In a pleasantly parallel Fresh Off The Boat, two generations of Huangs set out to answer that ever mystifying question set forth by the greatest minds of 1989: Can men and women just be friends?

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Jessica and Honey try to get some much-needed friend time during Wine Night, but Louis–who no longer has to stay late at the restaurant–repeatedly crashes their party, even with a location change. Fed up with her husband’s insistence on ruining her time with Honey, Jessica quite literally nudges him into rekindling his passion for pool. Like all of Jessica’s ideas, it works like a charm… until she learns that Louis’s partner “Tony” is really a “Toni.” Meanwhile, Eddie’s informed by the school Ned that Nicole and Hot Chris have broken up–through a pretty lame Schwarzenegger impression at that. Eddie asks Nicole out for an ice cream to cheer her up, much to the chagrin of his middle school peers. Doesn’t he know?! He can’t just ask the girl he had a crush on out for ice cream!

Both father and son seemingly find themselves navigating the platonic gendered friendship spectrum, but it’s mother and son who end up having the most in common.

Trying to calm Jessica, Honey points out that it’s the 90s, and platonic friendships are no big thing… although she and Marvin were friends for months before they started, you know… Freaking out, Jessica shows up at the pool hall to tear Louis away from his Antonia. Eddie, expecting a similar freakout from his lady, spends the day (and one on-command nosebleed) keeping Allison and Nicole apart. But Allison surprises Eddie–so what if he had a crush on Nicole? Allison gets it: Nicole is rad! Besides, she used to have a crush on Dave (you know? Eddie’s best friend, Dave.) Now it’s Eddie’s turn to go full-on Jessica, allowing his jealously to take control in a very, very uncool way. He goes crazy on Dave, going so far as to slam his dadlessness, while a leath-clad Jessica tries to prove to Louis that he doesn’t need anyone but Jessica in his life

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They both learn their lessons, however–Jessica realizes that she doesn’t want to be Louis’s dumb pool friend (even going so far as to admit she is almost not right), and Eddie bails on his ice cream date with Nicole to split a Choco Taco with Dave. They both reckon with misguided, overly-impulsive jealously in the face of lost friendship. It’s less important to keep the ones they love (or like-like) on a short leash than it is to value those they care about. It’s not an NBA All-Star Jam of an episode, but it’s a solid March Madness playoff game from your alma mater. Sweet and simple, “Keep ‘Em Separated” proves that men and women can be friends, but maybe keep the Huangs out of it–just to be safe.

Stray observations:

  • Very into how into strong, kind female friendships Fresh Off The Boat is. Honey/Jessica and Allison/Nicole inspire.
  • Hmm. Not one Tony! Toni! Tone! joke from FOTB or me… weird…
  • “So, I was thinking about who i would haunt as a ghost–” Honey’s continued hypothetical spectral blue balls is the definition of poor edging.
  • “No pocket wine!” A rule I do not subscribe to.
  • Louis’s pitch perfect diss: “Are we in a pool hall or a fool hall?”
  • “Take your dark cloud somewhere else, Brian!” vs. “Don’t wipe off the rouge yet boys, seems like we have a second show.” In competition for “sentence said by a child that made Shelby choke on the most spit from laughter this week.”
  • I have indeed read the Archie’s digest wherein “Jughead starts a business.”
  • A beautiful use of slo-mo: “Everything’s sexy to this song.”
  • Jessica eats orange Tic Tacs!
  • Jessica’s list of husband etiquette, including holding the hand to the face with rings prominently displayed; “If she has a lazy eye, that is good!”
  • “Ned knows drama.” Ned! Ned! Ned!

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