“Fresh Off the Boat” recap: “Showdown at the Golden Saddle”

So what happened on this week’s Fresh Off the Boat? There were Always-There Bears, an Ice Cube cd, adults spray-painting billboards, and mentions of Caddyshack. Let’s take a closer look at the episode in a non-linear format (because I feel like it):

Kid Eddie and the black fantasy: This could or could not make a larger post about how both black and Asian people are viewing Fresh Off the Boat and how entrenched it is in black culture. Thanks to Twitter, I have a lot of thoughts I’m trying to process into a cohesive post (I write a lot of these posts in my head first). But I’ll quickly say this: Kid Eddie suffers from what a lot of non-black kids suffer from, and that is believing that black people are cooler than they actually are.

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I say “Kid Eddie” because I don’t know the mind of Grown Man Eddie. Since he’s a grown man, I’d assume that he’s grown out of some of these things expressed on the show. I’m also saying “Kid Eddie” to differentiate the character from the actual person because, again, I don’t know the mind of Mr. Huang.

As far as Kid Eddie is concerned, it seems like he believes in the erroneous idea that one way to access life’s supply of Cool Cards is to live like he’s in a rap video. As Emery has already told him, life isn’t a rap video. But still, old habits die hard, and he’s a kid; of course he’s going to live his life through a fantasy. I’m not really knocking him as much as I am just pointing it out. I used to have the same kind of Cool Card ideas about anime and Japanese culture when I was a kid. I think everyone has done something like this in some fashion or another in their formative years. But that’s what growing up is for: you learn that the fantasy you have about other cultures is just that—a fantasy. As an adult, you realize that even though you might still like a certain culture, they’re people too, with their own thoughts about things.

I’m bringing all of this up because the way Eddie wanted to show Nicole that he was cool was by getting her to listen to Ice Cube’s then-latest cd. Since Jessica and Louis were going out to the country club with Honey and Marvin, Nicole was tasked with babysitting the Huang boys (or as Eddie would say, co-babysitting). After doing everything he could to get Nicole to listen to the cd, including eating a ton of Sriracha despite his weak stomach, Nicole finally pops the cd in her cd player and guess what? She likes it. Is Eddie now cool? A little bit. But Eddie’s still five-to-seven years younger than Nicole, so obviously, he doesn’t have a chance.

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I think one of the things that’s interesting as a black viewer is that I, as a black person, don’t think Kid Eddie’s cool for listening to rap music, while Kid Eddie thinks he’s ultra cool. I don’t think a lot of black viewers think he’s cool for that (though the degree of that sentiment varies between blasé to anger). Some of us might think he’s “down,” but that doesn’t mean he’s “cool.” In fact, I think Kid Eddie’s a big nerd because he lives in rap video fantasies.

Kid Eddie is just a kid who listens to rap, and a kid listening to rap isn’t something new to a culture that created rap. I think an argument could be made that Kid Eddie has “cool” currency with his white friends because of his rap acumen and “grown man” moves and none with Walter, who, as we have seen, is already bathed in The Struggle and probably isn’t impressed with Kid Eddie’s knowledge of rap, especially since it seems like Walter believes Eddie is trying to push him further down the “accepted minority” ladder.

Is all of this to say that I don’t like Kid Eddie? Far from it. I like seeing this kid deal with life and slowly come to terms with his ideas about where he fits in, how he relates to black culture, and what is and isn’t important when it comes to being accepted. Also, as the father of “Kid Eddie” Hudson Yang, Jeff, has alluded to on Twitter, there’s more of Walter that we haven’t seen yet. If you tune out, you’ll miss what he calls a pivotal arc in the show. I’ll let his tweets do the talking:

So there you have it. I figured as much; the show is basically setting itself up for this episode to happen. To me, that’s one of the most intelligent things about this show.

So to cut to the quick: Do I think the argument over when racial appreciation turns into appropriation can be analyzed to death by thinkpieces? Sure. Do I think the show is showing black people in a bad light? No. Do I think Kid Eddie means harm by indulging in rap fantasies? No (he’s a kid). Do I think it’s showing how everyone’s affected by America’s race politics? YES. DOUBLE YES. To me, it’s showing what life in America is like—an Asian kid using black music to score cool points and simultaneously find himself, while at the same time, the black kid already expects the Asian kid to push him down because he thinks the Asian kid probably sees himself as closer to white because a lot of black people have been taught this one way or another. I go into more detail in my first Fresh Off the Boat review. Okay, moving on. 

Billboard-gate: Poor Louis and his billboard. Poorer still when he feels like an imposter for making a Golden Saddle knockoff. But as Jessica says, everyone has knocked-off every other idea in the restaurant business. I forget the exact line, but they’re right in labeling every steakhouse restaurant for what they are and how they all are vying for that Morton’s money. Too true.

It was clearly in poor taste for the Golden Saddle guy to openly mock Louis on his own billboard, so he clearly had the “I am a butt” spray painted message coming to him. But how did Jessica and Louis get up there without no one seeing them? Heck, how did the Golden Saddle guy get up there? Maybe it’s just inconceivable to me because I’m deathly afraid of heights.

Jessica gets real: The moment Jessica went on a mini-tirade about Louis’ billboard being a hate crime and how, to paraphrase her, “white people don’t want to see minorities succeed,” I got intense flashbacks to, once again, my mom (and, to be fair, my dad as well). Of course, Louis was not the victim of a hate crime (even though the Golden Saddle guy has an Asian fetish, and that’s kind of not-kosher), but Jessica hit a nerve that I hope the show comes back to in a much deeper way.

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By the way, since I’m always mentioning how much Jessica is like my mom every recap, let me just interject with a quick story. I don’t know if it seems like it from my site, but I can get pretty melancholy about things, especially if it’s dealing with finances. So I was complaining to her about finding new work, and she, a homemaker, told me that she was thinking about going into real estate. We just saw Jessica go into real estate after hanging up the “homemaker” status. My mom doesn’t watch Fresh Off the Boat—she came to the real estate conclusion organically. Draw your own conclusions.

The Always There Bear: I was so sad that Evan got his Always There Bear taken away. Why couldn’t they just come back to the car so he could go to school!!! This precious angel got his precious sticker taken away!!!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH LIFE?!?!?!

Exaggerations, of course. But seriously, Evan is such a cute kid. All of those kids are cute. Between this show and black-ish, ABC has cornered the market on cute children.

Also, I didn’t have anywhere else to really put this, but nice shout-out to Boomerang in this episode. That film is a classic, and everyone should see it. The real version, not the one cut to fit network TV length and censorship.

That’s about it! What did you think of the episode? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

Photo credit: Ron Tom/ABC

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