A Christmas Story Live! had many challenges (it’s hard to be compared to a classic), but one thing that producers nailed was an adaption of a scene from the 1983 film that many have long considered to be racist.
The live Fox production, based on the Jean Shepherd story that spawned the 1983 movie and a 2009 Broadway musical, revamped a key scene set in a Chinese restaurant. In the film when Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) and the Parker family land at a Chinese restaurant called Chop Suey Palace on Christmas Day, a group of Asian waiters sing “Deck the Halls” for the clan, but it is done with stereotypical mispronunciation, with ” Fa la la la la” sung as “Fa ra ra ra ra.” In the famous scene, the restaurant owner tries to school his waitstaff on how to sing the line as “Fa la la la la,” but they continue to incorrectly sing it as “Fa ra ra ra ra.”
But in A Christmas Story Live!, a cappella group, The Filharmonic, perform the Christmas classic carol with perfect pronunciation. After A Christmas Story Live! aired, the group posted a video saying how much fun they had performing the song on the live Fox production. The Filharmonic also tweeted a photo from the set of A Christmas Story Live!, captioning it with, “Quick shoutout to the amazing @kenjeong. Was such an honor to work with such an amazing guy #AsianAmericanRepresentation.”
The 2017 update to the Chinese restaurant scene, which featured comedian Ken Jeong as one of the restaurant staffers, also had many fans praising the changes that were made for Fox’s musical adaption of the classic movie. In an interview with Vulture, Jeong revealed that the changes to the script were written before he signed on to A Christmas Story Live! but that his whole career “has been about tackling these sensitivities.”
Most fans had a positive reaction to the updated scene in the Chinese restaurant, with some even thanking Fox for changing the offensive original scene. But a few people blasted the Fox production for being too politically correct. You can see social media reaction to the famous restaurant scene in A Christmas Story Live! below.
#AChristmasStoryLive amazing way to handle the offensive version of Deck the Halls from the movie by addressing and expertly avoiding it while still making a hilarious scene! Bravo! (Also, @kenjeong is amazing)
— CJ Roche (@ceej_roche) December 18, 2017
#AChristmasStoryLive definitely went the PC route during the Chinese restaurant scene.
— Nick Newell (@NotoriousNewell) December 18, 2017
#AChristmasStoryLive pretty disappointed that we have to change the Chinese restaurant scene because people are too sensitive these days. Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra…..
— James Jeffry (@JamesJeffryHall) December 18, 2017
Sooo…is having The Filharmonic playing the "Chinese" choir LESS racist than "fa-ra-ra-ra-ra?" #AChristmasStoryLive
— Samantha Jones (@samjonesyo) December 18, 2017
And again, i am so very happy at how #AChristmasStoryLive handled the Chinese Restaurant scene. thank you, thank you, thank you.
— Kristin ☄ (@itskristind) December 18, 2017
#AChristmasStoryLive LOVE that the Chinese restaurant scene was evolved to better represent us
— Norman Eng (@NoRmiE55) December 18, 2017
You know it's 2017 when one faction is saying "so glad they didn't keep the racist singing in the Chinese restaurant" and the other is "ugh they made it politically correct–why can't we have Chinese Stereotypes?" #AChristmasStoryLive
— Hello Felicia the Xmas Grinch (@hellofelicia14) December 18, 2017
Many fans of the movie also noted the nod to the original movie scene in A Christmas Story Live! when after the waiters finish their picture perfect song, Ralphie’s father (Chris Diamantopoulos) says, “I wasn’t expecting that!” and Jeong’s character replies, “What were you expecting?”
In addition to the Chinese restaurant makeover, A Christmas Story Live! boasted a diverse cast that included Maya Rudolph as Mrs. Parker and David Alan Grier as the department store Santa Claus who squashes Ralphie’s dreams of ever getting a Red Ryder BB gun.
You can see the controversial original scene from the 1983 movie A Christmas Story below.