When Fresh Off the Boat first premiered in 2015, it was the first time I saw a family on-screen that not only looked like mine but shared similar sentiments and memories of trying to balance contrasting cultures and heritages. But after four years and six seasons, it was announced on Friday that Fresh Off the Boat would be canceled after its sixth season. Despite the news, the series will forever be a trailblazer that paved the path for talent and films that have become instrumental to the media representation of Asians.
Since airing, Fresh Off the Boat became the longest-running sitcom revolving around an Asian-American family in broadcast TV history, according to Vulture. Each week, viewers have tuned in to mainstream television to understand one family's experience of emigrating from Taiwan to America and coming into their own as minorities. It addressed themes of immigration, the American Dream, and cultural assimilation through the lens of parental characters Jessica and Louis Huang and their three sons Eddie, Emery, and Evan Huang. Despite its groundbreaking run on ABC, the show's ratings have declined in the past few years, per Zap2It, making its cancelation barely a surprise.
The news of the cancelation comes just months after star Constance Wu released controversial tweets about FOTB's season six renewal. Many took her messages as her being upset (and "ungrateful") about the news that the show would return. However, the actor later explained her tweets to be a "ill-timed" response to the fact that she had to give up another project that would have "challenged" her in order to film Season 6. As of now, Wu has not yet publicly addressed the cancellation of FOTB, and Bustle's request for comment was not immediately returned.
In a statement about the cancelation, show creator, Nahnatchka Khan, said in part, "I’m so proud of the show and what we’ve accomplished over the past six seasons ... It was truly a special experience and hopefully will forever be a reminder of all the stories out there that deserve to be told. Like B.I.G. said, ‘And if you don’t know, now you know.'"
Fresh Off the Boat was loosely based off restaurateur and screenwriter Eddie Huang's memoir: Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir. It is an autobiography about Huang's upbringing as the son of Taiwanese immigrants and his experience in the restaurant scene. In 2015, Huang tweeted his support "only" for the pilot but ultimately denounced the show for being unable to "recognize my own life." However, he later said that the show serves as a gateway to Asian-American culture, "I don't watch it, but I'm proud of what it does."
If you were an avid watcher, don't feel too disheartened, as Variety reported in October that a potential spinoff is in the works. Currently titled Magic Motor Inn, the show is planned to revolve around an Indian family whose daughter attends school with Eddie Huang.
Despite the show's cancelation, the positive effects its had on the media, as well as Asian-American representation, will still be felt. Following the news, actor and comedian Ken Jeong credits the show to helping create his sitcom Dr. Ken as well as Crazy Rich Asians, "Thank you so much @FreshOffABC for galvanizing the Asian-American Community into a living breathing organism."
What the show's four year run has done for often unseen cultures in Hollywood doesn't go unnoticed. The important cultural moments it allowed people to see on TV — my family celebrated Chinese New Year like the Huangs, and I definitely resonated with Eddie Huang when he would bring Chinese food to lunchtime that raised eyebrows, and noses — is imperative for creating a diverse landscape in media. Now, room has been made for more stories that will bring forward the stories of Asian-Americans, smelly lunches and all.