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Fresh Off the Boat: At Last, a Show Where Asian-Americans Aren’t the Butt of the Joke

In These Times, 2/3/2015

Fresh Off the Boat largely subverts the white gaze, poking fun instead at the ignorance and blandness of white Americans and ‘90s white culture. The rollerblading neighborhood ladies who can’t stop saying “exotic” and the childish intolerance for different cuisines (shared by children and adults alike) are the punchlines here. It’s not the most sophisticated racial humor, but at a time when mainstream comedy continues to rely on racial stereotypes—witness the Asian schoolgirl jokes in the pilot episode of Seth McFarlane’s 2013 sitcom Dads, Saturday Night Live’s Taran Killam narrating a martial arts battle with a fake Asian accent or How I Met Your Mother putting white actors in yellowface—lampooning the racists instead of the racialized is a step in the right direction.