Fresh off ABC, from an ABC

Feb 09

Last Wednesday ABC premiered its new comedy Fresh Off the Boat, the first American TV show to feature an all-Asian cast in 20 years. As an ABC, (American-Born Chinese) I waited for this show with great anticipation and understood the high stakes associated with its success, given how quickly All-American Girl was canceled in 1995. Essentially, this is a one-shot kind of deal before the lid on Asians in mainstream American media may be closed for another 20 years.

In fact, a lot of the coverage surrounding Fresh Off the Boat’s development, including commentary from Eddie Huang whose life the show is based on, focuses on the balance between providing an authentic portrayal, while still appealing to a non-Asian audience.

I felt the show’s pilot accomplished sharing a universal story of a family that moves to a new, foreign place and struggles to make the best of difficult situations. The difference is the added layers of discrimination specific to Asian immigrants and Asian Americans that are very in your face, and written for ABCs like me.

Asian actors posing as a TV family

[Image courtesy of ABC]

Is this focus too specific? Possibly, but this shouldn’t be a bad thing. Although Asian Americans are arguably a niche audience, it’s one to pay attention to because our market is almost completely untapped. Fresh Off the Boat is the first platform that offers Asians a voice in American pop-culture to tell our story. This is (hopefully) just the first story. My hopes for the show’s success are as follows:

  1. It stays on the air.
  2. It will open the door for Asians to enter mainstream American media outside of our minimal stereotypical roles as the mysterious martial arts guru, submissive geisha-like love interest, or overachiever nerdy sidekick.
  3. Through a strong Asian presence in mainstream American media, there will be a greater reason and opportunity for marketers to delve deeper into understanding these cultures, my culture, to create targeted campaigns.


As more and more Chinese immigrants enter the United States, this audience will only grow and become even more essential to target for business growth. Or, as Eddie Huang puts it, “Asians have money. You want their money, make things for them.”


This entry was posted on Monday, February 9th, 2015 at 5:51 pm and is filed under Media, Social Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Fresh off ABC, from an ABC”

  1. Josefina says:

    Fingers crossed that this show will thrive. We need more diversity on primetime, and we need to see people of all ethnicities recognized for their contributions to the fabric of America.

  2. Adrienne Chen says:

    I couldn’t agree more Josefina, which is why I know what I will be doing Tuesday nights at 8pm for the foreseeable future!

  3. Jenn Chu says:

    I LOVE the show b/c of its duality between the specific and the universal experience. What kid hasn’t felt like an outsider? What kid hasn’t dealt with navigating the politics of middle school? Yet not that many of us get made fun of for bringing Chinese food to school, or deal with a Tiger Mom on a daily basis (the ep where he points out Dr. Dre was a doctor was hilarious to me).