'Fresh Off the Boat' Stars React to Criticism That Show Perpetuates Asian Stereotypes

by Raphael Chestang 8:02 PM PST, February 03, 2015
Playing 'Fresh Off the Boat' Stars React to Criticism That Show Perpetuates Asian Stereotypes

ABC's new comedy Fresh Off the Boat debuts Wednesday amid controversy. ET caught up with the show's muse and narrator, celebrity chef Eddie Huang, and star Randall Park, to get their take on the criticism.

Inspired by Huang's memoir of the same name, Fresh Off the Boat follows 11-year-old hip-hop loving Eddie as he and his family uproot from Washington D.C. to suburban Orlando.

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Some have criticized the show for perpetuating Asian stereotypes and some have even deemed the title offensive, but Huang defended the moniker on ET's stage.

"I called the book Fresh Off the Boat because I identify more with my parents' generation and the country they came from and I wanted to hold onto that and respect my roots," Huang told ET's Kevin Frazier. "I refuse to allow dominant culture to limit the words that I can use just because I'm afraid of them using it or afraid of them thinking of me a certain way. I will not limit my vocabulary. I will not limit my identity, and I think I've said for a long time I want to see Asians in mountains, in the sky, on roller blades, on basketball courts and the thing is I'm not going to let people's expectations of us limit what I'm going to do."

This will be the first time in 20 years that a network show is centered on an Asian-American family, and Park admitted to ET that the pressure is on.

"I do feel that pressure since we're the only one out there right now and it's been so long," Park, who plays Eddie's father on the show, said. "We definitely want to represent properly while at the same time be a great show, funny entertaining show."

Park is no stranger to controversy as he played North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Sony's The Interview. The movie's theatrical release was canceled after a hack leaked embarrassing Sony executive emails, full-length films and threatened Americans with 9/11-like attacks if they went to see the James Franco and Seth Rogen comedy in theaters. Sony later authorized select theaters to release the film and also made it available through VOD.

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"I don't see the show as stereotypical, and I'm proud of the show being from the point of view of the family and the kids," Park said of Fresh Off the Boat. "I think it's important to see things from other perspectives. That's how we connect more with people who are different than us on a daily basis in terms of our lives. Hopefully our show can open doors to more shows like it and more diversity of the types of roles that actors of color and actors who are not represented out there traditionally could play."

Fresh Off the Boat premieres Wednesday, Feb. 4 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.