8 Asians

Fresh Off the Boat, Season 2, Episode 10: “The Real Santa”
Original airdate December 8, 2015.

IAN CHENMicrosynopsis: In order to provide Evan with a better role model, Jessica embellishes Santa Claus’s persona, giving him multiple graduate degrees and a Chinese ethnicity. Emery stresses out over the perfect gift for Jessica while Eddie advises him just to “let it ride,” espousing his philosophy of things eventually working themselves out.

Good: Jessica’s miniature Christmas town is hilarious, and although her Santa characterization story gets a little crazy, it’s difficult not to smile at her sincere efforts to give her youngest son an inspiring model. And yeah, I’m a sucker for the sentimentality of the season, so Evan’s unironic embracing of everything his mother shares kind of hits me right here.

This is another episode where Emery is more Eddie’s younger brother than Evan’s older brother, and it’s just a really good dynamic. Emery knows his brother well enough not to take everything he says at face value, but there seems also to be a sincere fondness between siblings that gives Eddie some of his best light. Eddie is also helped by his special relationship with his grandmother, who’s really funny in this episode.

fotb_S02E10 (17)Bad: Jessica’s solution to the Santa problem is just sooooooooooooo ridiculous, the only thing that keeps it from ruining the episode is the sincerity of her speech when Evan confronts her.

FOB moment: Jessica prepares zongzi for Chinese Santa’s visit.

Soundtrack flashback: “Dear Mama” by 2Pac (1995).

Final grade, this episode: It takes a few weird steps over the line into absurdity, in a way that seems out of character even for this show, but “The Real Santa” is a funny episode, with laughs from unexpected places (the Pan-Cultural Seasonal Entity for one, and Honey’s reminiscing about her cranberry bog experience for another), and some nice interactions between Eddie and Emery, Louis and Jessica, and Jessica and Honey. The actors seem to have found most of their places in two dimensions, enabling them now to delve a bit more into the third. B.

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