‘Fresh off the Boat’ Episode Review: “Mo’ Chinese Mo’ Problems”

Fresh Off the Boat, Season 5, Episode 5: “Mo’ Chinese Mo’ Problems”
Original airdate November 9, 2018.

The ladies will kick it:  While going door to door as a U.S. Census volunteer, Evan discovers there’s another Chinese family in the neighborhood (Reggie Lee, Ming-Na Wen, and Jimmy O. Yang).  The Huangs and the Lees are overjoyed, but Louis feels his new buddy moving in on his friendship with Marvin, and Jessica becomes disillusioned when Elaine turns out not to be the role model she hopes.

Eddie and Emery, inspired by Evan, pose as Census volunteers in order to find out which neighbors have their own swimming pools and when during the day nobody’s home.

The rhyme that is wicked:  I’m not going to lie.  I’m totally here for anything Ming-Na is in (okay, except Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), so I was going to like this episode almost no matter what.  Add Jimmy O. Yang, this year’s runner up (to Awkwafina) for Summer of ________ status, and I’m willing to forgive almost anything.  I love the decision to play Queen Latifah’s “Ladies First” when Elaine saunters up to the mural wearing her low-rider jeans.  Everyone bows to Ming-Na.

There’s an interesting and almost surely deliberate irony when Jessica twice, in the company only of Louis and the Lees, utters stereotypes of Chinese people and Jewish men in an episode where she protests the stereotypical portrayal of Asians in a school mural.  I am not smart enough to break it down, so somebody please do it in the comments!

Deirdre is hilarious in this episode.

Lines I enjoyed:

“You always find fresh ways to be boring.” (Eddie)

“I’m usually four times more beautiful than this.” (Elaine)

“My oldest son’s middle name is Elvis.” (Louis)

“I hate racism and I love a trap.”  (Jessica)

“Betrayed by my beautiful face.” (Jessica)

“Maybe turn you into a sausage man.” (Marvin)

Those who don’t know how to be pros:  

I said I’d be willing to forgive just about anything.  Among “anything” are tons of overacting by all the principals including the guest stars (but not including Yang).

Is “whale tale” an anachronism?

FOB moment:  The Huangs welcome the Lees with a fruiting lemon tree.

Soundtrack flashback:  “Ladies First” by Queen Latifah (1989).  If you haven’t heard the early Latifah stuff, I recommend it highly.

Get evicted: The episode is rescued from a C by the end, with Horace’s redo of the We Are the World mural, plus of course the guest cast, whom I adore.  B.

 

‘Fresh off the Boat’ Episode Review: “The Flush”

Fresh Off the Boat, Season 3, Episode 17: “The Flush”
Original airdate March 15, 2017.

Microsynopsis:  Jessica takes Honey, Emery, and Evan on a road trip to Georgia in order to save the handling charge on a new recliner for Grandma.  At first it seems everyone is having a great time, but the boys are secretly catering to their mother in order to keep her from becoming a Road Grump.

Louis, learning only now that Eddie has kissed Alison, decides he hasn’t been spending enough time with his eldest, so he takes the opportunity to plan a Guys’ Weekend.  Eddie invites his friends when he learns that their weekend plans sound awful, and Trent brings a bottle of beer he bought from his sister.  Eddie take the first sip and, to his horror, learns about the Asian Flush.

Good:  If the Asian Flush has ever been mentioned on a prime time fictional program, I haven’t heard about it.  I love that in the show’s fifty-fourth episode, it’s still introducing new Asian-ness to prime time television.  I’m only noticing now that the boys in Eddie’s crew are developing a few decent acting skills.  Trevor Larcom (Trent) was already the best of them, but the others aren’t far behind.  The flashback scene (with Sheng Wang, Ali Wong, Jeremy Lin, and Ming-Na Wen) is cute.  Also: Hellllloooooo Ming-Na Wen.

Bad:  The road trip story is ridiculous, uninteresting, and kind of tired.  While it’s consistent with Jessica’s character (not to mention Evan’s and Emery’s), it really doesn’t develop any of the characters further than we were with them a year ago.  It feels like we’ve seen variations on this story at least five times.

FOB moment:  When Jessica enters the final stage of Road Grumpiness, she speaks only in Mandarin.

Soundtrack flashback:  “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C+C Music Factory (1990, sung terribly with the wrong words by Louis).  “Ice Cream” by Sarah McLachlan (1993).

Final grade, this episode:  Huge props for introducing a new (funny!) topic to TV, but cut the Jessica story down, and there could have been some funny moments with Eddie and his friends when the flush first breaks out.  Huge missed opportunity, especially since the road trip bit is draggy as heck.

The Golden Girls TV Guide is from January 31, 1987.  Has Brian been carrying that thing around since he was three? B-minus.

8Asians News: Carrie Fisher Undresses Ming Na Wen @ Dallas Comiccon

Howdy Dallas! Who's kickin' it with me tomorrow at @dallascomiccon? I brought the LA sunshine & my cowgirl boots!

A photo posted by Ming-Na Wen (@mingna_wen) on

At the Dallas Comicon, both Carrie Fisher and Ming Na Wen were in attendance, and apparently, according to Ming Na Wen’s Instagram, they had an exchange that included some undressing. Wen claims to have the video of said interaction between these two legendary women of sci-fi action hero fame.

This. Did. Happen. Carrie Fisher is Queen!!! #unforgettablemoments #starwars #maytheforcebewithyou

A photo posted by Ming-Na Wen (@mingna_wen) on

Here is Ming Na Wen’s feature at Dallas Comicon followed by Carrie Fisher:

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

So I’ve been watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. since last September 2013, and though it started up pretty slow, can be in some ways really corny, and nobody on the plane seems to know how to throw a decent punch, it’s actually pretty good. Things are starting to get real interesting as the mysteries of the characters’ pasts all start to unfurl, and I have to say, even though the second Thor movie was like “eh”, it was awesome that it actually was linked up and overlapped with the TV show.

Overall, I’d say, this is a pretty fun and action-packed show to watch after a long day of work, and with Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May and Chloe Bennet (born Chloe Wang), it is pretty cool that two out of the six main characters are American actors of Asian descent. Represent indeed.

Ming-Na Plays the First Lesbian Asian-American TV Series Regular on SyFy’s SGU

Ming-Na rocks. Seriously. Rocks.

And I love her even though she’s seriously messing with my fall season TV mojo. The thing is, I’m really trying to limit the number of new shows I get into this season. Originally, I only had Glee and Three Rivers on my list, but now I have to add Stargate Universe (SGU), too.

SGU is a military science fiction television series– part of the Stargate franchise– which debuted last night on Syfy (let’s not talk about the stupid re-branding of this cable station… whatevs!). The show follows the adventures of a present-day, multinational exploration team on board the ancient spaceship Destiny that is stranded in a distant corner of the universe and unable to return to Earth. Ming-Na is part of the regular cast as Camille Wray — the first regular Asian-American lesbian character on a TV series.

According to Wikipedia:

[Camille’s character] is an International Oversight Advisory (IOA) accountant who becomes the highest-ranking IOA member left stranded on the ship. She has “a false sense of importance and superiority to the other military and civilian population along with a stubborn way of asserting it”… She is the first openly gay character in the Stargate franchise. Her long-time partner back on Earth, Sharon, will first appear in “Life” in a possibly recurring role.

Incidentally, the role of Sharon is played by 24‘s Reiko Aylesworth, who is part-Asian (she’s of Dutch, Welsh, and Japanese ancestry). According to SheWired.com, fans of girl-girl action “can expect a fleshed-out relationship replete with some on-screen intimacy.” (If that doesn’t get people to watch this show, I’m really not sure what else would!)

This character is history-making, not only because of the character’s openness and ethnicity, but also because it comes at a time when there is a dearth of (regular) lesbian characters on television– the only other one is played by Jessica Capshaw on Grey’s Anatomy. Among the varied roles Ming-Na has played– animated heroine Mulan, a doctor on ER, and Chun-Li in Street Fighter to name a few– this is her first lesbian character, which also gave her the chance to do her first on-screen kiss with another female. (Yes, it has already been taped, says Ming-Na.)

Even though the show is brand new, leaks about the storyline have already hit the Internet. A few months ago, it was reported that Camille’s character is ostensibly depicted having sex with a man, causing an uproar in the LGBT community. When SheWired asked, “Why do you think people responded so vigorously to that plot point in which outwardly, it seemed as though the writers copped out on the whole lesbian aspect of you character?”

Ming-Na responded:

There was a lot of misunderstanding, because when you get a breakdown, it’s never what the end product is—at all. It was an eye opener because I did see the passion from the lesbian community.

I wish my own community, the Asian-American community, would be as passionate about stuff. I really respect that. I think the producers were definitely aware of it and then they tried to correct some of the wrong impression that was made based on the breakdown. And to me, it was just truly an incredible episode. I’m kind of nervous about just watching the outcome –not what the reaction is – because I think once you watch it you’ll realize that it’s about what we take for granted and if that is stripped away from us, how do people deal with what they’ve lost?

And that’s sort of the crux of our show. All these people stranded on Destiny have lost everything except the shirt on their back and all they’re left with is really facing themselves. There are a lot of great morality plays to be dealt with. It’s about life. It’s about all of us. We’re so distracted by the computer, by Twitter…by television, shopping, and all this bombardment of commercialism, but if you take it all away? Who are you really? [full story]

So who is Ming-Na really? Well, according to her Twitter profile (@MsMingNa), she (briefly) describes herself as an “Actress, Geek, Cook, Knitter, Gardener, Decorator and now twitterholic.”

I’d add “role model” and “kickass rockstar” to that list. Hooray to Ming-Na for depicting an Asian-American lesbian character– giving visibility to an often invisible community (she didn’t find out the character was lesbian until after she was already cast). I’m looking forward to watching her character develop on SGU.

If you missed the premiere episode, catch it for free on iTunes or at SyFy Rewind.