Fresh Off the Boat
My love for Jessica Huang is well-documented. She’s a rude-ass woman with a heart of gold, and she’s indiscriminately mean with little-to-no repercussions. The former is fine. It’s a television trope, a sitcom formula that works. The latter is something I’ve been patiently waiting for this show to address. Jessica’s great — she’s funny, she’s smart, she’s conniving — but she’s also kind of a jerk. This week, she finally realizes that her actions have consequences.
The investment property that Honey, Jessica, and Grandma have worked on is finally going to market. Honey made fliers and is full of suggestions for their business, but there’s no room in the budget for bacon and mini-quiches or team-building workshops. What is in the budget, however, is Madame Xing, a fortune-teller that Jessica has relied on for every big decision in her life, from bag shopping to marrying Louis to possibly standing in her truth as a ventriloquist. Oracles don’t come cheap, though: Madame Xing costs $500 a month and, in Honey’s opinion, is a complete waste of money, tradition be damned. If they give up the fortune-teller, they can spend their money elsewhere, sell the money pit, and continue their domination of the Orlando real-estate market.
Jessica, as pigheaded as ever, will not budge. Madame Xing is no con artist. Obviously, the easiest way to convince someone that a fortune-teller is real and not a charlatan who bilks gullible women out of money is to call ’em up and let them prove their work. Xing tells Honey not to bet on the Dolphins, then warns my favorite Property Brother wannabes that there’s darkness in their property. It can’t go on the market for three months. Totally fair. Totally reasonable. Jessica’s fine with this, but Honey doesn’t understand why or how a woman as intelligent as Jessica would believe Xing’s fortune. And, a fissure in their relationship! I’ve been waiting for this the entire season.
It’s time for these friends to say what they’re really thinking: Jessica’s a sucker and Honey’s ideas are terrible, bless her heart. Just like that, their friendship — book club, real estate, and otherwise — is over. It’s so over that Evan brings a box of Honey’s stuff to the house, like Angela Bassett in Waiting to Exhale but with fewer pyrotechnics.
If you cross Jessica even once, you’re done. She doesn’t speak to half of her bridesmaids for the pettiest of reasons and she’s sailed through life cutting out dead weight. She’s incapable of forgiveness or apology. Is this a defense mechanism? Maybe, but I’m not buying that. I see a prideful woman, incapable of admitting defeat, who always prefers to save face. That’s one way to live, but guess what, sister? It’s not sustainable.
Cue the sad montage of Jessica realizing that she made a mistake by cutting Honey out of her life. Her sons don’t want to talk to her about boring grown-up stuff. Grandma, lonely by choice, doesn’t want to hang either. Grandma cut out all of her friends over disagreements about haircuts, the weather, and what I can only assume were poorly chosen gifts. She’s totally fine with this, even though there’s something ineffably sad about an old Chinese lady watching Wheel of Fortune alone because all of her friends are dead or iced out.
This chilling glimpse into the future is enough for Jessica. She waltzes into Honey’s house, all smiles and cabbage-soup diets and forgiveness, but Honey’s not having it. Jessica is rude. She thinks she’s better than Honey, but even though Honey loves a bright pink sports bra and a bare midriff, she’s still Jessica’s equal. That’s how friendship works. It sucks to say sorry — it means admitting that you’re wrong, chipping away at your pride in tiny increments — but its the right thing to do.
Jessica can swallow some of her pride, but she has way too much to be demonstrative in a way that feels correct. So, she infiltrates a career seminar, volunteers for a “Jobprov” with Honey, and apologizes in her own way. Hello Kitty may have invented best friends as a cold and calculated marketing ploy, but she needs Keroppi.
While Moms learns her Very Important Lesson about being an adult, the rest of her family is, you know, still there, doing stuff. Louis has the opposite problem of his wife — he’s super willing to give the benefit of the doubt, even to old friends named Barry who only show up when they need money. Barry, you see, is a schemer who doesn’t remember Louis’s last name, but definitely wants him to go in on his plan to sell “used goods.”
What I love about Louis is that he’s just nice. He wants to do right by everybody, even J.B Smoove and his whackadoodle garagesale.com. But if Jessica is going to let Honey back into her life, Louis has to start cutting people out of his. Goodbye Barry. Good luck with eBay.
Eddie’s relationship with the Piccolo Princess is still going strong. Her birthday is coming up and he’s dead-set on a present that costs money that he doesn’t have. There’s one option: Become a nanny for DMX, who just moved to the neighborhood and needs help. Eddie shows a surprising amount of chill in the home of Dark Man X himself, which is commendable, but man oh man, is he tired. As in, too tired to even spend time with his girlfriend. Piccolo Princess knows that Eddie’s working, but the ironclad Oprah-Stedman NDA means he has to keep his mouth shut about his job. That’s a real shame. If I learned DMX named his orchids Citadel, Beatrice, and Denise, I’d want to talk about that for the rest of my days.
Inside the greenhouse of delicate beauties, Eddie and DMX have a talk, man to man. Relationships are like orchids, Dark Man X says. You can spray them with fancy fertilizers and plant food and whatever, but at the end of the day, they need time and attention. Just like Eddie’s girlfriend. She may need attention, but what she gets for her birthday is better than any every-kiss-begins-with-Kay knockoff necklace: “DMX drove his El Do to my house. This is the best present I’ve ever got.” I mean, girl was arranging “Ghetto Life” for the piccolo. Their love is real and true and meant to be.
And, in case you were wondering if Madame Xing is actually full of it, here’s a twist: The investment property is covered in black mold. It’ll take three months before the house is even safe again. Madame Xing knows, y’all. Don’t sleep on Madame Xing.
- +50 for acknowledgement of the fact that Chinese people view dishwashers as drying racks and are allergic to saying “please.”
- +a lifetime supply of bubble tea for the truth about Hello Kitty and her contrived “best friend” nonsense. She’s a cat without a mouth. Nothing she says is real.
- +1000 for the reason that Honey doesn’t have any of Jessica’s stuff at her house: “Chinese people take care of their possessions.”