So I finally brought myself to watch FOB Season 3 and caught up with Season 4, which is currently airing on ABC. I really thought I would hate it, but after taking some time away from it (I stopped watching mid season during season 3), I can honestly say, it’s not that bad.
Season 1 was them trying to do way too much. They wanted to shove every story about Chinese Americans that they could in one season, probably because they weren’t sure if they would get another one. That was painful to watch. They didn’t want to be stereotypically Chinese, so they just created new weird personalities for the characters so they could “stick out.” Eddie wasn’t going to be the obedient first son, Jessica wasn’t going to be a “tiger mom,” Louis wasn’t going to be a distant father, and Emory was actually going to be a “lady’s man/boy,” etc. It was all really screwed up. And every episode of course had to have a lesson at the end that didn’t lead anywhere because in the following episode, everyone would just go back to their old quirks.
Season 2 they were still trying to find their foothold in the world. Jessica was still the most obnoxious character on TV. Louis wasn’t funny, all the kid actors were trying their best, but it wasn’t good enough.
The beginning of Season 3 was also rough. But the kid actors started getting better and more mature. In all, they were more bearable. Jessica was still I don’t know what, and Louis was starting to get some funny lines. By the end of season 3, Jessica still had issues. Like she gets jealous of her own kids and husband. Who does that? Who wants to see their kid fail so they could be better than them? And they try to make it all sappy by saying, “It means my baby’s all grown up.” SCREW YOU JESSICA. You are an evil, manipulating, SOB. Louis got a lot more likable, but even he screws up as a parent. But not like screws up in a funny and non serious way, like screws up in a psychologically damaging kind of way. Like he had the same thing with Evan. He wanted to make Evan do what he wanted because he wanted Evan to stay the baby of the family. He did this, when Evan clearly wanted to be his own f*cking person. They really need to start thinking of better conflicts in this show. The golf episode about Jessica realizing she’s not a good parent could have ended with her realizing, hey maybe my parenting style isn’t that good and I should change. But instead it gets validated by Tiger Woods’ fake mom. Jessica constantly gets validation for her evil ways, when she shouldn’t. And it always feels like we’re starting back at square one with her. Like hasn't she learned this lesson about being too strict before?
Lastly, the worst episode of season 3 was when Louis and Jessica home-wrecked Honey and Marvin’s marriage just because they wanted friends without kids. LIKE WHO THE FUCK DOES THAT. And after all that HONEY IS STILL FRIENDS WITH THEM. Jessica and Louis never learn anything. They’re totally self absorbed and just evil. In one episode, Jessica and Honey have a fight because Jessica has overstayed her welcome in Honey’s home, but Honey’s southern hospitality wont let her kick Jessica out. Jessica never says thank you to Honey because she says in China these kind of things go unspoken. They chop this whole conflict up to "cultural differences." And yeah, maybe that’s a part of it, but that doesn’t excuse Jessica from being a f*cking *ss hole. I had Chinese professors in college that were *ssholes, but were excused because they had different customs than in the U.S. But that still doesn’t excuse their actions.
In season 3, the show changed their formula of there being a lesson at the end of each one, and talking about Chinese culture and immigrant problems outright, to doing it more subtly. Like Jessica doesn’t know what venting is, or what American manners are. Louis doesn’t know why Jessica doesn’t want to talk to her father, and fucking lies saying that he’s dying in order for Jessica to get closer to him. WHY THAT DIDN’T END IN DIVORCE, IS A MYSTERY TO ME.
Season 4 starts out semi strong. The child actors have gotten a lot better, and are having some interesting stories. Now they can delve into more adult topics and it’s gotten a lot less elementary. They’ve also gotten less PC than they were in the past in order to be more “funny.” I don’t know what to make of that, but I can’t lie, it has become less insufferable. But mainly because they couldn’t do PC in an entertaining way. Because PC shows can be funny, FOB just doesn’t know how. They’ve changed one of Eddie’s friends to be a "perv" so all he cares about are seeing women as objects and everyone just enables him to do so. It’s all kind of messed up now, but it has become more watchable because they stopped trying so hard. The characters have also somewhat lessened up on their phony acting, but only time will tell if they'll be renewed for a fifth season.
23 year old English major and ESL Teacher. Currently living in Fortaleza, Brazil. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.