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Bay Area professor voices high hopes for ABC's new 'Fresh Off the Boat'

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The Bay Area's Asian-American community is voicing both high hopes and concerns for ABC's new comedy "Fresh Off the Boat."

A new comedy debuts tonight on ABC7 that looks at the life of an immigrant family from Taiwan. Called "Fresh Off the Boat," the show's cast is Asian-American. The Asian-American community has both high hopes and some concerns about the program.

The comedy is about a Taiwanese-American family that moves to Orlando to operate a restaurant. Among Asian-Americans, there's hope the show will help share the ups and downs of an immigrant family adjusting to a new life in a predominantly white community.

"Levity and just the idea of humor kind of disarming people and making people feel a little bit more, 'hey, I can relate to that,'" said James Lai, director of the ethnic studies program at Santa Clara University. "Or, 'oh yeah, that's kinda funny.' And I think that makes people more connected."

The show is based on a book by Eddie Huang about his own experiences. His father in the show is played by Randall Park, who recognizes it has been 20 years since Margaret Cho was the first Asian-American to star in a prime time TV series.

"It's time," he said. "It's time to have shows like this, more shows like this, and it's just great that we're like the first in a long time to do it."

VIDEO: 'Fresh Off the Boat puts Asian-American family in spotlight


Even before its debut, the show has generated some controversy.

One criticism has surfaced about the show, and that's the title, which to some is a stereotype.

"It is a pejorative kind of phrase, and how people take to that can vary," said Lai. "But I think that that is something that people have felt kind of uncomfortable with."

Yet the stars and producers maintain the show will not stereotype and will try to bring attention to such issues as racial discrimination and bullying while keeping the audience laughing and entertained.

Ron Muriera is a San Jose-based actor and community leader. He hopes "Fresh off the Boat" will have a positive impact, especially among young people.

"I think this plays a very important role in demonstrating to the younger generation that there are folks who look like them and there are opportunities to work in the entertainment industry whether it's television or film," said Muriera.

You can catch the premiere on ABC7 at 8:30 p.m.

Related Topics:
entertainmenttelevisioncelebrityactoru.s. & worldracismbooksSanta Clara UniversitySan Jose
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