Fresh Off the Boat Supersizes the Humor With Shaquille O'Neal

Ingela Ratledge
CONSTANCE WU, SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, RANDALL PARK
ABC

The Huang family is about to get a Shaq attack! This week’s installment of Fresh Off the Boat—ABC’s sophomore series about an Asian-American brood adjusting to life in 1990s Orlando—features a supersize cameo in the form of NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal. Although it will be the first actual appearance by the 7-foot-1 former hoops star, his presence has been felt on the sitcom since the beginning. “Even as far back as the pilot, he’s been part of the lore of this world,” creator Nahnatchka Khan says, noting that adolescent eldest son Eddie (Hudson Yang) is a superfan. (In the first episode, when patriarch Louis, played by Randall Park, described his new cowboy-themed steakhouse as “big, brown and beautiful,” Eddie replied, “Like Shaq?”) Then there was the time when a devastated Eddie thought he had missed a sighting of the baller at the local mall—O’Neal was the center for the Orlando Magic from 1992 through 1996—only to discover, recalls Khan, “that it was just some dude in a mustard-colored suit.”

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The recurring references were not lost on O’Neal. “When we were on hiatus, Shaq ran into Randall Park somehow and was like, ‘Hey, I love how you guys talk about me!’” Khan says. “So we got him to agree to come on and do a spot for us.” While the specifics of his story are being kept sealed tighter than Kazaam in a boom box, Shaq will definitely be crossing paths with Louis and his ultra-feisty wife, Jessica (Constance Wu). “I hate to give it away, but they’ll discover Shaq in an unexpected place and get into it with him a little bit,” Khan says. “It’s such a fun reveal.” Swish!

Fresh off the Boat, Tuesday, Oct. 6  8:30/7:30c, ABC