‘Fresh off the Boat’ Episode Review: “Jessica Place”

Fresh Off the Boat, Season 2, Episode 19: “Jessica Place”
Original airdate April 5, 2016.

fotb_s02_e19 (1)Microsynopsis: Jessica gets into a homeowners’ association conflict with Deirdre when, hoping to make her life more like Melrose Place, she installs an above-ground pool for her family. Emery loses his temper when Eddie cheats at a breath-holding contest in the pool, leading Eddie to advise him not keep everything bottled up.

Good: This show gets stupid-stupid sometimes, but this Melrose tribute is kind of smart-stupid. Not only are the stylistic choices reminiscent of the 90s primetime soap (which I admit I never watched; I was a 90210 guy), but the writers use the device to develop Honey’s character as less secure in her relationship with Jessica than she’s appeared so far, and to humanize the previously cartoonish Deirdre, whose confession in the show’s final minutes gives her some understandable motivation for her meanness to Honey. It seems unlikely to expect Deirdre to become pleasant, and I don’t think we want her to, but it’s nice to give her a little bit of depth, which will make the acting better.

fotb_s02_e19 (4)Bad: There are a few moments that don’t ring true. Honey not knowing the name of her step-daughter’s mother makes no sense at all. And while Emery’s first explosion is pretty good, the rest of his outbursts are not well acted. It also feels a little strange that Emery has this psycho side to him. We’ve already had some psycho-ness with Evan this season, and now we’ve got some from Emery. It’s not a good trend.

FOB moment: Jessica, addicted to Melrose Place, is so unfamiliar with American television that she doesn’t know about the summer hiatus.

Soundtrack flashback: Ah. I don’t know how accurate the Melrose Place theme music or soundtrack music is in this episode, but it’s close if it’s not the actual music. That’s all I’ve got.

Final grade, this episode: I said earlier this season that Forrest Wheeler is emerging as the best actor of the three Huang sons, but Hudson Yang in the past few episodes has really grown into his character’s skin. He’s been the better actor lately, and it’s nice to see. Constance Wu and Randall Park continue to be the strength of the show, pulling off some great comedic acting that I find unusual in primetime sitcoms nowadays. It’s a silly, fun episode. B.

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About Mitchell K. Dwyer

@scrivener likes movies.
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