Fresh Off the Boat
Against all odds, Eddie Huang has managed to maintain a relationship with Allison for an entire year, despite the fact that he’s a virgin who can’t drive. “The Taming of the Dads” tackles that relationship, proving to me that it wasn’t just a convenient plot device to give Eddie something to do — and that’s a relief, seeing as the kids have fallen off as the focus this season. The course of true love never did run smooth, but as you’ll soon see, it all works out in the end.
Eddie and Allison are approaching their one-year anniversary. A brief note about that: Eddie’s general saltiness is precisely the reason that I’m surprised that their relationship has lasted for one entire calendar year. Is that how it worked in eighth grade? You just held hands and giggled in the hallway and danced at an appropriate distance from each other during the slow songs and that was a relationship that could sustain itself for an entire year?
Anyway, even though Eddie thinks they’ve decided not to give gifts this year, he’s dead wrong. Allison made him a Flava Flav clocket, complete with a cute picture of them wearing tiger face paint. Eddie, empty-handed and panicked, hands her a Too $hort CD that’s already open, featuring a woman’s bare ass in a champagne glass. Perhaps understanding the gravity of the situation, he agrees to see Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, a prime date movie for all 13-year-olds in 1996. There’s nothing like a baby-faced Leonardo DiCaprio dying in the arms of Clare Danes while speaking Shakespeare in an unaffected L.A. drawl to reignite the flames of your middle-school romance.
Clearly, Eddie’s not psyched about this. He is even less psyched about Louis and Allison’s dad Gary joining in on the festivities, especially when he realizes that the two dads are having a better time than he is with his girlfriend. They’re sharing Goobers. They’re making Shakespeare jokes like it’s a midnight viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Their bromance runs hot and heavy while Eddie and Allison’s relationship withers and dies. They’re having way more fun than their kids, who, by all rights, should be at least trying to French during the sad parts.
This malaise that hangs over Eddie and Allison like a sad cloud only grows as Louis and Gerry become fast friends. During their impromptu jam sesh to the Spin Doctors, Allison and Eddie sit next to each other on the couch in sullen, silent audience. They want to die. Even I want to die a little and these are fictional television characters, neither of whom is my father. Something tells me that Eddie and Allison are over, but Gary and Louis have just begun.
My suspicions are confirmed when Allison calls Eddie to tell him what was obvious: They’ve stopped having fun. What Eddie sees as a “groove,” Allison sees as a rut. It’s time for a break. Eddie, it’s okay. You’re 13. There will be more relationships; I’ve read your books. Your future is bright.
While Eddie’s depression leads him to indulge in the snacks of a 19-year-old pothead — Fruit Roll-Up, American cheese, and a pretzel, all rolled up into one — Evan and Emery are dealing with the plight of raising a Tamagotchi named Jerry Orbach, a gift from their cousin Hennessy in Taiwan. Jerry Orbach is a pain in the ass, frankly, so Emery and Evan are really struggling with this whole parenthood thing. He beeps all the time. He needs to be fed. He needs to be cleaned. He needs to be played with. Something tells me that Jerry is not long for this world — and wouldn’t you know it, I’m right. After a prolonged argument in the middle of the night over whose turn it is to feed/clean/engage with the thing, Jerry emits one final beep and dies, like most Tamagotchi do, in his own poop.
While the men in her family try and fail to maintain relationships and digital pets, Jessica is experiencing one of the consequences of American citizenship — jury duty. After trying to get out of it by telling the judge that she watches L.A. Law, she gets picked. To add insult to injury, she’s passed up for the plum role of foreperson (a.k.a. Jury Boss) for some dude named Harold, who really just wants to get his civic duty out of the way. When bribing the jurors with navel oranges and a threatening note don’t work, Jessica does the only thing she can to get the coveted title: She refuses to vote on the verdict until Harold cedes control. Once anointed, Madame Foreperson delivers the verdict, then tears into the defendant for the crime he committed and causes a mistrial. Ah, democracy at work!
A final word for Eddie: Because your dad is a good dad, he broke up with his new friend because your happiness outweighs his. Also, because you’re 13 years old and you should enjoy the spoils of young, hormonal love while it still has that new car smell. So, go ahead: March over to Allison’s house unexpectedly, all shiny-faced and freshly-showered. Take her to see the movie again! This time without your dads.
Not much to report here, folks, thought is worth mentioning that Jessica’s tactic to get out of jury duty mirrors my mother’s experience. When my mom tried that, she sat on a trial that lasted for three weeks. I know because I heard about it in detail greater than she was at liberty to discuss.