TV is no stranger to holiday episodes, with dozens upon dozens of Christmas and Halloween specials airing season after season on any given network and generally warming hearts with their suitably festive feels. (Hey, we all checked out A Very Murray Christmas on Netflix this year, right?) But there’s one holiday that has never, ever been properly covered on television: Chinese New Year. Well, never, ever covered until now!
According to series creator Nahnatchka Khan, who spoke one-on-one with with HelloGiggles at the 2016 Television Critics Association Winter Press tour last weekend, ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat will become the first network TV series in history to devote an entire episode to Chinese New Year, and it’ll air on February 2. (ICYMI, the show follows the Huangs, a Chinese family living in Florida in the mid-’90s.
In case you’re not familiar, Chinese New Year (which in China is called the Spring Festival, and is celebrated throughout Asia) marks the start of the new year according to the lunar calendar, and is said to be a time to celebrate holy figures and ancestors. Families can celebrate Chinese New Year in different ways, but the celebrations traditionally last fifteen days. There is also the animal zodiac aspect, where certain years are associated with different animals. (See: the aforementioned restaurant placements, where you might have been able to find out if you were born in the “Year of the Snake” or the “Year of the Monkey”).
At this point, we don’t know exactly how Chinese New Year will be represented in Fresh Off The Boat, but according to Khan, since the show takes place in 1996, it will be centered on the meanings behind the Year of the Rat (which is also the name of the episode), and the story will revolve around how the family has to “figure out how to bring that celebration to a place that’s never heard of [it].” (Sounds familiar, huh?) The episode is actually based on the real-life experiences of its writer, just happening to “mirror the Huangs in a crazy way.”
You’ll have to wait until February 2 to see “Year of Rat,” but just know that this isn’t the only culturally-groundbreaking episode Khan and the rest of the Fresh Off The Boat team have planned this year. According to Khan, while Season 2 will also feature a Valentine’s Day episode (hey, they also covered Christmas and Halloween!), we’ll also get an episode about athlete Michael Chang (“In 1996, Michael Chang was in the finals of the Australian Open and it was a huge thing in the community”) and another one focusing on a topic many culturally-diverse (not just Chinese) individuals have dealt with and, in a way, deal with all the time.
All we can say is thank you, Fresh Off The Boat, for charting territory that might be new to TV, but is a cornerstone experience to so many people in real life.
Image via ABC.