In 1994, exactly 20 years ago, ABC decided to pick up the pilot for comedian Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl, making it the first sitcom to put an Asian-American family on network prime-time TV. The show was slammed by the press and rapidly faded in the ratings; after airing just 19 episodes, the decision was made to cancel it.
In her book, Cho cited bad reviews from Asian-American cultural critics as being a key reason for ABC’s lack of faith in the show, calling out one in particular—me.
Two decades have gone by, and no network has aired another Asian-American family sitcom since. But this weekend, ironically, ABC is making the decision on whether to pick up Fresh Off the Boat—a sitcom based on celebrity chef Eddie Huang’s New York Times bestselling memoir of growing up with his two brothers and immigrant parents as a hiphop-loving outsider in suburban Orlando, Florida. Playing little Eddie: My son, Hudson Yang.
The irony—or is it karma?—in the situation led me and my friend, illustrator Louie Chin, to collaborate on this comic.