{TB Talks TV} Fresh Off The Boat Review: “The Shunning”/ “Success Perm”

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Tweetable Takeaway: It’s all about fitting in. Eddie hits on Honey, Louis drives business to the Cattleman’s Ranch.

Airtime: Tuesday at 8pm on ABC

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continues flexing its funny muscles with The Shunning. Hudson Yang delivers another outstanding performance, as Eddie tries to fit in at school where he is harassed about wearing nurse’s shoes instead of Air Jordan’s. His mom, Jessica, is also struggling to fit in with the other neighborhood women. Fans of awesomeness will appreciate the appearance of Huang’s neighbor Calvin, played by the inimitable Ray Wise who returns from vacation with his younger, hot wife, Honey.

The lasting charm of the mid 90’s

This is 1995 and the Internet hasn’t become the genie-bottle of answers that is today. In the absence of friends, Eddie turns to the best example of social advancement he can find, the Hip Hop video. Surely, the ODB knew how to succeed with women. Eddie has a fantasy complete with his own fly-girls, featuring the neighbor, Honey.

Jessica stresses her social position at the upcoming Daytona 500 block party. The Huangs know nothing about NASCAR, but Louis sees it as a prime opportunity to network and build business for his patron-anemic Cattleman’s Ranch restaurant.

They drive down to the pre-internet media distributor of choice, the video store. Before Internet Explorer, video stores had these great little areas, usually barely hidden by a beaded drape, for adult videos. The boys quickly spot the adult section and do a walk by, just to catch a glimpse. While Eddie’s eyes are opening, Jessica gravitates to the playing Dolores Claiborne where she bumps into Honey, who also knows King’s stories by heart. Eddie sees Honey there in her fuzzy, pink sweater and hits on Honey. He’s confident and fearless.

Jessica plans a movie night with Honey, delighted to find someone who likes the same things. However, Evan, the youngest son, returns from a block party planning meeting with a nasty piece of intelligence; none of the other women like Honey. They consider her a home wrecker. Louis asks Jessica to find a different friend, one more likely to drive business to their failing restaurant. Jessica weighs her need to be friends with Honey versus someone more popular. She knows they need the business and she puts her energy into the pack of mean girls.

The block party does not start well for Louis, but Jessica makes quick friends with the meanies and when Honey approaches, they all give her a cold shunning.

What do you know about young love?

Eddie is all dressed and ready to seduce Honey. This is tough enough for a twenty-two year old man, but the twelve your old Eddie is fearless and reckless with his charms. His hilarious attempt is a disaster; he has no EQ read on Honey’s mood and recently trampled feelings. Honey heads to the potluck table, Eddie goes to the kiddie pool where his brother Emery is lounging with his two girlfriends. He asks why love is so difficult? “Cause real life isn’t a rap video Eddie,” says his insightful younger brother.

Jessica spots Honey eating a tofu dish she made, something the other women would not touch. She quickly decides a friend is more valuable to her than her fake allegiance to the meanies. She picks up the mic, as the other ladies are about to karaoke, and sings a stunning rendition of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You to her real friend Honey. Jessica, played brilliantly by Constance Wu, has an incredible voice. It takes one to pull off Whitney. Calvin, Honey’s husband, and the other men at the block party are also impressed. Louis just at the chance to assure them she sings regularly at the Cattleman’s Ranch.

Honey feels the love. Her mood lifted, she offers to give Eddie a moment in front of the kids he wants to impress; a peck on the cheek, a hand hold or something. Eddie asks for a full-on hug of at least three seconds. Honey goes along until Eddie gets a little gropey. Courageous is just one word that describes Eddie. As Honey steps away, her stepdaughter, Nicole, arrives in a fantastic slomo entrance. As some neighborhood kid takes a shot towards the basketball hoop, she knocks it away and does a little victory dance. Eddie locks onto her as a lawn dart finds its home in Eddie’s back. He falls, in pain, in love. Jessica and Louis rush to him where Louis, ever the optimistic businessman shouts, “Somebody call an ambulance, there’s a hospital right near Cattleman’s Ranch.”

The great thing about these guys is they struggle with what’s important in life.

Family shows explore values and virtues. Modern Family, which is fantastic, is mostly about the adults. Black-ish, also extraordinary, tends to be about bridging gaps; generational, political, and social. Fresh Off The Boat is more about Eddie, a courageous kid who feels out of place. His parents are a fantastic support unit. Nothing comes easy to Louis. He gambles on a business that isn’t going well when he takes it over. However, Louis is creative, optimistic, and determined to reap the security that comes with hard work. Jessica is very aware and clever. Her eyes and ears are always open and she is one hell of a problem identifier and solver. They are tested and constantly moving forward, figuring things out. They’re the best kind of American family.

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Eric lives in a world where the television is great, the smiles are warm, the pizza is hot, the puppies are playful, and the zombies are slow and meander while he reloads.
Twitter: @etom2012

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