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It’s 1995 and 11-year-old hip-hop loving Eddie Huang has just moved with his family from Chinatown in Washington D.C. to suburban Orlando. They quickly discover things are very different there. Orlando doesn’t even have a Chinatown – unless you count the Huang house.
Louis and Jessica clash over how to raise the kids and how to run the restaurant. When the boys get straight A’s in school, Jessica decides that their school must be too easy and takes it upon herself to give them more homework and tutor them after class. She takes the same strict approach at the restaurant (no extra croutons for anyone!), so it’s up to Louis to get her to lighten up on everyone.
When the cul-de-sac plans a block party to celebrate NASCAR, Louis urges the family to use the event to make new friends (and promote Cattleman’s Ranch Steakhouse). But Jessica has problems fitting in, especially after she befriends a beautiful trophy wife the roller blade moms don’t like. Meanwhile, Eddie schemes to win the respect of the neighborhood kids.
Family rivalry spirals out of control when Jessica’s sister, Connie, and her far more affluent husband come to visit. The Huangs try to convince everyone they’re doing great financially, when nothing could be further from the truth. Meanwhile, Eddie is excited to be reunited with his cousin Justin, who introduced him to hip hop, until he learns the kid has moved on to grunge.
Louis has to hire a professional instructor to give the restaurant staff a sexual harassment seminar after Jessica’s attempts fall flat. Meanwhile, Eddie tries to pass off the seminar’s instructional tape as a “dirty movie” to his friends in an attempt to impress them and get them to come to his house for a sleepover.
Eddie is so desperate for a new video game named after his idol, Shaq, he goes to work at the restaurant. He expects special treatment since he’s the boss’s son, but is in for a surprise when Louis is determined to make him work hard for the money. Meanwhile, Jessica decides to look for a job of her own.
Things are looking up for the Huangs when Louis gets the restaurant a billboard in a prime spot in Orlando. They even get an invite to the country club. But when someone repeatedly vandalizes the billboard, they’re left wondering why. Meanwhile, Eddie works hard to get the attention of the girl he’s crushing on, but it doesn’t help matters when his mom hires her to babysit him.
Eddie tries to befriend the only other Chinese kid in school, but he’s in for a letdown after he finds out that they have nothing in common; Louis feels betrayed when Mitch accepts a job at the rival Golden Saddle.
Jessica puts off taking the exam for her real estate license because she fears she isn’t good enough to compete with Orlando’s top realtor. Eddie looks to Louis for advice on how to win over older girl Nicole, but puts his own spin on his dad’s suggestions.
Jessica’s college boyfriend, Oscar Chow, comes to visit. She’s a bit miffed that Louis isn’t a little more jealous… but she’s got a blind spot and is completely oblivious to the fact that Oscar is gay. Meanwhile, Eddie goes to great lengths to get out of the school science fair.
Jessica’s superstitions get the best of her when she sells a house with the address 44 West 44th Street – the number 4 being bad luck in Chinese culture. At the urging of the new school counselor, Eddie decides to run for school president, but Jessica’s bad luck gets the best of him too when a white lie spirals out of control.
Louis and Jessica get pressured into volunteering at the kids’ schools because of budget cuts. Eddie sees a whole other side of his dad when Louis – a former semi-pro basketball player back in Taiwan — coaches the basketball team, while Emery and Evan see a side of Jessica they wish they hadn’t when she grudgingly takes on producing their school play, and puts her own spin on it.
Jessica fears her family has assimilated so much to life in Orlando that they’ve lost their Chinese identity. So she drives everyone nuts making them reconnect with their culture, from Louis, who she insists decline an invite to join the country club, to Eddie, who she makes do a report on China for his World Day project.