“Fresh Off the Boat” recap: “Persistent Romeo”

It took a long time to get to this recap because I was spending about four hours writing this huge, educated read of Ester Bloom and her stupid “Lean-in” article. But now I’m to lighter things, and I’m glad.

In this episode, “Persistent Romeo,” Eddie is adamant about getting in good with the popular white kids. Since he can’t go to their home (Jessica’s afraid of there being pedophiles), he invites them to his home. The catch, leader of the pack Brock states, is that Eddie has to bring a dirty movie. The other kids have older brothers and cousins that have dirty magazines and movies, but Eddie, of course, has younger brothers who are more interested in gambling with Grandma and playing with an ADORABLE huge stuffed bunny than look for dirty vids.

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Eddie’s problems are solved when his friends come across the sexual harassment video his parents are using to train the Cattlemen’s Ranch staff. The popular kids are stupider than I expected, since they believe the sexual harassment video is an actually porno.

The kids then go to school the next day, sexually harassing the girls with the stuff they learned from the film, leading the principal to call Eddie’s parents. The principal advises telling Eddie about the birds and the bees, but not with birds and bees. He advises watering cans and flowers or whatnot. Stuff that doesn’t make sense. Louis, though, goes about it the Real G way and tells Eddie everything he’d want to know (or never knew) about sex and growing up as a young man full of hormones. I was uncomfortable. I was also left confused, since I don’t know what “Black Spring Break” is. Someone please let me know what that’s supposed to mean.

In any event, Eddie goes back to school cooler than ever. He not only impressed the kids with a “dirty” movie, but he also told them he knows more about sex than they do, and he can teach them. That’s something the Brock can’t do.

Some thoughts:

Evan and Emery steal the show: Evan and Emery are quickly joining the black-ish kids in my “Favorite Kids” group. These two are some of the cutest kids ever. Evan throwing the raisins as a distraction, yelling “They used to be grapes!” while Eddie, in his grandmother’s coat, tries to sneak into the adult section of the video store and his reacting to Grandma schooling him in poker were the best parts of the night.

Eddie and Walter: Eddie’s got to stop wanting to fit in with the white kids. I know the compulsion, though—I went to a mostly-white high school, and every day, I saw the black kids either wanting to fit in with the “popular” white kids or black kids deciding to become hyper-black and stick together. I was somewhere in the middle, but I was also riddled with self-doubt and low self-esteem. (By the way, I say “popular” because I went to an art school. Technically, no one was really popular.) It would seem that Eddie and Walter exhibit both sides of the “minority in a majority place” dynamic.

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Walter, on the one hand, realizes that Eddie is the only other minority in his class and that it might behoove them to be friendly and stick together. Eddie, on the other hand, kinda realizes it, but he’s more concerned with fitting in at the moment. All of this is ironic, since Eddie takes a lot from black culture in order to find his place in the world. Perhaps I’m pulling an Ester Bloom here, but it seems like Eddie (the character, not the man) is suffering from some self-esteem issues. He doesn’t want to be different, even though he relishes the thought of it, what with his oversized rap video clothes and rap tapes. He’s yet to find himself, which makes sense, since he’s just a kid.

Do they become friends in real life? I have no idea; I haven’t read Eddie’s book yet. Do I hope they become friends in the show? Yes. I know Walter called Eddie a bad word and hopefully, in real life, he was roundly punished for it. But, as I’ve written before, Eddie and Walter are both victims of America’s white supremacy. We’re only five episodes into the series, so I’m sure we’ll see Eddie grow up from his current well of desperation.

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Eddie and Nicole: EDDIE. Why do you have such bravado at such a young age? Why would you ask a girl to do video vixen things like wiping down a sudsy car while grinding on it? Why are you so awkward? I know you’re just a kid, but wow.

The plastic couch: There was nary a plastic covering on a couch in my parents home, but I didn’t laugh at seeing Jessica cover hers, either. Well, I laughed, but not from a “Oh wow! Do people do that?”perspective. From my worldview, the plastic couch was something the older set do, like grandparents. There’s many a black person who will tell you that their grandmother or great-grandmother still has plastic on the couches to “keep them fresh.” The plastic couch is both loved and derided.

Jessica’s worrying: Jessica and my mom would be great friends. Both are homemakers (although Jessica seems to be getting a job soon), both worry about grades, and both worry about safety, germs, and general health. Jessica’s reason for not letting Eddie and his brothers spend the night at friends’ homes is the same reason my mother didn’t want us at people’s homes at night: pedophiles.

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Both women also worried about razor blades in apples. That was a big story back in the ’80s and ’90s, particularly when it dealt with idiots giving razor-apples to kids for Halloween. Because of that, my mom would make us throw out the Halloween candy we’d get from the neighborhood. Yes. We’d trick-or-treat like everyone else, but then come home and throw away the candy because she assumed that they could have poisoned it or that it was old. We’d only be able to eat candy she bought from the store.

Jessica did allow Eddie to have a slumber party. And, to be fair to my mom, we may not have been able to sleepover with our friends, but we were able to go to our friends’ houses for playdates or parties. Even so, both moms are helicopter moms and while sometimes it’s a little extreme, they both mean well.

Mandarin vs. Mandarin: The sexual harassment “expert” Jessica and Louis brought in for the restaurant’s training seminar is a creep, and they rightly talk about him to each other in Mandarin. BUT, lo and behold, the dude knew exactly what they were saying and called them out on it.

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One of the writers on the show, Sanjay Shah, tweeted that the actor in this role, Brett Gelman, actually knows how to speak “university-level” Mandarin. Similarly, as a rudimentary Spanish speaker, it’s my dream to be able to become fluent in Spanish just to call people out if I hear them talking about me. In fact, this is my motivation to learn any language. I can be petty sometimes, I guess.

Overall, another solid episode! What did you think of the episode? Give your opinions in the comments section below.

Screencaps from Fresh Off the Boat. ABC photos, photo credit: Eric McCandless/ABC

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