American Born Chinese | Official Trailer | Disney+

 ABC does falter, though, by never fully depicting the state of this uprising that Wei-Chen and the Monkey King keep referring to. The rebellion is described loosely, and the show doesn’t really explain the motives of the Bull Demon. (Instead, we get a midpoint episode set in the clouds, featuring an assortment of gods, that feels jammed into the narrative.) It leads to low stakes even though it’s a fight for preserving literal Heaven and Earth. American Born Chinese also, unfortunately, succumbs to superhero-level fare in its climax (think: zapping, flashing lights in the sky as characters battle it out and a portal threatens to eat everyone whole).


The emotional stakes actually feel higher with Jin’s parents. Christine (Yeo Yann Yann) and Simon (Chin Han) deal with years of simmering tension, mainly because they solemnly adapted to a new country and focused on raising their son. Now, she wants more out of her existence, and he can’t even seem to ask for a promotion at work. Their plot is grounded in the reality of immigrant life and being pulled between two worlds. A similar thread is explored in Quan’s seemingly separate storyline. He plays a former ’90s actor whose “iconic” (read: hackneyed) sitcom character Freddy Wong haunts him to this day. His catchphrase, “What could go Wong?” is more of a punchline. Through this arc, ABC examines how Hollywood depicted Asians on screen in a way that mirrors Quan’s real-life journey. And in his way, Freddy becomes a source of inspiration for Jin in a crucial moment.

Thanks to these sincere moments, American Born Chinese rises above its faults to become a wholesome TV show that goes beyond stereotypes. It doesn’t necessarily comment on them head-on but it does find a way to address them subtly as Jin strives to find his place in his world. The end result is a vibrant, inclusive, and enlightening season of TV.


American Born Chinese premieres May 24 on Disney+