Hey guys, have you all noticed this show is set in the 1990s and not the present day? OK, I know, I'm stating the obvious, but so is the sitcom.
It's a close call between this and The 70s Show (a series whose entire selling point was "Kids in the 70s"), but I'm not sure if any other sitcom in history has felt the need to remind us of its decade so often.
Lack of subtlety not withstanding, I'm having so much fun with all the 90s references (as a child of that era) that I can't complain. Fresh Off the Boat Season 1 Episode 5 is an episode that could only exist in the 90s and that's part of the point.
So, let's start out with some extraordinary in-universe news: For some reason, the Cattleman's Ranch is booming. The Huang family must be delighted, although doesn't it take away quite a bit of the dramatic tension for the rest of the season? Are the Huangs' financial hardships now behind them?
For some equally bizarre reason, Jessica decides now that the Huangs are successful, they should make sure they have all their bases covered in case they get sued. This includes a sexual harassment seminar which definitely is a good opportunity for Jessica to be loud and intimidating to Mitch.
We apologize if some of you felt sexually harrassed by out last sexual harrassment training sessionLouis
As a result, Louis brings in a certified sexual harassment instructor played by Brett Gelman (best known for his break-out role as Mr. K on the short-lived NBC series Go On). This is more of a set piece than part of the plot. It's an opportunity for Brett Gelman to do his oddball schtick for five minutes in case there's any overlap between the two fan bases.
Eddie uses the sexual harassment video from Brett Gelman's presentation as a Hail Mary attempt to please his classmates (the same five guys we see in every shot at school) who are expecting a sex tape. The kids are highly impressed to the point where they mistakenly think mimicking the sexual harassers at the video will get them girls in school.
If it's taking a while for me to get to the main thrust of the episode, that's because it was a pretty circuitous week, which is a big plus.
Shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy have an odd habit of changing directions over the course of an episode to the point where the first and third acts of have nothing to do with each other. Fresh off the Boat (Ninotchka Kahn's previous series Don't Trust the B exhibited the ability to do this as well) winds and curves its way through the half hour, but in a much better cause-and-effect way
The end result was was unpredictable and it made the jokes all the more hilarious when you were blindsided by the direction the plot was going. If you guessed at the beginning that the kids would start acting like predatory bosses and Louis would begrudgingly have to deliver one of the most wonderfully bizarre birds-and-the-bees speeches I've ever heard of, then I stand corrected.
In short, "Persistent Romeo" was great. The specific peculiarities of this world are one thing but this show needs to use it as a launching plot for great comedy for it to be a great show. So far, it's getting there.
As I said in the beginning of the review, the idea of people circulating a sex tape via VHS or even hanging out at a Blockbuster (technically could have happened as recently as 2012) is something that could only happen in the 90s. What's more, the tone of the show reminds me a little bit of something that would have worked in the 90s where goofy dads (i.e., Home Improvement, Step by Step) were more of the norm, voice over narration was more prevalent, and trying to be the cool kid in school (i.e., Saved by the Bell) was something worth pursuing.
What do you guys think? How do you think the show is working out on the comedy front? Are you having as much fun diving into the 90s nostalgia as I am? Be sure to watch Fresh Off the Boat online here at TV Fanatic.