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Why 'Fresh off the Boat' Is Important for Sitcoms

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May 27, 2014 | 10:56am EDT

Fresh off the BoatABC Television Network

It can’t be denied that there is a lack of diversity in American sitcoms. Many revolve around white — or mostly white — characters and, currently, none focus on an Asian-Americans. In fact, the last comedy to follow a wholly Asian-American family was Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl, which ran for one season in 1994. However, ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat will premiere on the network this fall and it seems to have a lot of potential. 

First off, have you seen the trailer for Fresh Off the Boat? Although watching the trailers and promos for all the new network shows that will debut this fall may make many people quite jaded, Fresh Off the Boat stood out from the rest because it was actually hilarious. Secondly, the show seems to be a very genuine look into the life of an Asian-American family in the ‘90s. It looks this way because the show is based on the memoir of the same name by Eddie Huang. So, the story of Fresh Off the Boat is rooted in reality, managing to be entertaining and genuine at the same time.

If you’re doubtful of how American sitcoms can manage authenticity, take a look at the trailer for ABC’s other upcoming comedy, Christela. While it’s heartening to see ABC trying to diversify the families featured on the network’s comedies, there is a stark contrast between Christela and Fresh Off the Boat. While Christela seems to draw all its humor from tired stereotypes, Fresh Off the Boat is more about combating stereotypes by giving viewers a more honest look into the featured family.

It may be important for networks to diversify, especially within their sitcom families, but it’s also important to create quality television, which is entirely possible to do with non-white characters without relying on exhausted jokes based in horrible stereotypes. Although it may be a bit premature to say so, Fresh Off the Boat seems to be a promising example of how networks can diversify and make fantastic shows.

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