Fresh Off The Boat Isn’t Perfect, But It Saved My Relationship With My Mom

Representation will ALWAYS ALWAYS matter.

I wrote my mother out of my story, until primetime television called me out.

Gilles Mingasson / ABC

My mother is wholly uninterested in television, music, film, and all books except the Rich Dad, Poor Dad series. We are not best friends. We are, instead, loving but intolerable strangers in each other’s lives: You can always tell I’m on the phone with her because the veins on my neck pop and my voice goes up an octave, even if I’m being perfectly polite (which I’m often not). You probably know how it is — families love each other even when we don’t like or understand one another. And for us, not being able to understand each other comes with the territory. My mother is fluent and native in Mandarin, and I am not. We speak only English to each other, unless we’re fighting: That’s the only time my fluent Mandarin insults come right on out. There is so much unspoken between us, and the stuff that is spoken is often misunderstood. But for the past few months, we’ve spent half an hour a week next to each other, watching and discussing Fresh Off the Boat. These are the longest civil conversations I’ve ever had with my mother in my entire life.

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