This week's Fresh Off The Boat blew my mind on multiple levels. Watching Eddie and his crew navigate the confusing, awkward territory of middle school relationships was painfully hilarious. But watching Louis invited to be a guest on the local morning news show, grappling with the burden to represent, was just plain genius.
Louis appears as a guest on Good Morning Orlando, charming everybody with his on-air impressions of Donald Duck and Sylvester Stallone. But when he gets home, Jessica calls him out on his buffoonery.
"We don't get opportunities to be on TV," she says. "That's why when we do we need to present our best face, not clown around like you did today." She likens his performance to one of the most notorious Asian stereotypes in the history of Hollywood movies -- Long Duk Dong of Sixteen Candles.
The spectre of the Donger hangs over a generation of Asian Americans -- including Louis, who is haunted by the character's catchphrases in a couple of hair-tastic flashbacks.
Guess what, America? A lot of us really hate that movie.
It's kind of awesome to see Fresh Off The Boat tackle Long Duk Dong head on. It's next-level brilliant to see the show wrestle with this idea of feeling representational anxiety -- "rep sweats," we like to call it -- when Asian Americans see ourselves depicted onscreen, if at all. Louis finds the weight of presenting "our best face" -- of all Chinese, everywhere -- to be a burden too heavy to bear.
Boom. I can't help but recall that we were having these conversations when Fresh Off The Boat premiered last spring. This episode is basically for everyone who called this show the best/worst thing to happen to Asians in the history of Asians. Hats off to the writers for going waaaay meta on us.
Anyway, if you feel like revisiting this episode, here's big ol' roundup of clips:
Eddie's recollection of the mosh pit as romantic is a bit flawed.
Eddie gets his first love school note.
Louis' impressions get him on TV.
Louis' amazing Sly Stallone impression.
Jessica thinks Louis just Long Duk Donged himself on TV.
Louis is shamed that he perpetuated a stereotype he hates.
The boys try to figure out who's dating who, but Walter's date is apparently obvious.
I made potstickers once, from frozen.
Louis is not feeling the morning show anymore.
Louis can't win.
The boys finally admit they don't know who they're dating.
Louis wins back the audience with a moonwalk.