AMERICAN BORN CHINESE: SEASON ONE
Starring: Ben Wang, Michelle Yeoh, Yann Yann Yeo, Chin Han, Daniel Wu, Ke Huy Quan, Jimmy Liu, and Sydney Taylor
Creator: Kelvin Yu
American Born Chinese probably would deliver on some great themes and nice ideas if it didn’t spread itself thin trying to be so many shows at once. It’s a coming-of-age drama whose uniquely charming characters can’t cover its crude writing and stiff delivery. It’s also a martial arts soap opera whose great fight choreography can’t cover its corny dramatics. Lastly, it’s a commentary on minority representation in Hollywood whose satire is way too heavy-handed. There’s merit to be found somewhere in this show, but it too often gets lost trying to aimlessly put it all together.
While the first episode shows a lot of promise, mixing Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings with a less cringy Ms. Marvel (which makes sense since Destin Daniel Cretton directed both it and Shang-Chi), it increasingly becomes more of a tween series as it goes along. Each episode feels cheaper than the one before, especially with the extremely rough CGI, and its Disneyfied YA-ness becomes too much to bear. I have no doubt young teens, especially those of Chinese descent, will be enamored with this show…I probably would have been 30 years ago…but for an adult, it’s lacking despite the impressive, Oscar-winning cast.