Non-spoiler review of Fresh Off the Boat, Season 1, Episode 6: “Fajita Man”
Original airdate February 24, 2015.
Microsynopsis: Desperate to get his hands on the new Shaq-Fu video game, Eddie learns that working for a parent can be nearly impossible when Louis hires him to be the fajitas server at the restaurant. Jessica looks for an employer of her own who will appreciate her ability to do almost everything.
Good: This is episode 6 and for the first time, Eddie’s not a jerk. Randall Park as Louis continues to find his character’s groove. Emery and Evan keep being funny. Jessica does a pretty funny call-back to something in an earlier episode when she celebrates landing a job. I will admit that while this episode leans heavily sappy, it hit me positively in a few of my biases. My mother managed Japanese restaurants, and she was the toughest boss I ever had when I washed dishes for her in my junior year of high school. She was impossibly tough, so there were a few things I recognize in Eddie’s experience. And Louis does something at the end that my own father did a few times when I struggled to scrape some money together as a teen. There’s stuff here that’s just too silly, but it has notes of truth about work ethic, parenting, and grace. For once, I liked the sentimentality.
Bad: Jessica gets away with some pretty obnoxious stuff that’s good for laughs but compromises the show’s believability. Grandma pulls a Silent Bob in Chasing Amy that we were never really prepared for, and she does it straight, with no hint of the charm or wit she’s so far exhibited. There was probably a smarter way to deliver her sentiment.
FOB moment: Louis, speaking to Eddie, says, “My father, your Yeh Yeh.”
Soundtrack flashback: Kool Moe Dee’s “I Go to Work.” Here’s another one of my biases. I love Kool Moe Dee and think he doesn’t get enough play nowadays, and the soundtrack features a whole verse.
Final grade, this episode: This feels like one of those we’ve-found-our-groove episodes, with not much new stuff to show us in the characters or setting, but the development of Eddie’s relationship with his father is a worthwhile effort that can pay off big-time in future chapters. I appreciate the exploration of this relationship, but wish there had been similar effort on at least one other relationship in the show. Instead, Jessica’s story line feels silly and insipid, where it could at least have been silly and meaty. Again, this show rewards multiple viewings, as there are some great things in the details. There is something hilarious but easy to miss in the scene where Jessica is bleeped, which is pretty funny even without noticing it. Call me biased, call me a sucker, call me a sap, but I liked the overall niceness of this episode. B.
***See Mitchell’s previous Fresh Off the Boat episode reviews, with links on how to watch these episodes online***
A note about Mitchell’s ratings scale:
The editors of 8Asians have not asked me to justify my grades on these episodes, much to their credit, but I will offer a quick explanation for those who feel I’m grading too harshly. With all of television history to compare itself to, Fresh off the Boat and any other new sitcom can consider themselves successful if they hit the B mark on a consistent basis. The best episodes of M*A*S*H, The Simpsons, Seinfeld, The Cosby Show, Roseanne, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Arrested Development are A-pluses, and the second tiers of those great sitcoms are As. Where does that put whatever you consider the best episode so far of Fresh off the Boat? Nothing in this fledgling show even approaches the worst episode of M*A*S*H or Arrested Development, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. But as much as I want this show to succeed, I can’t let it make excuses for itself. Nobody really wants a share of the first-place trophy just for trying. We all want it when we kick everyone else’s butts, with no qualifiers.