American Born Chinese, about the trials of a regular American teen whose life changes when he befriends the son of a mythological god, debuts on Disney Plus May 24. There are eight episodes and all are available on premiere day.
The series is based on a graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, which came out in 2006. “This is the story of a young man’s battle for his own identity, told through family, comedy and action-packed Kung-Fu,” according to Disney Plus.
The cast includes Ben Wang, Michelle Yeoh, Yeo Yann Yann, Chin Han, Jimmy Liu, Ke Huy Quan and Sydney Taylor. Yeoh and Quan were in hit film Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Reviews have been mostly favorable.
The New York Times said, “Easy to watch but just as easy not to watch, American Born Chinese strives to charm you in ways that may work or may make you wince from their familiarity. Asianness is indicated by gags — deftly delivered — about saving soy sauce packets and not loading up on rice; Teresa Teng pops up on the soundtrack when sentiment is called for. What it demonstrates most clearly is that in the contemporary marketplace, coming-of-age clichés move easily across cultural boundaries.”
USA Today said, “A G-rated dramedy in which elaborate and magical kung fu battles coincide with tryouts for junior varsity soccer teams, Chinese is a cuddly, Disneyfied version of those great supernatural teen dramas. It is the kind of show Disney Plus should really have been making all along: Too mature and expensive for Disney Channel but too family-friendly (and too expensive) for CW. Populated by an all-star Oscar-winning cast of Asian stars, and featuring universal themes of adolescence and fitting in, Chinese is one of Disney Plus's best offerings so far. And all without ‘Marvel’ or ‘Star Wars’ in the title.”
For its part, Entertainment Weekly called the series “extraordinarily fun and uplifting.”
Kelvin Yu is executive producer and showrunner. Destin Daniel Cretton is director and executive producer. Melvin Mar, Jake Kasdan, Erin O’Malley, Asher Goldstein and Gene Luen Yang are exec producers too.