Fresh Off the Boat recap: Phil's Phaves
Technology can be a wonderful, helpful tool for improving life in millions of ways (communication, navigation, ending ridiculous night-long arguments over random movie scenes). It can also be a confounding and dangerous thing when used without a complete working knowledge. Two vintages pieces of tech ruined things for four different Huangs weeks.
Louis brought the first troublesome device home in the form of a brand-new Gateway computer after mistaking its seller as an ice cream peddler. Oh, Gateway. Their cow-print branding was ubiquitous and instantly identifiable. This is the first family computer; therefore, everyone wants to look up their own search terms (like Eddie, lyrics are a personal regular query), but no one knows how to do anything with it.
Except Evan, naturally. He immediately looks up Cattleman’s and finds one review on a relic of website: Phil’s Phaves. “It’s a beautiful design,” Jessica marvels, unable to find proper words to describe the flying toaster, dancing baby, and corny 8-bit music. The only thing Phil’s Phaves lacks from the ’90s website canon is frames.
Louis and Jessica lose all excitement when the steakhouse’s ambience is slammed as being “dull,” and the whole experience given a B-. In their world, that’s a “Chinese F.” An email to the mysterious Phil promises another chance to fix the review. The decor is more suited for Chuck E. Cheese than the average restaurant. Mitch and the staff now boast tiny hats at a jaunty angle. All ready for the snooty critic’s entrance…
…Lo and behold, it’s Phillip Goldstein, Eddie’s friend turned foe! He’s into the nascent field of blogging. As his mother later recounts, Phillip is learning about integrity and won’t allow past beefs to interfere with his review of an establishment; however, he still dings the spot and won’t change it, not even when the Huangs ask for leniency because they’re all Chinese.
To everyone’s (read: no one’s) surprise, Jessica is stung and mobilizes to exact revenge by making Evan stay up late to create a vindictive website: PhillipGoldsteinHasBadOpinions.com. He tries to verbalize that she’s engaging in what’s now known as “cyber bullying,” but she has her own explanation as to what they are: “e-vigilantes, because we’re dishing out justice and clearing our name.”
This shockingly backfires in front of the entire school. The parents are assembled to learn about “compu-teasing,” paired with a dopey poster that belongs in the next wave of after-school specials. Jessica cracks under pressure and confesses to Orlando PD in an attempted act of selling Louis to the fuzz. If only they ran a slightly less average restaurant, they’d not be stuck doing 100 hours of community service. And now Evan can’t progress on his nursing degree at the University of Phoenix.
As for the final afflicted party, Eddie, Alison wants to talk to him over the phone, but he’s far too worried his critical nonverbal communication not translating. He tries to and ends up with the disastrous situation of both his dad and Alison’s dad picking up the phone. There’s only way for Eddie to express his feelings to his boo: a mixtape. On an actual cassette tape. You know, one of these things. Nothing could possibly go wrong.
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Enter Reba, a particularly keen classmate who ends up as his lab partner. She’s obsessed with Eddie to a frightening degree: Think Helga in Hey Arnold! Reba takes it upon herself to do Eddie’s homework and snatches his folder, along with the tape.
His inaction creates another gigantic mess for his relationship with Alison. He tries to rectify the situation by assembling a nixtape, per Nicole, to scare Reba. The Mark Wahlberg-loving science teacher only exacerbates the situation by bumping said ‘tape before the class, causing Alison to hear the pro-Alison introduction without any context. Only Tupac and his soothing “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” played over the phone mends the tiny rift.
Now it’s time for the weekly dose of nostalgia in these recaps, the ’90s moments, ranked:
8. “Moody Girl” by Frank Stallone: MY EARS. THEY BLEED.
7. “Weak” by SWV: Agree with Eddie: Sisters With Voices makes some good-ass songs. “Weak,” which found its way onto the first tape, is a prime example.
6. Computer illiteracy: Jessica and Louis are dumbfounded how web browsers work, staring at the screen and not seeing Phil’s Phaves’ web counter go up. Louis later steals Phillip’s mouse under the working idea this would prevent his access to the site.
5. Bad Forrest Gump impressions: Everyone had one, and none of them were good or tasteful. Eddie’s is no exception.
4. Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch: The science teacher must have been in the middle of a metaphor about cells, prompting him to conclude “that’s why I say Marky Mark is the nucleus of the Funky Bunch.” Sure enough, Wahlberg had his first breakout role later in 1996’s Fear. Teacher always knows best.
3. Arguing about solo albums from Wu-Tang Clan members: Eddie’s take is the right one: Liquid Swords reigns supreme over any of ODB’s individual cuts.
2. Trapper Keeper: Boring binders were my preferred note-taking device, so Trapper Keepers never found their way into my JanSport. Having one would have probably set me up to embarrass myself and obsess over someone like Reba did to Eddie. How did she get that photo of him? The yearbook isn’t out yet! Full on creepy.
1. Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing: Somehow, this program evaded my childhood. The creepy box art makes it seems like I won out. I don’t want to knock Evan, though, ever the prolific computer user. He’s crestfallen Jessica and Louis are staring down the screen instead of allowing him to practice typing.
Eddie Huang’s memoir adaptation tells the comical adjustments of a Taiwanese-American family settling into the wild ways of ’90s Orlando, Florida.