Almost immediately in the pilot, Huang himself, serving as the show's narrator, gets at this issue while explaining why the young Eddie onscreen is wearing an Illmatic T-shirt. "If you were an outsider, hip-hop was your anthem," he says. "And I was definitely the black sheep of my family." The zinger-filled early episodes of Fresh Off the Boat don't skimp on the hip-hop, but it's only played for laughs; unlike the book, the show doesn't quite get at why this music attracts outsiders in the first place. The show needs to make the basis of that emotional connection clear—maybe by recreating the moment in the memoir where Huang first hears Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), with its samples of Shaw Brothers kung-fu films, and he actually feels proud to be Chinese.


During a recent Television Critics Association press tour, Fresh Off the Boat's producers and cast actually got this question: "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 panel tried to shrug it off. "The original title was Chopsticks," actor Randall Park joked. Still, it stung. No one is used to seeing a family like mine on TV—especially me. But the larger world also isn't used to seeing young hip-hop fans like me (or my brother, or my uncle, or my cousins) on TV either, and I hope to see the show delve deeper into that, too: why Asian-Americans would connect so intensely with Cam'ron or Missy or Tupac in the first place. There's a reason "Work It" meant so much to me.


Christina Lee lives in Atlanta and has written for Wondering Sound,, Billboard, and SPIN. Follow her on Twitter.

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