Fresh Off the Boat, ABC, Fridays 8pm
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Caution: potential spoilers.
A 2015 sitcom set in 1995, about a Taiwanese-American family who move from Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown to Orlando. (So, they're not really "fresh off the boat," but I guess they'll still struggle to fit in.) The show is narrated from the present by Eddie Huang, a celebrity chef whom I don't recall having ever heard of. But the show is set when he's 11 years old, and young Eddie's defining characteristic is that he's obsessed with hip-hop. His father, Louis, moved his family to Orlando to open a steakhouse called Cattleman's Ranch. Mainly he did this so he could stop working at his obnoxious brother-in-law's furniture store. But his wife, Jessica, while supportive, isn't particularly happy about leaving all her friends behind, and she's always worried about the fact that the restaurant isn't making money yet. Um... also, Eddie has a couple of popular, overachieving younger brothers, Emery and Evan. (Emery is the middle child. Evan is the youngest, and the one with the closest relationship with their mother.) And Louis's mother lives with them. She doesn't say much, but when she does it's something snarky in Chinese (with English subtitles). Jessica makes a friend named Honey, whom the other women in the neighborhood dislike. I guess she's the second wife of this rich guy named Marvin (Ray Wise), and stepmother to his teenage daughter, Nicole, on whom Eddie develops a crush. And Nicole hates Honey, for no apparent reason. Eventually, Jessica becomes a realtor. And the restaurant finally starts making a profit. And... there are various other characters, including employees at Cattleman's Ranch (Mitch and Nancy), Eddie's friends at school, and various neighbors, none of whom I feel are important enough for me to learn their names.
Anyway, the show is reasonably amusing, and occasionally there are aspects to it that I like a lot for being particularly clever or surreal. Like, we sometimes see fantasy sequences of what Eddie is imagining. And... I dunno. The show has been pretty well-received, critically, but personally, I mostly just found the first (13 episode) season good... but not great. But it grew on me somewhat in the second season. (I still wouldn't call it great, but I like it more, as I get more invested in the characters.)
The show no longer includes narration. Nicole repeats the eighth grade, so she sometimes hangs out with Eddie and his friends. Also, Eddie gets a girlfriend named Alison, who seems like a good match for him, since they share various interests. Jessica, Honey, and Grandma Huang go into business together, buying and fixing up a house to flip. Near the end of the season, Emery graduates from elementary school. Also I should say that Eddie's friends grew on me somewhat, throughout this season, and their names have started sounding familiar to me when I hear them, but I still haven't learned to remember which is which. And there's not much I can say about any of them in terms of personality or anything, except that one of them occasionally expresses his feelings about having been abandoned by his father (which Eddie usually ignores, being more concerned with his own trivial interests). And another of them occasionally makes references to The Mask, which none of his friends get. Anyway, I guess that's all I can think to say about season two.
So, um... various things happen this season. Emery starts middle school. Eddie and his friends mourn the death of Tupac Shakur, and later of the Notorious B.I.G. Jessica obtains her U.S. citizenship (having previously just continually renewed her green card status). Jessica meets Nicole's mother (Marvin's ex-wife), Sarah (Heather Locklear). At the end of the season, Evan gets into an expensive private school. Michael Bolton becomes a "silent" partner in Cattleman's Ranch, so it's now called "Michael Bolton's Cattleman's Ranch." Jessica was brokering the sale of a large house, and the money Louis got from Bolton allowed them to buy the house, which was closer to Evan's new school. Meanwhile, Eddie would have to go to a different school than his friends next fall, which eventually led to a falling out between them. However, Emery inadvertently gets Evan's admission to the private school revoked, and Jessica decides to back out of the purchase of their new house... but when they move back to their old home, they find it's already being rented by a new family, so now they have nowhere to live.
The Huangs temporarily move in with Honey and Marvin, but soon move back to their old house. Michael Bolton sells his shares of Cattleman's Ranch to Kenny Rogers, so it's now called "Kenny Rogers' Michael Bolton's Cattleman's Ranch." Unlike Bolton, we don't actually see Rogers on the show. Instead he's represented by a "transition manager" named Matthew Chestnut (Matt Oberg, whom I knew from The Real O'Neals). Eddie starts high school, so Emery is looking forward to being the only Huang in middle school. However, it turns out Evan has skipped a grade, so now he's in middle school, too. Also, Emery is having a year of bad luck. Meanwhile, Eddie's friends are still mad at him. But when something stupid he does causes Alison to break up with him, they forgive him to show solidarity, or whatever, so the friendship is renewed. Also, Alison is still sort of friends with Eddie, despite their not being together anymore. Also, Nicole comes out as gay. Marvin gets his vasectomy reversed so he and Honey can try to have a child together. Grandma starts learning English, and her class is taught by a man named Bernard (George Takei). (It's odd, it always seemed she understood others speaking English well enough, even if she didn't speak it herself.) Jessica finishes writing a novel, which I guess she started in a previous season. And Honey eventually does get pregnant. Toward the end of the season, Kenny Rogers faces bankruptcy, which provides Louis with the opportunity to buy back Kenny's share of the restaurant. This also means Kenny fires Matthew, but Louis then hires him (though in what capacity, I'm not sure). And of course, various other things happen throughout the season, but I think that's all the important stuff.
Jessica's book is released, but it doesn't sell. Honey has her baby, who is named Maria. Nicole moves to New York, which upsets Eddie. Eddie gets a job at a furniture store. Louis and Jessica befriend an Asian couple who have just moved to town, Julius (Reggie Lee) and Elaine (Ming-Na Wen). Honey gets pregnant again. Matthew quits his job at Cattleman's Ranch to take a job at Dollywood. Louis hires Eddie's friend, Trent, to work at Cattleman's. And I expect I'll say more as the season progresses.