In the upcoming Disney+ series “American Born Chinese,” angry teen Jin locks herself in her room, covers her ears, and tries to drown out the loud sounds of her immigrant parents bickering in Chinese. trying.
“The conversation about whether or not parents should be happy in their marriage happened initially, and not in a bad way. And we stuck to our guns,” said creator and executive producer Calvin Yu. “Of course, they love each other. But they’re going through tough times, just like their sons are having tough times.”
While it may seem like an uncomfortable moment, especially for a family show, Yu said they didn’t want to bury the honest portrayal of an Asian immigrant family. Through the series — which this week announced it will premiere May 24 — producers hope to expand on the image of Asian family dynamics, which are often strained due to the mental toll of immigration.
The real, raw relationships on the show are an example of how diverse stories are evolving and will continue to expand the emotions and experiences depicted on screen, Yu said.
“I think we’re in the next phase, which is to make the characters more human,” he said.
The series, based on the 2006 graphic novel of the same name by writer and show executive producer Jean Luen Yang, follows Jin as she struggles with the hormonal throws of adolescence. While Jin, played by Ben Wang, is already preoccupied with making the soccer team, navigating an all-encompassing social disease, and managing the ways in which his teenage life collides with his immigrant family, when he inadvertently When he gets caught in a fight, he is thrown into further chaos. Chinese mythological deities.
The show has many eye-opening elements, from the use of traditional Chinese lore to the star-studded cast that includes Oscar winners Michelle Yeoh and Ke Hui Kwan. But “American Born Chinese” also stands out for its portrayal of the strained relationship between Jin’s parents. Not only do they fail to unite in their views on the life path of their son, whose mother wants him to follow his heart, and his father encourages him to tread on safer, more stable waters; His own struggle appears to be particularly strained.
The producers said they drew from real-life observations of how the pressures of survival and confusion in America can take a toll on otherwise loving relationships.
Yu said, “There are a lot of values that you take from your own upbringing, your culture, and you come to a new place, and things don’t line up and the way they make sense where you are.” come from,” Yu said. “All of a sudden, you’re left to figure out what works and what doesn’t … For me, that was the tension in my family. How do you do the ‘American’ thing?
Both Yu and Yang said the family leans into adolescent sadness for a reason. Creating influential art, he said, is not just about basic representation, but also complicating the narratives that came before it. And often, that means delving into some darker stuff in a nuanced way.
Yu said, “If everyone gives you that platform, you have a better offer, you have something new to say.”