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"Today, we've arrived."
Those words from celebrity chef Eddie Huang came just minutes before Wednesday night’s east coast premiere of Fresh Off the Boat, the ABC sitcom based on his memoir and the first network primetime show to feature an Asian-American family in 20 years.
Huang, along with the show’s executive producer Melvin Mar and two of its stars, Randall Park and Hudson Yang, joined a crowd of more than 1,000 people at a nightclub in New York City Wednesday night to watch the two-episode premiere and discuss the show.
“I hope this opens the door for more underrepresented voices,” Park said during a panel discussion between episodes.
Wednesday night’s watch party in New York drew a diverse crowd of fans ranging in age and ethnicity, along with high-profile names such as actress Erin Quill and comedian and actor Judah Friedlander, who will guest star in an episode of Fresh Off the Boat later this season.
Attendees at the event joined thousands of others across the country on social media to share their thoughts about the show.
On Twitter, the hashtag #FreshOffTheBoat trended in New York for nearly four hours beginning from the premiere of the first episode and extending well past midnight. In Los Angeles, where similar watch parties were being held, #FreshOffTheBoat also became a trending topic from the start of its west coast premiere.
Despite early positive reviews, the show has faced hurdles in the lead-up to the premiere, from a poorly-constructed marketing attempt to Huang’s own criticism about the adaptation of his life’s story.
But on premiere night, Huang said the show’s existence on a major network meant a lot to him after once being told by his parents that there would never be a face that looked like his on TV.
“Something’s wrong when your parents tell you you can’t do something because of structural racism in a country you live in,” Huang said. “Y’all got to tell your stories.”
Fresh Off the Boat moves to its regular Tuesday time slot on February 10 at 8 p.m.