What is American Born Chinese about? New Disney+ show explained

Lucy-Jo Finnighan
American born Chinese still

Disney+ has a new series out: American Born Chinese – but what is it about, who’s in it, and is the show even worth watching?

Disney+ has been pumping out a bunch of new shows lately, all of varying genres, from The Mandalorian and Muppets Mayhem to A Small Light.

Now, the streaming platform has dived into another genre of TV: a fantasy coming-of-age series, titled American Born Chinese.

But what is American Born Chinese about, and is it even worth watching? Well, read on to find out.

What is American Born Chinese about?

American Born Chinese, based on the graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, is a fantasy-action-comedy series that tells the story of Jin Wang, a Chinese-American teenager, as he gets tangled up in a battle between Chinese mythological gods. The series touches on themes of diaspora and generational differences, and takes inspiration from the 16th century Chinese classic novel, Journey To the West.

Check out the trailer below:

As per the official Disney+ synopsis: “Based on Gene Luen Yang’s groundbreaking graphic novel that chronicles the trials and tribulations of a regular American teenager whose life is forever changed when he befriends the son of a mythological god. This is the story of a young man’s battle for his own identity, told through family, comedy, and action-packed Kung Fu.”

The series just arrived on Disney+ yesterday, May 24, 2023. The show dropped in full, meaning you can watch all eight episodes, each of which ranges from 30-40 minutes.

American Born Chinese cast: Who’s in it?

The cast of American Born Chinese features many prolific Asian actors, and even reunites the main cast of smash-hit film Everything Everywhere All At Once. This cast list includes but is not limited to: 

  • Michelle Yeoh as Guanyin
  • Ke Huy Quan as Freddy Wong
  • Daniel Wu as Sun Wukong
  • Ben Wang as Jin Wang
  • Yeo Yann Yann as Christine Wang
  • Chin Han as Simon Wang
  • Jim Liu as Wei-Chen
  • Sydney Taylor as Amelia
  • Stephanie Hsu as Shiji Niangniang
  • Poppy Liu as Princess Iron Fan

Many of the episodes in the series are directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, who also directed (and will direct) Marvel movies Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.

Is American Born Chinese worth watching?

American Born Chinese has only been out for a short time so far, but the series has already garnered a lot of praise. On Rotten Tomatoes, it currently has a critic score of 94%, and an audience score of 85%.

As described by Empire, “A coming-of-age story – with some fantasy-infused martial arts for good measure – American Born Chinese is an entertaining ride, with a refreshing take on cultural identity that never feels like a lesson.”

However, according to The Guardian, the regular coming-of-age events shine more than the show’s fantastical elements. “In its final act, the different threads of the narrative are braided together effectively, but culminate in the sort of unimaginative superheroes-blasting-stuff-at-each-other that ends most Marvel films and is less thrilling than the riveting quest for Jin to join and be accepted by his high school soccer team,” they wrote.

American Born Chinese is currently available to stream on Disney+. For more of our Disney+ content, click here.

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About The Author

Lucy-Jo is a Movies and TV Writer at Dexerto, and has previously written for Screen Rant and Girls on Tops. After earning a Master's Degree in Film and Literature, Lucy-Jo now loves covering films, TV shows, and anime, especially if it's something by Mike Flanagan, or anything drenched in camp. You can contact her at lucyjo.finnighan@dexerto.com