Louis is thrilled for Eddie's first middle school dance. Meanwhile, Jessica tries to bond with Grandma Huang.

By Will Robinson
October 13, 2015 at 10:47 PM EDT
Tyler Golden/ABC
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Middle school dances can really suck. Pressure and expectations come from just about every source imaginable: parents, friends, crushes, John Hughes’ movies. It can really can get to shy folks or those with a false confidence to hide their insecurities. Like young Eddie. Many can empathize with his nerves of the chance of discovering your crush doesn’t like you back. Especially if it’s someone as cool as Allison, the hip-hop flutist seen in episode 2 who sends her used Pogs to Africa.

It’s a fear felt in all the characters of Pretty in Pink, Louis’ go-to Hughes flick while working in the horrible factory conditions of New Jersey. Ever the dreamer, Andie’s (Molly Ringwald) strife struck him in the midst of creating the pizza savers. He stands firm in his love of the teens, even if Chow (a very funny turn from NBA player Jeremy Lin) thinks the movie should simply be called Sad Redhead Goes to the Dance.

This isn’t the first time Louis has imparted his view of the American Dream upon his kids. He uprooted his family from Washington D.C. to Orlando to open, own, and operate his own restaurant. He told Eddie a big part of going Stateside was so he and his brothers could have a lot of sex. He secretly indulged in vacations and sought country club admission to fit in with the neighbors, most of whom were white and unmistakably bled red, white, and blue.

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So Louis had his chance at this seminal moment; he was so excited, he bolted for the door and left poor Mitch and the crew hanging on a “news that will affect each and every one of [his employees] profoundly.” He’s desperate to help Principal Thomas and interrupts his busy schedule of froyo testing, and he’s also desperate to whip the boys into shape. They’re all having a great time playing Shaq Fu with the Game Genie on hand. When all they’ve done is study up on The Grind and prepare an awkward courting dance set to “Boombastic” by Shaggy, they all need some serious help. Sorry, Eddie. But the chance Allison and the other girls will be able to be gyrated into your orbit seems slim. And if Trent keeps yelling, “SHAGGY!” all hope is lost. Time to get your perfect outfits and hair ready, whether it’s a “Eddie Money” buzzed in to your or hair or the fanciest frosted tips.

But still: The promise of hanging with your friends in an out-of-school function with members of the opposite sex is still debilitating for a preteen. And that’s fine! If zero commenters empathize or share a similar story, it would be a bigger shock than if Emery and Evan actually managed to make an edible salad with Grandma Huang’s bereavement flowers. In true Hughes fashion, Eddie and Louis bond when he realizes Shaq knows all. Cue up the Simple Minds track, it’s time to throw on a pinstriped jersey, Tims, send greetings to the girl you like, and brave the moosh pit. All Louis could do was enjoy the adolescent experience he couldn’t in Taiwan and seize his moment on the dance floor.

NEXT: House-flipping and coin-stealing

In the non-dance world, Grandma Huang is thrust into a rare spotlight moment. Her beau Charles, the lovable, never-seen dentist/mentor (dentor, if you will) to Honey’s husband, Marvin, passed. The entire family, except Jessica, mourned his passing and remembered him fondly. Jessica, who’s always had an icy relationship with Grandma, decides to ask her for a loan so she can buy a house, fix it, and flip it. (Good thing Honey, an expert on cleaning her home to scrub any memory of Marvin’s ex, offered her contracting skills.) Jessica and Grandma spend time together by stealing quarters from fountains, only for Jessica to spring too quickly to ask for dough.

It all mildly blows up when Grandma plays pro bono CPA for Honey. Jessica confronts and demands to know the root of Grandma’s iciness. Though they’ve shared the same home, there’s been a communication breakdown between the family’s dueling maternal figures. The view is that Jessica housing Grandma isn’t an act of kindness, but rather an obligation to family. Grandma might be the wise one here in calling Jessica spoiled and accusing her of being selfish on occasion, but they’re both determined and proud in their own way. Sometimes it’s a detriment for Jessica, but it’s what drove her to get a real estate license. After gifting a useful coin-grabber/Evan-tickler, they come to an understanding, mutual respect, and agree to flip houses with Honey. As long as no horse murals end up in any homes on the market, this can only go smoothly. Right?

Now it’s time for the weekly dose of nostalgia in these recaps: This Week in 1995:

  • The big thread through this episode was Pretty in Pink, the classic 1986 Hughes-written teenage film. It’s hard to discern when exactly Louis hustled to make the plastic pizza savers. It had to be s sometime between the later half of 1986 and the late ’80s, probably.
  • Let some Duckie into your life.
  • Simple Minds performed “Alive and Kicking,” which played before the dance. They penned and played another song you might have heard with Hughes ties.
  • Doubt “froyo” was popular enough at the time to have that shorthand be so common. Maybe Principal Thomas is secretly hip.
  • I still will never understand the draw of Shaggy beyond novelty. Sorry, “Boombastic” Stans.
  • Game Genies were the best. I definitely used one to help catch some rare Pokémon back in the day.
  • There can be an endless stream of Shaq Fu barbs, and they will all be welcome — even if they’re not as funny as Shaq’s.
  • Eddie’s dance outfit is ostentatious, confusing, and the perfect thing a clueless seventh grader would sport.
  • The principal couldn’t sound older when saying “moosh pit.” He clearly meant mosh, which at least dates back to the early ’80s.
  • Eddie Huang’s memoir adaptation tells the comical adjustments of a Taiwanese-American family settling into the wild ways of ’90s Orlando, Florida.
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