Constance Wu received some devastating news Friday: Her popular sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat” was renewed for a sixth season. Well, at least she seemed devastated by it.
The actress caused a fresh boatload of controversy by appearing to express almost existential unhappiness at the renewal of the popular ABC sitcom in a series of expletive-ridden social media posts, some of which she has since deleted. On Saturday, she issued a lengthy essay explaining her displeasure. The statement appeared to invoke the #MeToo movement, drawing further criticism.
The kerfuffle began last week, when ABC announced that “Fresh Off the Boat” would return. The sitcom — which follows a Taiwanese family who has immigrated to the United States — was praised when it debuted in 2015 for featuring Asian American actors, an underrepresented group on television. It also served as a launchpad for Wu, who went on to co-star in “Crazy Rich Asians.”
Wu reportedly wrote the word “dislike” in the comments of the show’s Instagram post announcing the renewal. She also sent out a series of tweets around the same time, most of which cannot be printed in a family newspaper. One read, in part, “So upset right now that I’m literally crying. Ugh.”
When one fan tweeted to her: “Congrats on your renewal! Great news :)," she bluntly responded, “No it’s not” in a tweet that has since been taken down.
Wu was immediately criticized on social media for her tone-deaf messages. “Just think about all the actors and crews today that shows didn’t get renewed and are devastated,” one user tweeted. “So maybe you shouldn’t be so upset that yours got renewed.” Another said, “So sorry you’re upset about being on television and making money. It’s hard to hear someone complaining about it.” Others pointed out that if the show had been canceled, many people would be out of a job.
She also received support. “This is ridiculous,” another Twitter user wrote. “Actors live on a planned schedule and she had to say goodbye to plans she made because of an unexpected renewal. It’s not ungrateful it’s just anger. Who are any of us to judge her career moves. It’s not the first time a woman has had to apologize for this.”
A little over an hour after her original tweets, Wu wrote two more in a seeming attempt to clarify the situation.
“That was not a rampage . . . Y’all are making a lot of assumptions about what I was saying. And no, it’s not what it’s about. No it’s not..what this is all about. Stop assuming,” she said. She later added: “Todays tweets were on the heels of rough day&were ill timed w/the news of the show. Plz know, Im so grateful for FOTB renewal. I love the cast&crew. Im proud to be a part of it. For all the fans support, thank u,” with a kissy face emoji.
Nonetheless, negative remarks kept rolling in. Comparisons to actress Katherine Heigl — who openly criticized her show “Grey’s Anatomy” after becoming a movie star — were so prevalent that Heigl’s name became a trending topic on Twitter.
On Saturday, Wu posted a lengthy essay on Twitter — which appears to have made things even worse.
She explained in the statement that she “was temporarily upset yesterday not bc I hate the show but bc its renewal meant I had to give up another project that I was really passionate about.” She added that her tweets were about this unnamed project, not about the show, which she repeatedly characterized as “fun and easy and pleasant.”
She made clear, though, that as an actor she seeks roles that are “really hard and not easy or pleasant at all,” which is how she described the unidentified project.
“Sometimes even my closest friends are baffled at how I could value artistic challenge/difficulties over success/happiness. But I do. I know it’s weird,” she added. Later in the essay, she said that what is important is “Constantly challenging myself by doing what’s unfamiliar and scary.”
“But my words and ill-timing were insensitive to those who are struggling, especially insensitive considering the fact that I used to be in that struggle too,” she added. “I do regret that and it wasn’t nice and I am sorry for that.”
She ended her essay with the line “It’s meaningful when you make the choice to believe women,” in reference to her ability to feel both sad and happy about FOTB’s renewal.
But that choice of words drew a firestorm from those who said she inappropriately referenced the #MeToo movement in a statement about sitcoms.
“Believe women? You weren’t sexually assaulted you were given a multimillion dollar contract extension,” tweeted Hollywood Reporter senior writer Seth Abramovitch. Another user tweeted, “Please don’t bring women’s issues and believing women into this. Yikes.”
Wu has not further addressed the controversy, and her publicist did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
“Fresh Off the Boat,” which also stars Randall Park and Hudson Yang, wrapped up its fifth season last month.