Fresh Off the Boat, Season 2, Episode 4: “Fall Ball”
Original airdate October 13, 2015.
Microsynopsis: Louis is beyond excited about Eddie’s upcoming Fall Ball, the first school dance for the middle-schooler. He offers to give Eddie and his friends pointers on making the evening a “life-changing experience,” including advice on dancing, attire, and hair. Jessica is surprised to be the only one who didn’t know Grandma was dating someone, a dentist who’s just died. When she learns that Grandma is receiving an inheritance, Jessica sees an opportunity to get involved in house-flipping.
Good: New character development with Honey, Jessica, and Grandma is strong, the kind of character-driven relationship-building I’ve longed to see more of in this show. Louis is over-the-top enthusiastic about the school dance, but that’s made up for with a sincerely progressive kind of parental advice centered not on his expectations for his boy, but on his boy’s comfort levels and self-confidence. I’m really big on family sitcoms being something young people can discuss with their parents (or whoever), and Fresh off the Boat consistently does well in this area.
Other pluses: The flashback with guest Jeremy Lin, not as himself, is cute, and it highlights something primetime television and professional basketball have in common. Eddie and Allison (the piccolo-playing girl from episode 2) get some time together at the dance, Honey is especially gorgeous this week, Simple Minds is in the soundtrack, someone finally calls Jessica out on her rudeness, and the school dance is one kind of awkwardness stacked on other kinds of awkwardness, like almost all middle-school dances.
Bad: Still not a fan of grownups at the school, and in this episode the other group of regular characters I don’t like, the Cattleman’s Ranch employees, show up in the school context too. Ugh.
FOB moment: “Don’t compare us to white people. They are the cruelest race.”
Soundtrack flashback: “Boombastic” by Shaggy (1995) and “Alive and Kicking” by Simple Minds (1985)! You can never have too much Simple Minds in school dance scenes.
Final grade, this episode: It’s borderline between a high B and a B+, but the writing in this episode is tight. B+.