Fresh Off the Boat, Season 3, Episode 4: “Citizen Jessica”
Original airdate November 1, 2016.
Microsynopsis: Cattleman’s Ranch is serving as a polling place for the 1996 general election. Jessica and Louis take opposing sides on a proposition to build a wall keeping illegal immigrants out of Florida, while Emery and Evan support opposing candidates in the Clinton-Dole presidential election. In a move to get wall protestors removed from the premises, Jessica discovers that she is herself an illegal immigrant. Eddie can’t be bothered with trivialities like presidential elections: he is too consumed with the recent murder of Tupac Shakur, while tensions with his friends over who killed him threaten their relationships.
Good: I love the concept of using the elections of twenty years ago to make a statement about the elections today, and I love the table-turning on Jessica as she discovers she’s officially in the country illegally. There’s a really funny argument at the lunch table with Eddie and his friends, and it’s funny how Grandma has an opinion about who killed Tupac.
Bad: It’s really difficult to be genuinely funny when you spend so much time preaching, and this is a very preachy episode. Louis preaches to Jessica about the importance of voting, and later he preaches to her about Hector’s difficult situation. Grandma preaches to Eddie about keeping his friendships intact. Evan preaches to Louis about the electoral college. Emery even kind of preaches to a customer about the futility of voting for a third-party candidate. And I get that Jessica is super competitive, but calling the INS on Louis’s cook is way over the line, even for her. Ugh.
FOB moment: “I’m a legal immigrant. I did it the right way. I went through the immigration process; I waited my turn. I didn’t jump the line. This is just about fairness.” — Jessica, unaware that she’s actually in the country illegally.
Soundtrack flashback: “Toss it Up” by Tupac (1996).
Final grade, this episode: This is an uncharacteristically unfunny episode, a clever idea that doesn’t work because it smacks us over the head with its messages. C-minus.