'What the Fung?!': TV Review
YouTube stars the Fung Bros. (Andrew and David Fung) make their television debut with a fast-paced series about dining on a budget.
On many food and travel shows, hosts treat us like old pals, welcoming us into their cozy kitchens and sharing prime access to beautiful views.
The Fung Bros., however, don’t want to be just friends. They want to be bros.
With FYI’s new series, What the Fung?!, Andrew and David Fung see if their passions for comedy, food and travel can work on the small screen as well as they do on YouTube. The result is sort of like a caffeinated version of Rachael Ray’s $40 a Day, updated to include lots of social media, high fives and millennial-targeted content.
Each episode follows the Fungs in a different city, showing viewers “how to eat and drink like ballers on a budget.” Quick cuts, pulsating background music and the Fungs’ high-octane commentary keep the pace flowing like, well, a smartly edited YouTube video.
The premiere features Andrew and David on their home turf in Los Angeles, asking attractive locals about great eats and sampling lobster rolls, pork-belly tacos and ice cream that utilizes molecular gastronomy. These guys aren’t necessarily seeking out the tastiest dishes as much as the trendiest ones; their choices may not be practical, but they make for good television — and Instagram posts.
The fact that the show’s title includes two punctuation marks is apropos, since the guys seem to speak in all caps, exclamation points and about five emojis per sentence.
“DO IT FOR THE ‘GRAM!” in Fungspeak translates to “Hey, let’s post this on social media.” A bit of trivia is deemed a “FUNG FACT!” When the brothers share food, they call it a “FUNG BRO SWITCH UP!” Pretty much anything can be summarized with a hashtag because #DumplingFatality is far jazzier than simply saying, “Whoa, I ate too many dumplings.”
The Fungs aren’t chefs, and they don’t pretend to be. In fact, perhaps the weakest moments of What the Fung?! are when the brothers try to describe the food. As is often true in the Internet world, the highlights occur when the brothers seem to go off script and, for example, do a freestyle rap on the street or chat with one of their favorite restaurant owners in Chinese. (Yep, the Fungs are also rappers. Their 2013 music video for "Asians Eat Weird Things" racked up 1.8 million views.)
Viewers looking for serious, well-researched travel tips or expert reviews won’t find them here, but, hey, that’s not part of the Fung Bros.’ promise. The Fungs do things for fun, for the simple pleasure of trying something new. They want us to do that, too.
And if we also do it for the ‘Gram, that’s just icing on the cake.