Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Getting grungy with 'Fresh Off the Boat'

In a recent episode of the new sitcom Fresh Off the Boat ("Success Perm"), the main character, Eddie, sees his cousin when the family visited. This cousin had turned him on to N.W.A. years earlier (the show takes place in 1995), which led to Eddie's love of rap. So when the cousin showed up, now into grunge, puts in a CD by Live and plays "Lightning Crashes," Eddie thought it was crap. (Eddie was right.)

The cousin dismissed Eddie's criticism as him being too immature to appreciate the emotion of grunge.

And as one who was in his 20's at the time and owned half of what Sub Pop had put out I must take exception with lumping Live in with the grunge movement. Only if one considers every rock song with guitars that came out in the '90s to be "grunge" would that be remotely applicable. I doubt even the guys in the Pennsylvania-based band (yes, sadly, I remember without looking it up they were from there; why does my brain hold on to such information?) would consider themselves "grunge" (to the extent any band considered themselves grunge; that was a term applied to the distorted guitar sound by people who were not in the bands that came to be known as grunge; it often was shorthand for "rock band from Seattle"… who wasn't Heart… or Queensryche… or the Young Fresh Fellows…).

Perhaps the subtext was supposed to be that the cousin not only had glommed on to the trend but he didn't understand what it was, thereby making his condescension toward Eddie all the more galling.

It would be in keeping with the theme of the episode, where Eddie's parents try to project the appearance of being more successful than they are in order to avoid being shamed by their relatives. However, I can't help but suspect rather than being a cleverly subtle indication of inauthenticity it was more an indication of a writing staff that was more familiar with '90s hip-hop than '90s rock.

Someday today's twenty-somethings will see their heyday be misconstrued by the next generation in a similar manner.

But despite the quibble above I should note FOtB does seem a pretty good show.

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