“Fresh Off The Boat Asks “What’s in a Name?” in a Way Few Shows Can”

“A person’s name is a funny thing. It could be meaningful, significant to you and/or your family. It could also be totally random, assigned for purely aesthetic reasons, or because your parents just had to pick something, anything to call their new baby.

If you’re an immigrant, however, names can become a more complicated source of contention. As ABC’s sitcom Fresh Off The Boat explored in “Hi, My Name Is…,” names can become the lynchpin of an ever-pressing, complicated question: What does it mean to assimilate? Is changing your birth name to something “easier” for your new country to call you a necessity, a betrayal, or something in between?

The Huangs tell their origin stories, which are also stories of transition and adjusting to a new country

“Hello, My Name Is…” follows the Huang family as they go to open a bank account for Evan, their youngest (and most responsible) son.

But when it comes time to sign his name, Evan’s mother Jessica (Constance Wu) and father Louis (Randall Park) reveal that naming him “Evan” was so random it came from a nearby nurse’s name tag. Though Evan also has a Chinese name, this revelation about his legal American name sends him into a confused spiral of doubt. He thought “Evan” fit him perfectly, but it was just an attempt to keep things easy for him, growing up as an Asian American.

Suddenly, the question of whether to use Evan or his given Chinese name feels like a much more significant choice. “Do I use my American nurse name,” he frets, “or my Chinese name that will cause me endless struggle?!”

And so his parents tell him the stories of how they came to adopt new, more typically American names in an attempt to prove that it doesn’t matter. Instead, they accidentally end up proving that their names have always held great importance…”



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