“Fresh Off the Boat” just took on one of the most annoying stereotypes nearly every Asian-American has had to deal with in their lifetime.
Friday’s episode addressed a common belief that Asians are bad drivers. The stereotype prompts dad Louis to teach his son Eddie how to become the best driver he can be in an effort to shield him from such assumptions. But, in the process, he ends up being overly protective of Eddie.
At one point, Louis pulls over to help a family whose car had overheated. When a police officer pulls up, he assumes Louis is at fault for the family’s car troubles and makes “bad Asian driver” jokes.
“Normally it’s ... ’we got another crash on Sycamore due to, you guessed it, Asians, over,’” the officer attempts to joke, pretending to speak into his walkie-talkie. “I’m not a racist. C’mon, my training officer was Korean.”
Ultimately Louis learns that putting a tight leash on his son still won’t protect Eddie from all the racism that he’ll inevitably be exposed to. In fact, his son has already dealt with such comments ― Eddie reveals people often ask him if he’s seen the “Rush Hour” movies, just as the police officer had asked his dad.
The driver stereotype doesn’t just lead to unfair assumptions, it’s also untrue. Research shows that Asians are actually the best drivers. The National Center for Statistics and Analysis looked at race and ethnicity in 2006 traffic safety data. The figures revealed that Asians have the lowest fatality rates. Asians also had the highest rate of safety belt use.
And in a move that really should’ve ended the trope once and for all, Takuma Sato of Japan won the Indy 500 last year.
Yet somehow, the idea of the bad Asian driver continues to circulate in popular culture. There’s even this extremely thorough definition of “Asian driver” on Urban Dictionary that manages to pull several stereotypical traits into one entry.
So, FYI, this is really not an accurate representation of Asian drivers.
If ya don’t know, now ya know.