Fresh Off the Boat Recap, Episode 2: Two Cloud-Stickers of Funny

Fresh Off the Boat Recap, Episode 2

We open with Mom and Dad at a school meeting about a man selling cute stickers that you lick and then your kids get hooked on drugs! Hmm, my stickers ever only came with gum. Then Mom stands up and asks when report cards are due, because Tiger Moms, amirite? Cue eye-roll, cue intro.

Mom’s singing at the restaurant because … why???? Dad thought it would help business. The best part isn’t the singing, however; it’s that she sees everything and comments — expired coupons, crouton thievery, too much parsley (“It’s a garnish, not a salad!”) — while mic’d up. I’m still really liking Constance Wu. Or maybe it’s the haranguing people over using too much pepper that makes me laugh. No, it’s her.

Then it’s report card day and everyone’s getting stickers, with two clouds? What happened to gold stars? “Clouds are good, Mom.” “Clouds are rain, what are you a farmer?” says Wu. Too good. I wish I’d gotten stickers instead of grades. Eddie Huang’s got A’s — school’s too easy! He needs a CLC! Seems that’s a Chinese Learning Center. (Yeah, I didn’t know that either, nor did the principal and his “lap chicken.” You had to see it, but I’ll remember that one).

There is no Orlando CLC, but Dad encourages his wife to do a home version to get her out of the restaurant. This makes Eddie very unhappy. “Aw, hell no” seems to be his mantra. Will this kid ever become likeable? But then Mom says it, so we’ll call it a family motto.

Mom figures Dad is hiding something, so she takes the kids to the restaurant to conduct the CLC. She can “micro-manage” and teach at the same time! They get into a fight in front of everyone, which is only half-funny instead of full-funny. Until! One of the tables decides to dine and dash, and Mom goes after them and hits them with the minivan. This, I laugh at. I spent years waiting tables and would have liked to run down a few folks like these.

Now Dad and Eddie are having a moment and says Mom just cares and Dad’s a good guy and now they are trying to play basketball and Mom sends the other kids out to play with them and some kid without a dad from next door comes and lessons learned and aagghhh! I don’t know what’s going on and why don’t I find this funny? Oh ABC, I don’t need life lessons. I want humor! Nevertheless, this is ABC, and the Groundbreaking Asian-American Sitcom of All Time. We’re not going to get humor per se, but life lessons and cuteness instead. Like Huang called it in his New York mag rant, the humor is … neutered.

Closing credits and Mom’s trying to get the younger kids’ teacher to explain the sticker grades — now this is funny. “Three intensity hues” of funny. I’ll give them a rainbow sticker for that at least.

Earlier: Fresh Off the Boat Recap, Series Premiere: The Wonder Years,’90s Asian Edition

Follow Austin Wallace at @placesiveeaten

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