Published in The Advocate, 5/12/15
Fresh Off the Boat was the answer to our family viewing prayers. It was a rare show we could watch as a family with our 13-year-old son that didn’t involve superheroes or cartoon characters. It was funny, with enough Asian-centric humor and middle-school shenanigans to be instantly relatable to the two Asian-Americans in the family. My husband (the non-Asian) and I also thought it would be a good launching-off point in discussing race with Ben, who’s adopted from Vietnam. What we didn’t expect was to be having another kind of conversation altogether.
The three of us are sitting on the couch, the remnants of roast chicken and potatoes on the TV trays in front of us, watching television (in our household, this is what we call “quality time”). We have DVR’d the most recent episode of FOB, the one where the mother, Jessica, has her ex-boyfriend come to visit. She doesn’t understand why her husband, Louis, isn’t jealous, but for the viewer, the answer is pretty obvious. The ex-boyfriend is played by the fabulous Rex Lee, best known for his role as Lloyd, the gay assistant to Jeremy Piven on Entourage, and he sashays his way onto FOB with the same flamboyant panache he had on HBO. Even better, his behavior isn’t the joke; the humor lies in the fact that Jessica doesn’t have a clue about his orientation. Her gaydar is almost as broken as Michele Bachmann’s.
During the commercial break, Ben, sprawled on the couch, turns to me and says, “So, why isn’t the dad jealous?”
I stop my fast-forwarding. “You really don’t know?”
“Is it because he’s married?”
“He has a girlfriend?”
“Definitely no. Just watch. You’ll see.”