book club. Eddie is so disappointed that all his friends want to be good, productive member of the student body. Then Trent takes it to another level by writing up Eddie for wearing “slides” (those black and white Adidas flip flops every teenager but me wore in the late 90 – they always looked painful to me), when East Orlando High is a “close toed campus.” Eddie has to get the dress code violation notice signed by a parent, and Louis, to his credit, pretty much just laughs when he sees what his son has gotten in trouble for. He tells Eddie that he’s glad he didn’t get in real trouble and that he and his friends are “good boys.” This is basically a nightmare for a teen who wants to be “cool” like Eddie.

This episode’s B plot centers around Jessica. She’s going to be a published author, but her editors are requesting an author photo for the book, and for some reason it’s freaking her out. Honey offers to take the photos, which seems to please Jessica. Honey puts her all into it during a fabulous montage set to Cake’s “Going the Distance” (I have fond memories of that song thanks to a law school friend), but Jessica is not happy with any of the pictures. She wants to use a picture of Amy Tan instead, because her picture looks like a picture of a real author. She doesn’t even like any pictures Evan or Emery took of her (which I kind of don’t blame her for). Later, Louis tries to tell Jessica that Eddie got detention (more on that in a bit), and she’s so distracted by trying to write a new children’s book (about an alligator who eats dreams) that she doesn’t care. While she’s working, Jessica finds out that a photo has been submitted on her behalf, and she goes to confront Honey. Honey wisely suggests that Jessica is suffering from self-doubt, and after some initial resistance, Jessica agrees. Honey reminds Jessica that even if it’s not perfect, even finishing writing a novel is more than most people have accomplished, and people will respect her for that. This inspires Jessica to get back in the game. She even likes the photo, which is a picture of her looking back at the kids, annoyed, from the driver’s seat of her car.

At East Orlando High, Trent’s reign of terror continues. He even wrote the producers of Rent to tell them about the upcoming production of “Brent,” and they’re not happy about it (he thought it was his safety patrol duty to warn of potential copyright infringement). The rest of the guys are all mad at Trent, and Eddie sees this as his opportunity to get his friends in on a little mayhem. He tells them they should all wear slides to school on the same day and see how Trent reacts. The guys all agree, but when the day comes, they chicken out, and Eddie is the only one wearing slides. Trent writes him up again, and this time Eddie gets Saturday detention. Louis still isn’t very upset about it and ends up quoting Breakfast Club a lot. Eddie ends up sleeping through detention, which impresses the hackey sack guys (in detention for sacking), since the detention monitor explicitly told them not to sleep.

The hackey sack guys start asking Eddie to hang out with them. They regularly ditch school at lunch time to go to Taco Fiesta, and they invite Eddie to join them. Eddie is desperate to fit in, and he makes a big show of asking for a water cup and instead filling it with Sprite. The hackey sack guys complain that Trent confiscated their hackey sacks, and Eddie hatches a plot to get them back. He has the combination to Trent’s locker, which contains a key to the principal’s office, where the sacks are being stored. The plot goes off perfectly – a little too perfectly. The hackey sack guys decide to steal the petty cash while they’re in the office, too. Somehow the powers that be figure out it was Trent’s key used in the theft, so Trent gets kicked off the safety patrol.

At this point, Eddie’s conscience kicks in (I told you this episode was a bit of a coming of age story). He turns to Louis for advice. After using some really confusing metaphors, Eddie finally tells Louis everything that happened. Louis assures Eddie that the fact Eddie is upset about this means he’s not a bad kid. Eddie says he has a plan to make it right, but he needs Louis’ help. Louis loans Eddie the money to pay back the school (for which Eddie has to work at the restaurant in exchange). He also gives Trent a tip about the lunch time taco runs to give Trent a way to get back on safety patrol. Not sure if that was the best move, considering Trent doesn’t seem to have learned much about not abusing power, but I can see why Eddie wanted to fix all the damage he himself had done. The guys all reunite to see their friend in “Brent,” which is pretty hilarious until the principal announces that the school lost their court case, and they have to shut down the production for copyright infringement.

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