Fresh Off the Boat, Season 1, Episode 3: “The Shunning.”
Original airdate February 10, 2015.
Microsynopsis: Jessica makes a new friend, but Louis worries that this friendship might threaten the well-being of the family business. Louis sees the neighborhood block party as an opportunity to introduce people to his restaurant. Eddie is convinced that what he needs for instant cred is to be seen with his (married) next-door neighbor clinging to his arm.
Good: There’s a lot to like here, but standout moments include scenes with Eddie’s younger brothers Emery and Evan. Emery continues to be the ladies’ man in the family, while Evan takes a turn as a neighborhood mom. Randall Park shows some comedic acting chops I didn’t know he had, and his character Louis is taking on some discernable definition. Jessica’s interactions with her new friend are believable; their bonding moments ring true and genuine, something a lot of Eddie’s story is lacking. There are hard-earned payoffs in the last few sequences that give me a good feeling about how strong this show could be.
Bad: Eddie’s story line is sitcommy as heck, just a silly, unbelievable, over-the-top, not-very-funny plot thread that, if not for a pretty good payoff at the end, could really have brought this whole episode down. I’m a strong believer in letting teens and tweens listen to the music that turns them on, but when they emulate disrespectful, misogynistic behavior they see in music videos, they make a case for the other side. It’s clear Eddie comes from a good, strong home, and he should know better. The cartoony aspect of this part of the story softens it a bit (I get it; it’s just meant to be silly), but he gets away with far, far, far too much. And misogyny aside, it’s just kind of dumb and unfunny. You can forgive a lot if something is funny. This doesn’t earn that.
FOB moment: Stinky tofu at the Melrose Place viewing party.
Soundtrack flashback: ODB’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and Too Short’s “So You Wanna be a Gangster.”
Final grade, this episode: I appreciate this episode’s willingness to make things uncomfortable, and its ability to rescue its characters from being jerks in a way that seems believably conciliatory. There are some really funny moments in dialogue, situation, and visuals (the NASCAR payoff is as good as anything in Arrested Development), and the introduction of (hopefully) recurring characters bodes well. It’s still playing to too dense a young audience with Eddie’s character, though, and that’s reason for concern. It gets a low B.