Every week, the cast and crew of ABC’s Taiwanese American family comedy, Fresh Off the Boat, is taking EW behind the scenes. For each episode, one member is recapping, sharing thoughts on what went down, and walking us through the ins-and-outs of the show. This week, EP Kourtney Kang brings us into the second episode of season three, “Breaking Chains.”
My name is Kourtney Kang and I’m a co-executive producer on Fresh Off the Boat, which means my name is one of the credits you see at the start of the show. If you’re anything like I was before I worked in TV, you see those names and think, “Who are all those people?“
The bulk of us are writers. And in my case, I’m a girl who was born in Hawaii, grew up in Lansdale, PA, and for as long as I can remember, was obsessed with TV. Some of my earliest memories are coming home from school, greeting my babies (my Cabbage Patch dolls) and then settling in to watch Scooby Doo. When I grew up, I wanted to make TV and be a mom.
Today, I write for Fresh Off the Boat and have three daughters. You often hear people say it’s tough to do “both.” Some people are afforded both without having to explain their choices. Even the idea of wanting “both” makes it sound like you are asking for more than your allotted share. It sounds like you’re asking for two pieces of birthday cake and sometimes given side glances for that desire, while others at the party are just handed two big slices of cake, no questions asked. Which reminds me, after I write this I have to order a birthday cake for my soon to be three-year-old.
Each season starts with discussions about where the characters are in their lives. What’s happening? Where are they emotionally? This episode came from a discussion about Jessica pursuing “both” and what that’s like for her. Jessica, like myself, is fortunate to have a husband who supports her 100 percent. It lead to discussions about what it’s like for Louis to be in the trenches with boots on the ground, trying to help his wife achieve her dreams. We came to a story about how Jessica wants help, but doesn’t want to give up control. Again, a problem of wanting both. That’s what I love about how Nahnatchka Kahn built Jessica’s character, and how Constance Wu plays her. Jessica always wants her cake and to eat it, too, and she refuses to apologize. Yes girl, always both! Cake! Crap, I really have to go order that.
Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.