Fresh Off the Boat writer talks filming Jessica's citizenship scene on election day
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 Camilla Blackett brings us into the 10th episode of season 3, “How to Be an American.”
When I moved from England to America five years ago, I moved to a very different country than the one I live in now. You guys elected Obama, you were getting your ish together on healthcare, you were giving dope rights to all my LGBTQs. Seriously, you were looking hella awesome! And then the 2016 election came. For context, that Tuesday, we set a late call-time so that everybody could go and vote, and I spent the whole morning cheerfully surrounded by proud voters all wearing their ‘I Voted’ stickers — and I was hopeful.
As the day progressed and votes were coming in, we moved onto the scene where our matriarch, a first generation Asian immigrant living in Florida, stood to take her oath to become an American citizen. What’s funny is that we weren’t even supposed to shoot that scene on Tuesday. We had some last-minute actor schedule changes and I suppose that the production stars aligned to mock us. And look, real talk, whilst I love my job, I have never felt emotional while filming a single second of network television. But as our shooting day progressed and the results came in, as the cameras pushed in on Constance Wu reciting the Pledge of Allegiance while surrounded by a sea of faces of all colors, ages, nationalities, and creeds — I am not ashamed to admit that I cried. Because for those few hours, that room was the country that I emigrated to.
On that night, in a weird conference room on a studio lot, it reminded me that as a jaded, cynical, blah blah blah writer, we make entertainment to make people feel good. To make ourselves feel good. To feel hopeful when Rome is crumbling. Also to sell the new Honda Civic (shout out Honda!). For a few hours in that room, where my boss is an Iranian lesbian, where my production manager is a straight white Irish man, my set-buddy is an Indian American, my director is a white male with two black daughters, and our stars are Asian Americans — I felt incredibly good. And for a few hours, I believed every word of that pledge.
Eddie Huang’s memoir adaptation tells the comical adjustments of a Taiwanese-American family settling into the wild ways of ’90s Orlando, Florida.