Fresh Off the Boat just abandoned all pretense of being a fun family comedy to deliver its viewers a stern lecture on illegal immigration.
In Tuesday's episode “Citizen Jessica,” Jessica Huang (Constance Wu) fully supports Florida’s Proposition 187, which seeks “to end illegal immigration by putting up a wall of Border Patrol agents on our shore.” But when her husband, Louis (Randall Park), tells her, “This proposition is anti-immigrant…you’re an immigrant.” Jessica responds, “I'm a legal immigrant. I did it the right way. I went through the immigration process. I waited my turn. I didn't jump the line. This is just about fairness.”
Wow, a television program that shows legal immigrant opposition to illegal immigration? You know there’s got to be a catch. So, of course, when Jessica calls INS on anti-Prop 187 protesters she gets rounded up as undocumented, too, because her green card has expired.
A cook from the family’s restaurant named Hector was caught as well and his sob story is used to beat Jessica – and viewers – over the head with a pro-illegal immigration sermon that’s so obnoxiously preachy it sounds like a public service announcement written by La Raza instead of a scene in a lighthearted sitcom.
Nancy: Oh. Hector called. He quit. He's afraid to set foot in here now that the INS knows about him.
Louis: So he really is undocumented.
Nancy: He said his folks came here from Mexico for a better life when he was a baby. I bet he was a really cute baby.
Jessica: Well, I'm sorry about Hector, but the rules are the rules.
Louis: How could you say that? Right now, you're technically an undocumented immigrant, too.
Jessica: But my situation is different. I just messed up some paperwork. Hector is here illegally.
Louis: Do you know who the original illegal immigrants were? The Pilgrims. This country was founded by illegal immigrants.
Jessica: Like my porcelain Colonial mice figurines. I know. And I respect them.
Louis: This issue is too complex to be reduced to a sound bite -- like that Wall Keepers ad that manipulated you.
Jessica: Or that Clean Parks ad that manipulated you.
Louis: That's different. Jimmy needs to fly his kite. Look, people like Hector are stuck in a gray area. His parents brought him here. He was raised in this country. He loves America, he has a family. What if it were you? Besides, he’s the hardest worker we have. I mean, who's gonna do a better job -- Nancy?
Nancy: I already dropped 2 taco platters and I'm not even on the clock yet.
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How many leftist tropes on the plight of the illegal immigrant can we count in this one scene? Let’s see, this illegal immigrant lives in fear in the shadows, came over as a baby through no fault of his own by parents looking for a better life, has family of his own in America he would be ripped away from, and is a hard worker who does a better job than the Americans on staff. And let’s not forget the appeal to patriotism and the country’s founding and that the anti-illegal immigration proponent is shown to be a hypocrite. The only thing that doesn’t fit the liberal line is that we were previously told Hector doesn’t pay taxes.
Another funny thing about this scene is that the show was so eager to insert today’s political talking points that they forgot that Fresh Off the Boat takes place in 1996 and if Hector’s story was true, he would have become legal through the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
The Huang children also get in on the political action. Eddie supports Bill Clinton because after Tupac was shot, “We need better gun control." Emery likes Bob Dole, but just because “he seems like a nice, old man.” Meanwhile little Evan, the numbers man, opposes the Electoral College because “it was made to benefit slave-owners by distributing votes.”
Oh, well. Can't let things like facts or comedy get in the way of a good opportunity for a sitcom to lecture its audience.