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The controversial hit comedy series, Fresh Off the Boat, turned heads when it first aired back in 2015. The show is so attention-grabbing that one of ABC’s other shows, Roseanne, made some questionable comments about the beloved sitcom that landed the producers in hot water.

Fresh Off the Boat follows a family of Chinese immigrants who live in America in the 1990s. It humorously chronicles the experiences of an 11-year old hip-hop enthusiast and his family after a jarring relocation. The family moves from inclusive Chinatown in Washington D.C. to white suburbia in Orlando, Florida where they do their best to assimilate into their new surroundings.

What makes ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ so popular?

Everyone everywhere was talking about Fresh Off the Boat when it first dropped. The conversation spurred continues to this day. What was the driving force? Fresh Off the Boat is a show covering a sadly underrepresented as well as gravely misrepresented minority in Hollywood. The show exposes viewers to your average American family, just through an entirely different lens.

The popular sitcom is a significant movement within the media industry considering the sordid history of Asian Americans on television. It’s so crucial that ultimately it doesn’t even matter if the show sucks. So long as it doesn’t devolve into stereotypical dribble, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Many viewers agree that the show has successfully shed light on the experiences of immigrants in America but is it based on real events?

Is ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ a true story?

The story is loosely based off of the life of an inspirational chef and iconic TV personality, Eddie Huang. Huang wrote a memoir by the same name discussing his experience as an Asian American immigrant. Initially, Huang started a blog to document his experiences, but in 2013 that blog was transformed into a wildly successful memoir. Just one year after the memoir’s release it caught the attention of ABC. They purchased the rights and immediately began turning the memoir into the sitcom fans rave over today.

The show closely follows some of the Huang family’s movements. It copies the move from D.C. to Florida and includes his father’s adventures into the restaurant industry. It depicts Huang as the hip-hop loving guy that he still is to this day. While he was young his mother wasn’t very fond of his allure to the culture, that to is accurately depicted in the show. It even covers how Huang got his early start in cuisine. Despite all of the paralleld the successful chef isn’t pleased with how his baby, Fresh Off the Boat, has turned out.

Eddie Huang doesn’t co-sign his own show

Randall Park and Constance Wu pose for a painting
Fresh off the Boat | ABC

While the pilot of the show pleased Huang, it took a turn for the worst from that second episode onward. According to Huang, the show strayed so far from the source material he doesn’t even recognize the depiction of his own life. It’s so distressing for him he doesn’t even bother to tune in to the show.

For the creator of a show to shun it, things must be pretty bad. ABC took it upon themselves to essentially neuter his memoir, making it more “palatable” for the average viewer. For example, Huang covered some childhood trauma in his memoir, discussing domestic abuse and the events that almost tore his family apart. Despite him imploring with ABC to cover his childhood accurately, they excluded a life-changing part of his younger years.

While the show’s creator is no longer on board, there are plenty of fans who were able to see themselves clearly in the family brought to life on screen. Even if the show isn’t perfect, the fact that it exists is a big deal for Asian Americans and other minorities worldwide. While he may not be happy, Huang has been able to somewhat accept how things turned out. After all, It’s the first step towards the accurate and uninhibited representation of underrepresented cultures around the world.