Friday, November 9, 2018

REVIEW: 'Fresh Off the Boat' - Jessica and Louis Become Friends with a New Family in 'Mo' Chinese Mo' Problems'

ABC's Fresh Off the Boat - Episode 5.05 "Mo' Chinese Mo' Problems"

Jessica and Louis are thrilled beyond belief when they discover that a Chinese family - Elaine, Julius and son, Horace - have moved into the neighborhood. Jessica immediately bonds with Elaine, who helps her solve an issue with the HOA. Louis introduces Julius to Marvin. When Evan goes door-to-door collecting information for the census, Eddie and Emery plan to impersonate being census takers to find out when the owners of a pool are out of the house so they can sneak over and use it.

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.

"Mo' Chinese Mo' Problems" was written by Jeff Chiang and directed by Claire Scanlon

It's so infectious to see how excited Jessica and Louis get about the potential of becoming friends with another Chinese family. Evan delivers the news in an exciting and urgent way too. Even though Jessica and Louis actually stalk Elaine and Julius in order to run into them, it still becomes an immediate friendship. Jessica and Louis now have peers in this community who understand the world in the same way that they do. They no longer have to explain things to the white people who define their lives. Sure, they absolutely love Marvin and Honey. Louis loves everything about America. But this specificity also means so much to them as well. It opens the door to new possibilities for all of them. Of course, it would also be boring if Elaine and Julius were mirror images of Jessica and Louis. In the beginning, that seems to be the exact way this story is being told. That wouldn't work for the grand message though because Jessica is pleading with her community to accept that people of all colors are vastly different from one another. Elaine and Jessica can both be proud of their sons' accomplishments. However, Jessica immediately becomes judgmental when she learns that Elaine's son, Horace, actually went to Harvard for art and is now driving a taxi around the city. Elaine still beams with pride for him though. She will gladly display all of his creations. Moreover, he isn't that different Jessica either. Sure, painting and writing are two vastly different art forms. And yet, they both ask the individual to be creative. This ultimately becomes a story about empowering voices to ensure that everyone is heard and appreciated. Jessica fights against the HOA because the "We Are the World" mural only depicts white children. She doesn't want the Chinese face to be a stereotype either. It shows the importance of hiring people of color to ensure the culture experience is well represented. When Horace takes over the redesign, it actually becomes a stunning piece of art that appreciates all walks of life. It is his unique perspective on the world that allows that to easily occur. It means that Jessica also has to accept that this should be normal as well. She shouldn't judge Elaine because of Horace's career. That shouldn't be the thing that ruins their friendship. They can still have each other's backs as well. Louis runs into the same problems with his friendship with Julius. He wants to welcome him into the friendship he already has with Marvin. They can all appreciate American things together. They have so much fun watching football and making comments about everything that happens. But Louis also feels pushed out because he can't relate to Marvin's new hobby of making sausage. And yet, none of this is a competition. That's an important lesson throughout all of this as well. There may be so many similarities amongst these characters. But they are not the same people who are expected to do the same things. They should champion each other and ensure that nothing comes in the way of their friendships. It's so meaningful that everything ends in a nice way that ensures that Elaine and Julius will remain a consistent part in Jessica and Louis' lives too. That's what they always wanted. And now, they have finally achieved it and accept them for who they are instead of just wanting to be friends with another Chinese couple.