It’s no secret: Fresh Off The Boat has been hugely impactful to the AAPI community. One particular subset that has connected with the show are AAPI mothers, particularly first-generation parents who gravitate to Constance Wu’s funny, poignant and nuanced portrayal of an intelligent, fiercely passionate fish-out-of-water immigrant mother in Jessica Huang.
That may be at least partially why AAPI family bloggers reacted with such dismay earlier this week with news that a Disney-ABC mommy blogger junket that included a screening and cast meet-and-greet for Fresh Off The Boat and Big Hero 6 included no self-identifying Asian American or Pacific Islander family bloggers. Lack of AAPI representation at this junket was a missed opportunity to engage with the AAPI community surrounding programming of particular significance to us.
Yesterday, I blogged about why these kinds of promotional junkets are important, and how Disney-ABC could stand to benefit by increasing engagement with Asian American consumers.
Today, we’ve got some amazing news from this studio: it looks like Disney-ABC heard us!
Last night, the hotly-anticipated new ABC single-camera sitcom, Fresh Off The Boat, debuted in a special preview event: the series’ first two episodes aired in a bookend fashion around ABC’s Wednesday night anchor show, Modern Family (displacing for one week Anthony Anderson’s Black-ish); despite its clunky interrupted format,FOTB earned a solid 2.5 rating in the 18-49 demographic making it the second highest ranked comedy premiere this season and attracting better ratings than the most recent episode of Black-ish.
Nonetheless, Fresh Off The Boat deserves kudos for being one of the few primetime shows — of any genre — to engage Asian American creative talent at all levels of production: inspired by the autobiography of a Taiwanese American celebrity chef, the show also boasts an Asian American producer, writers, and lead cast. For this reason, FOTB‘s voice (unlike that of many of its predecessors) rings clear as undeniably Asian American, and therefore marks a pioneering moment for the representation of an Asian American lived experience in mainstream television.
Last week, ABC made history by green-lighting two new sitcoms for their fall lineup that will include Asian American men in leading roles.
Earlier in the week, ABC announced it was picking up Selfie, a sitcom adaptation of My Fair Lady. Scottish actress Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) plays Eliza Dooley who enlists the help of Henry, an arrogant marketing expert (and likely love interest) played by John Cho (Star Trek, Sleepy Hollow, Harold & Kumar, Better Luck Tomorrow), to help her rebuild her image after a humiliating break-up goes viral and launches her social media presence into the stratosphere.
Selfie features a racially diverse cast, and with its pickup, Cho will join only a small handful of Asian American men currently on TV as lead characters in primetime sitcoms.