Fresh Off the Boat, Season 4, Episode 9: “Slide Effect”
Original airdate December 5, 2017.
Synopsis: Eddie’s friends each sign up for school activities. Trent’s the newest member of the Safety Patrol, while the others get into the school play, the book club, and the cheerleading team. Eddie doesn’t like the image they project, and when Trent writes him up for breaking the dress code, he pushes back in order to cultivate what he hopes is his bad boy persona. This impresses the second-coolest group on campus, a trio of “hackers,” older guys who play Hacky Sack.
Jessica’s working on proofs for her novel, A Case of a Knife to the Brain, which is apparently set for publication. She can’t handle the pressure of being on the edge of her dreams’ realization while the prospect of failure remains in place. The stress extends to selecting an author’s photo for her book jacket, and Honey volunteers to photograph her.
Way: Yay for an episode that doesn’t try to cram everyone into a story. Louis, Emery, and Evan are background players here, and Grandma’s not in the episode at all. It’s okay! It’s been four seasons. We know who the Huangs are and we don’t have to see them deeply involved in every episode. It makes for better storytelling, especially since Eddie and Jessica are the best characters.
Trent comes to the door in a robe, with a towel wrapped around his head, and holding a plate of Oreos, saying, “I don’t want you to see me like this.” It’s one of a few laugh-aloud moments. And thank goodness for a high-school principal who doesn’t seem like a cartoon. The Louis gag where he’s on the phone with pollsters is funny, and the payoff in the last one, where he’s speaking to Grandma on the phone, is borderline hilarious.
No way: Nothing much to complain about. I didn’t enjoy the Rent/Brent bit, but that’s more because of awkwardness than any transgression in storytelling.
FOB moment: “I guess it’s true. Asian dads don’t say I love you.”
Soundtrack flashback: A parody of “Bad Boys” by Inner Circle (1987) where the refrain goes “Good boys, good boys; whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they friends with you?” “The Distance” by Cake (1996). And a parody of “Seasons of Love” from Rent (1996).
That Cake song brings back a ton of memories of my first year as a teacher. I bought the Fashion Nugget album in the year between my undergraduate studies and the beginning of my teaching career, and I discovered that it was very good music to listen to on endless repeat while grading endless papers. That was a rough, lonely year (you have no idea what a first-year teacher goes through unless you lived it or were married to someone who lived it), and I will always be grateful to Cake for helping me through.
A few days after my review for the last episode, someone named Taint Kirk messaged me on FB and said the mystery Gwar song was “Penguin Attack,” which I said I would confirm but still haven’t. I accidentally deleted the episode, so it’s going to take a bit before I do. But shout-out and thank you either way!
Final grade, this episode: Honestly, it was kind of a boring episode despite its pleasant tone and Nice Guy Eddie. B.