Friday, November 2, 2018

REVIEW: 'Fresh Off the Boat' - Eddie Feels the Pressure to Be a Smart and Responsible Driver in 'Driver's Eddie'

ABC's Fresh Off the Boat - Episode 5.04 "Driver's Eddie"

Louis makes it his mission to teach Eddie how to be a good driver after a police officer makes an inappropriate Asian driver stereotype comment. Evan is jealous when he discovers that Grandma has only been inviting Emery to hang out with her at her new garage apartment.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of ABC's Fresh Off the Boat.

"Driver's Eddie" was written by Keith Heisler and directed by Anya Adams

Period comedies making jokes about how the world is changing for the better when the audience is fully aware of just how difficult things can still be isn't always a great source of humor. Here, the show actively tackles racism in regards to Asian driver stereotypes. Louis wants to ensure that Eddie is more informed about driving than any of his friends because there is an additional stigma attached to him simply because of his identity. Drivers ed may not be enough. Louis and Jessica are absolutely right to make sure that Eddie is more prepared than he has to be. Sure, they become too stern in order to go to a ridiculous and broad place for the sake of the story. But it still resonates as well. And yet, there are still plenty of jokes about how the world is changing and may not be as racist as what they have always known. The family goes to see Rush Hour in the movie theater simply because they are tired of always having to explain why they haven't seen it despite being Asian Americans. That too shows just how lame and uninspired the world is in trying to make a connection with people who look different. It also highlights the importance of representation on the screen. This show has always been super relevant in that regard because it's a family comedy starring an Asian-American cast. It holds even more resonance now because of the success over the summer of Crazy Rich Asians which also starred Constance Wu. As such, there is the hope that things continue to move in the right direction. But progress is still very slow. That's the grand lesson that the audience should be aware of throughout this story. Louis learns that he needs to be more willing to let Eddie go. He has already experienced racism in the world. He understands the stereotypes. He hasn't been sheltered from them. He has had a unique cultural experience growing up as well. It may be different than the generations that came before him. But he understands how to survive in this world. So, he may be impulsive and want to get behind the wheel as soon as possible. He feels pressure from his peers to do so because they have much more lax guardians who are teaching them. It's also ridiculous to think that Brian is a year older than the rest of his friends even though he's the smallest of all of them. It's easier to understand Louis and Jessica's perspective throughout this story. The show ties it all together with Marvin articulating what teaching a kid to drive means for the parents. He went through it already with Nicole. He knows this is a new form of independence. It will lead to Eddie needing them less. But he should still be trusted with this responsibility as well. Louis ultimately has to trust that he is a smart and capable driver no matter what anyone else says. The subplot also finds the characters trying to push past how the world sees them. Evan doesn't understand why his family sees him as a stick in the mud. He also doesn't see how that could be a bad thing. But he ultimately tries to change and not have to correct everyone all the time. That too is an understandable impulse from Grandma and Emery. That can be a lot to handle even though Evan is frequently a funny character. Plus, it's hard not to when Grandma's stories are that broadly ridiculous.