For a comedy, ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat has generated a lot of behind the scenes drama ranging from controversy concerning the title of the show to an international political crisis. Here’s 15 behind the scenes facts you probably didn’t know about Fresh Off the Boat:
1. Fresh Off the Boat is the first network TV show centered around an Asian American family since Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl which debuted in 1994, over twenty years ago.
2. By the end of season two, Fresh Off the Boat will be the longest running show about an Asian American family in television history, ahead of All-American Girl (19 episodes) and Mr. T and Tina (5 episodes).
3. The series is (loosely) based on restaurateur Eddie Huang‘s memoir Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir. Huang even served as the narrator of the show during the first season.
4. Last year, Huang penned an article for New York Magazine, where he praised the show for airing an episode dealing with the word “chink” as the pilot, but criticized Fresh Off the Boat for not going far enough. In particular, Huang pushed for a storyline concerning domestic violence, something Huang lived through as a child.
5. Huang eventually resigned from his role as narrator for season two of the series, tweeting “It got so far from the truth that I don’t recognize my own life.”
6. After the first trailer for Fresh Off the Boat was released, there was backlash online concerning the show’s title, which Huang defended, calling it a term he wears with pride. “I would never call myself an American,” Huang told BuzzFeed, “I’m a Taiwanese-Chinese-American. My parents came here in the late ’70s and had me about three years after they’d lived in this country. So I consider myself fresh. You can’t tell me to not consider myself something.”
7. Eddie Huang believes that Hudson Yang, the actor who plays the young Eddie, captures the essence of who he is. “When we saw his audition, he was irreverent and he couldn’t be bothered. It was almost like he didn’t care to be there and I loved it,” Huang explained.
8. You might recognize Randall Park (who plays Louis Huang) as Kim Jong-un from The Interview. One day while on set for Fresh Off the Boat, Park started to the receive news of the North Korean reaction to the film, the data hack, and the impending shut down of the movie. “It was crazy to see it happen from such proximity,” Fresh Off the Boat executive producer Nahnatchka Khan recalled, “We were just stunned. Is this happening? Is this real?”
9. And before he was Louis Huang or Kim Jong-un, Randall Park played “Asian Jim” in an episode of The Office:
10. Park, a Korean-American, initially expressed reservations about accepting the role of Louis Huang, a Taiwanese character. “I had an anxiety attack about it when the show was picked up,” Park explained, but after he shared his feelings with Eddie Huang and executive producer Melvin Mar, they were able to calm his fears, “Maybe having reservations about this was a good sign because that I really care about doing this right.”
11. Park found it difficult to find his character’s accent, because the real Louis Huang does not have a strong accent. “When I watched the pilot I thought ‘Gosh I sound so weird’, now when I watch later episodes off Fresh Off the Boat, I sounded completely different from the pilot,” Park noted.
12. Before moving to Los Angeles, Constance Wu, who plays the family matriarch Jessica Huang, briefly quit acting to study psycholinguistics.
13. Wu also called moving to L.A. one of the dumbest decisions of her life, “I came out to L.A. from New York with credit-card debt, thousands in student loans,” she admitted in an interview with The New York Times Magazine, “I’ve been on my own financially since I was 18. It was the dumbest move I could have made, coming out here. But I did it.”
14. In early casting calls for Fresh Off the Boat, Eddie’s younger brothers, Emery (Forrest Wheeler) and Evan (Ian Chang), were named “Freddy” and “Gary” respectively.
15. At a panel promoting the show, a reporter infamously asked, “I love the Asian culture. And I was just talking about the chopsticks, and I just love all that. Will I get to see that, or will it be more Americanized?”
The cast and crew wasted no time jumping all over this question. Constance Wu responded, “Yeah, we got some chopsticks,” with Eddie Huang adding, “Yeah, we got a lot of chopsticks.” Nahnatchka Khan joked, “Wait till Episode 5. It’s all about chopsticks.”
Not backing down, the reporter then continued the line of questioning, asking, “Will there be more about the culture or is it more about the becoming more American?” which prompted even more ridicule. “It’s more about the chopsticks,” Huang responded.