Maybe you've heard of Eddie Huang, aka Magic Don Huang, aka Rich Homie Huang, aka the restaurateur, culinary world shit-stirrer, and author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Fresh Off the Boat, which is the basis for a new sitcom of the same name that premieres tonight at 8:30 on ABC.
The show's already been hailed by critics as "the latest reason to be grateful for TV’s diversity push" and a piece of television comedy that has "the makings of an American original." The show was also called a "memoir [turned] into a cornstarch sitcom," by none other than Eddie Huang himself, who's got...complicated...feelings about the show (which isn't just based on his life, but his voice, as he provides the narration for it, too). Here at Complex, we know Eddie all too well, but what we didn't know was: Where does Eddie rank some of the young TV characters in coming-of-age stories that have come before his? In the first part of our two part interview with Eddie, we spoke with the man himself about some of the TV characters that have come before Young Eddie, as played by Hudson Yang, and where he ranks them in the legacy of television that his own avatar is about to join.
I think you succeeded. Okay, you know what the idea for the first part of this interview is, right? We're gonna go through some of the TV characters that have come before Fresh Off The Boat's Young Eddie Huang, and you're going to assess their legacies.
Yo, I fucking love him. He’s like the serious version of Corey from Boy Meets World. I also liked the way it took place in the '60s as a period piece, you know? That was when TV was still good. The Wonder Years was one of the illest TV shows of all time. Super heartfelt. The two TV shows that really pulled on heartstrings as effectively as Wonder Years was My So Called Life, in terms of capturing like teenage coming-of-age, and all that shit.
Really? I didn’t think you’d be down with Kevin Arnold. My editor thought you'd call him a fuccboi.
It was a long time ago. I just remember—when I was younger—liking the show. And Kevin. But mostly liking The Wonder Years because of the 60s setting, and, you know, his relationship with the girl? And then I remember the last episode really threw me for a fucking loop.
Okay, let’s go a little more recent: Bart Simpson.
I love Bart, man. One of my first CDs was that Simpsons soundtrack with Bart doing the Bartman. Bart was fucking a downtown New York cartoon character.
I don’t think he’s aged well, though.
He got that Asian dolphin skin. And hey: The Simpsons might be the first Asian-American family on television.
That’s fucked up, Eddie.
My last name means yellow.
Eddie. What about Malcolm, from Malcolm In The Middle?
I love Malcolm, also because Malcolm’s pops turned into Heisenberg, so he’s down.
Oh, man. Junior was kind of a bitch.
Right? He was a snitch.
Exactly. Also, it felt like his real son was Jesse, anyway. Captain Cook!
Lighter territory: Steve Urkel from Family Matters?
I wasn’t a big fan. He just laughed at himself the whole time. He never took himself seriously.
Urkel was like the black Ken Jeong. When I saw Ken Jeong running around in The Hangover, I was like: Fuck this dude. I like the real guy that played Urkel. The real dude that played Urkel is a fucking ill basketball player.
Jaleel White is an ill basketball player?
I remember reading about him being an ill basketball player. You can fact check that. [Ed. Jaleel White indeed appears to have skills.]
What about Will Smith, as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air?
Loved Fresh Prince as a kid, do not love Will Smith as a Scientologist.
Any love for Carlton?
I don’t really fuck with Carlton like that. I just didn’t like him. I like Jazz, I like Will, I liked his hot-ass sister.
Hilary, I hope?
Yeah, Hilary was bad.
What do you make of Manny, the kid on Modern Family?
I've never watched Modern Family.
Don’t watch it.
You know they’re on your network, right? And they've won a bunch of Emmys?
Yeah, I have no idea what the fuck goes on.
A couple episodes.
What do you think?
I feel like they should have actually based it on Coltrane Curtis, the dude that runs Team Epiphany.
Alex P. Keaton, from Family Ties? Michael J. Fox!
Oh, man. I never watched that. Dude, my cultural shit—I have so many gaps.
This is going terribly. Okay, fine: Work with me here, Eddie. What was the coming-of-age show that you actually watched growing up?
Uhhhhhh…I watched Martin?
Not a coming-of-age show.
[Thinks for a minute.] Oh: DOUG! Doug, on Nickelodeon Doug: that’s my dude.
Yeah, I fuck with Doug heavy.
Doug was, like, emotional. Thoughtful. He had that fucking—what was shorty’s name?
Yeah! I was a huge Doug fan. I also liked Step By Step? I watched all that T.G.I.F. shit. Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, too. I thought that girl was just so bad on Step By Step. She was a fan of the Russian Five, the Red Wings. And I like the Red Wings, and I thought she was cute, and was a tomboy, so I was really into her. I think her name was Cody, right?
Yeah, her. And I remember Suzanne Somers was doing wild interviews on Howard Stern about the benefits of swallowing while that show was airing. I was just like, yo: This is the illest TV mom ever. [Ed. We could find no evidence of this interview, but we'll take Eddie's word for it, I guess.]
Did you ever watch Party of Five?
He, Jordan Catalano, is the illest.
I just loved that girls loved Jordan Catalano. And when the show got canceled, I just remember every girl like fucking crying in school in seventh grade. But mostly, I was a Doug fan. As a kid, too: Kids are emotional. You know what I mean? You really take shit to heart. Doug was ahead of his time on the emotional shit.
Yeah, no: Skeeter was fucking retarded.
There we go.
Fresh Off the Boat premieres tonight on ABC at 8:30. Make sure to follow New York Times bestseller author Eddie Huang on Twitter during the show, which we have no doubt will be just as entertaining as the show itself.