Fresh Off the Boat
If I had guess the order of things that Louis Huang loves most in this world, I’d put Halloween near the top of the list. It’d be somewhere under Jessica, possibly before Emery, definitely after Evan, and maybe neck-and-neck with Eddie. Halloween is his absolute favorite holiday, which is great for him but unfortunate for us. More often than not, Halloween episodes serve only to showcase a costume department’s myriad talents. This season’s installment is mostly fluff, but it’s enjoyable fluff.
This year, Louis is dressed as Pete Vampras, a.k.a. Pete Sampras’s bloodsucking cousin from Transylvania. His mission this time around? To scare Jessica once and for all, despite the fact that Halloween is nothing but a waste of money and a means for people insecure in their everyday looks to try on something new for a day.
Alas, trouble brews in the Huang household. Evan and Emery are at loggerheads about what to do with their costume. “I fear we may have peaked too soon,” Evan says. Honestly, he’s right: Nothing will top their Silence of the Lambs outfit. Like, absolutely nothing in the pantheon of television costumes ever. But they’re trying anyway. It just seems that they can’t get it right. If Evan doesn’t want to be the Barney the dinosaur to Emery’s Dr. Alan Grant of Jurassic Park, he most certainly doesn’t want to be the Short Round to Emery’s Indiana Jones. So, Evan picks the costumes this year and Emery has to be Kato Kaelin — complete with McDonald’s bag and terrible wig! — while Evan makes the cutest Lance Ito I have ever seen. Compromise is hard, dudes, but life is tough.
Eddie, on the other hand, is in that weird stage of life between childhood and adulthood. The chance to knock on strangers’ doors and be rewarded with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is a strong one, but so is the thought of attending a high-school party is much stronger — even if it’s thrown by Nicole, who is just barely a high-schooler herself. So instead of following through with their candy strategy, Eddie and his friends show up at Nicole’s house, where they’re greeted by four salty-looking Spice Girls, a pack of Sailor Boy Tom Collins mixers, and some Bali Shag all sitting together in an empty house. It turns out Easy Erica the 10th grader is throwing an even better party, so the Spice Girls depart for fairer shores. Meanwhile, Eddie’s friends — dressed as Bobby Knight, Larry Johnson’s Grandmama, Teen Wolf, and Marvin the Martian — leave to pursue their dreams of diabetic coma. Eddie’s Sidney Deane from White Man Can’t Jump and Nicole’s Sporty Spice are left to contend with the lamest party in the world. But if Eddie has learned anything from repeat viewings of the “Gin and Juice” video, all you need to do is play loud music and dance a bunch and the party will come to you.
There’s no way Jessica would let Eddie attend a party in a house bereft of adults, you’re surely thinking to yourself. You’re correct. She didn’t. She’s been getting a head start on NaNoWriMo, using the downtime of Halloween to peck away at her horror novel, A Case of a Knife in the Brain. Since she’s absolved herself of Halloween duties, Louis is trying everything he can to get her in the spirit. The old “I smell gas do you smell gas oh look there’s a head in the oven” trick doesn’t work. Neither does Reba’s ghost of a Polish girl who murdered her parents with a shovel. Same with the story Louis tells about hitting someone with his car; Jessica merely uses her excellent fact-checking skills to discuss how to properly dispose of the body. You’d also think the phone call from the police station about Eddie is fake, but in the ultimate twist, it’s not!
After Eddie sits for his mugshot, Jessica and Louis show up to sign him out. Turns out somebody filed a noise complaint about the “party” he and Nicole threw. Back at the house, cue the heartwarming sitcom-y bit: Louis is sad because Jessica doesn’t love Halloween as much as he does and he just wants her to participate. Halloween is his Christmas — a fun holiday you spend with your family — and her refusal to participate hurts. Although I understand that conceptually, I think it’s perfectly fine and normal to just not want to participate in a holiday that bores you. Really. It’s fine. But this is TV, so you know something heartwarming is on its way.
The next morning, Jessica wakes up her family, puts on the cat ears Louis gave her, and takes them trick-or-treating in the harsh morning light of November, like some sort of weird reverse walk of shame. Everyone’s happy! Everybody wins.
Authenticity Index: N/A
This week’s episode hews closely to a traditional American sitcom, and as I mentioned last week, we might be past the need for this index. Time will tell. For now, I’ve got nothing.