Last week I joined ABC Studios in Burbank, CA to learn more about the tv series, Fresh Off the Boat. We first headed into one of the screening rooms to view upcoming episode (which actually air tonight on ABC at 8:00pm) called “License to Sell.” It is HILARIOUS! I love how we see another side of both Louis and Jessica in this episode. Since I don’t want to spoil the fun for you, here’s the official summary of tonight’s show.
“License to Sell” – Jessica puts off taking the exam for her real estate license because she fears she isn’t good enough to compete with Orlando’s top realtor. Eddie looks to Louis for advice on how to win over older girl Nicole (guest star Luna Blaise), but puts his own spin on his dad’s suggestions, on “Fresh Off the Boat,” WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24 (8:00-8:30 p.m. ET)on the ABC Television Network.
Then it was time to interview the talent. Our group first sat down with Writer/Executive Producer Nahnatchka “Natch” Khan and Co-Executive Producer Kourtney Kang.
Fresh Off the Boat: Kourtney Kang, Nahnatchka Khan Inteview
Nahnatchka Khan shares why she wanted to bring this story to life.
NK: To me it was finally a way to sort of express that first generation feeling, of you and your siblings being born here and your parents not. It’s like being a scout being out in the world and coming back and reporting back to your parents and family. There are so many stories that haven’t been told yet and this was a chance to tell so many stories we haven’t seen. Network television has been around for 50-60 years and the family sitcom has been around for about that long. So to find a new access point, a new way to tell familiar stories, doesn’t come around very often.
Of course, the book has a MUCH heavier and sobering tone than the series. How did they deal with adapting the story for mainstream family television?
NK: The most important thing was keeping the inspiration intact. Like Eddie has come to appreciate, it’s not a documentary or a bio-pic of his life but it’s inspired by his story. Once you take these characters and cast them, then the actors bring their voices and their stories to it. Television is such a collaborative medium that it becomes everyone’s story. You start with the source material, which inspires the show, then you build it up and you make it something everyone is proud of. These are fictionalized characters that do and say things that Eddie’s family never said or did.
If the show gets picked up for additional seasons, viewers might wonder in which direction the stories will go.
KK: What’s so great about the 90’s is that it’s before the internet, before cell phones. Back in the day, if you wanted to call a boy it was such a big deal because a parent could answer and the stakes were so much higher. They’re on this precipice – they’re little boys now but they’re slowly marching toward growing up a little bit. That’s going to be a totally different experience than what Louis and Jessica had. It’s just right for comedy and drama. It’s exciting to think about them in seven years.
In the pilot episode, many were shocked to that one boy called Eddie a “chink” and later those two reconcile. That was not necessarily the original plan.
NK: That was something that happened to Eddie in his memoir. When you do a tv show, you never know how many chances you’re going to get. So when we got to shoot a pilot, that was all we had at the time. We didn’t know we were going to be able to make 13 episodes. So, I knew I wanted that to be part of the pilot. If we’re going to have one chance, let’s come out swinging. Let’s not water it down. That was pretty far in pushing the boundaries.
When you’re a person of color that’s always going to be part of your life, said or if it’s not said. Some days it’s not spoken but it’s still part of you and people still react in a certain way. If we had one chance to tell one story in the pilot then let’s just come out and say it. These people are moving to the south, nobody looks like them, it’s on people’s minds. Let’s just go for it and have him be called for what it is and let’s see how they respond to it.
It gave Jessica and Louis a chance to react in a way you don’t think is typical, that you don’t expect. They don’t side with the school, they don’t apologize for their son. Which is what really happened. To me that’s really powerful. We didn’t know if we’d be able to tell any more stories so let’s just tell a story that we can all be proud of. The fact that we got more episodes let us take another look at that arc.
KK: That’s the thing about school. You still have to go to school with these kids, it doesn’t just end with that day.
Next up were Executive Producer Melvin Mar and Actor Randall Park (“Louis Huang”). This is when things got really juicy. But, you’ll have to read part two since the interview was way too long and needed its own post 🙂
FRESH OFF THE BOAT OFFICIAL SOCIAL INFO:
- Official site: http://abc.go.com/shows/fresh-off-the-boat
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FreshOffTheBoatABC
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/FreshOffABC, #FreshOffTheBoat
I was invited on an all-expense paid media trip as a guest of ABC to talk about Fresh Off the Boat. All opinions are my own.