May 14, 2014

NIELSENWAR 2014-15 Trailer Review: ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat”


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THE FACTS:  Based on the memoir of chef Eddie Huang, it’s the story of a Chinese-American family that moves from Washington, where there’s a thriving Asian community, to Orlando, Florida, where there isn’t one.  The focal point is young Eddie, but the heavy lifting comes from his dad, who’s all-in on the American Dream (the Orlando move is because he’s opening the local branch of a steak restaurant franchise), and mom, who’s perplexed by it all.  The series creator is Nahnatchka Khan, who was behind Don’t Trust the B____.

WHAT IT’S SAYING:  Another entry in the “my parents are crazy” subgenre of warmhearted sitcoms that’s recently given us The Goldbergs, Growing Up Fisher, and Surviving Jack–but with an ethnic twist.

WHAT IT’S REALLY SAYING:  Whatever our background may be, we all like to watch sitcoms about parents who mortify their children.  The trailer is surprisingly cartoonish, which maybe isn’t a surprise coming from Khan.  The Asian milieu is a relatively fresh one to serve as the center of a sitcom, but figuring out just how broad this can get without offending people may be a challenge.

THE OUTLOOK:  Although The Goldbergs has been a moderate success, both of the other “oy, my parents” comedies are already gone, suggesting there may be limited interest in the format.  The good news is that ABC, unlike NBC or FOX, has plenty of family comedies, and it could put this behind The Middle, Last Man Standing or (in its dreams) Modern Family and it would get a sampling.  The series should have a shot, although the tone and lack of promotable cast members make it far from a sure thing.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."