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, writer Keith Heisler brings us into the 17th episode of season 3, “The Flush.”
Whenever we do this on our show, a coming-of-age type story with the kids, we try to put an Asian family twist on it. So when it came to alcohol, it felt like a natural place to do it. We’re one of the few shows that can do something on Asian flush. When it came to the usual sitcom trope of a kid getting drunk, we decided to use this opportunity to explain this thing that happens in Asian culture and have some fun with it, and hopefully, it will feel a little different.
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I think most people’s first experience with beer usually entails something that’s a little bit more intense. Everyone in the writers’ room kind of shared their stories to jump-start, but we quickly realized we don’t need the typical first beer stories. To me, it’s always interesting when you can do something where everyone doesn’t know about it and help the unaware people understand it. I knew about Asian flush since I had a roommate in college who had it and my wife gets it too. It’s kind of this weird thing where it’s there, and some people have it and hide it, so let’s just do something that isn’t talked about. We can get away with explaining it, and if it’s not boring, then people are like, “Oh, I didn’t even know this was a thing.” That was what intrigued us about it.
When our show works well, it tells something that everyone can relate to, it doesn’t matter what race they are. We’ve all gone through something similar, but here’s how it’s specific to our family or to the Asian culture. Whenever we do that is when it’s most fun for the writers and the actors to do because it’s so specific to our show. We take a lot of pride in that this is a story that only we can do. This is one of those weird little pockets that most people in America don’t know about Asian culture. You need to have fun with it, but hopefully, we did it in a way people enjoy and relate to.
Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
— As told to Derek Lawrence