Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Fresh off the Boat''s Randall Park Embraces Return of Racially Diverse Comedy

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Fresh off the Boat''s Randall Park Embraces Return of Racially Diverse Comedy

Article excerpt

Randall Park embraces return of racially diverse comedy


U.S. network television has been criticized for years for its lack of racial diversity, especially in prime-time comedies. That perception changed last season with the introduction of "Black-ish" and another new show on ABC, "Fresh off the Boat."

Set in the mid-'90s, the latter follows a Taiwanese family who move from Washington to Orlando, Fla., where they open a cowboy-themed restaurant. Father Louis (played by Randall Park), embraces everything to do with the "American Dream." Mom Jessica (Constance Wu) struggles to hold on to her Asian roots.

The series is told from the perspective of Eddie (Hudson Yang), the oldest of the family's three children and a big fan of hip hop and basketball. The real Eddie Huang, a 33-year-old chef and food personality, created the series and narrates as his grown-up self.

"Fresh off the Boat" returns for a second season Sept. 22 on ABC. In Canada, it's one of the most popular offerings this summer on the streaming service Shomi.

The series is the first American television sitcom starring an Asian-American family in 21 years. Comedian Margaret Cho headlined the last such sitcom -- "All American Girl" -- which aired in 1994.

"For me, it's a triumph even though it's not my television show," Cho said last month in Montreal during the annual Just for Laughs comedy festival.

"I'm not sure why it took 21 years," she says. "It just happened that way and I take a lot of personal pride in the fact that it's on."

Park figures there are many reasons why it took two decades for a second Asian-American series.

"There's long been a perception that people aren't ready for something like this," he said last week from the set in L.A.

But he feels viewers are much more open to seeing a broader range of cultures and nationalities on TV today compared to 21 years ago -- a mix more reflective of their own changing neighbourhoods. …

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