American Born Chinese | Episode 1 – Disney+ Original Review
A high school student who struggles to fit in gets more than he bargained for when he’s tasked with showing a new foreign exchange student around school in the Disney+ Original Series, “American Born Chinese.” Jin Wang gets thrust into battle with mythical Chinese gods, and it’s all connected to the foreign exchange student he is supposed to give a tour, Wei-Chen. Along the way, Jin learns more about who is and isn’t a friend and some odd connections to an old television show which looks like a bad ripoff of 90s American sitcoms.
The first episode was definitely odd, but I could tell it is being more of a table setting rather than an actual meal for an episode. The viewer gets to meet some of the main characters, including the Sun Wukong and Guanyin. We soon learn that Wei-Chen is the son of Sun Wukong and is on a mission for an ancient scroll many believe to be a myth, but Wei-Chen is convinced it’s real. His presence keeps causing issues for Jin Wang as Jin keeps trying to ask out a girl he has a crush on. I have a feeling that is setting up either something really great or really devastating for Jin over the course of the series.
This action-comedy series also tackles a lot of issues that are typical in teen shows. In the first episode, Jin Wang can’t stand hearing his parents fight in their native Chinese. While he understands most of it, he’s confused about why they are arguing about “fried shrimp” until Wei-Chen informs us the phrase actually means “to get me fired,” while discussing employment. These are things that most families deal with, and it helps to ground this almost superhero series in some form of reality.
This is definitely an odd show. If it’s not your cup of tea, that’s okay, it clearly won’t be for everyone. My wife turned to me and said, “this show is too weird for me.” I get that. But there’s a lot of potential there. I didn’t love this first episode, but I really enjoyed everything that it set up. I’m interested to see where this goes.
Rating: 3.5 stars
What did you think of the first episode of “American Born Chinese?”