‘Everything, Everywhere’ Fans Will Love Michelle Yeoh's New Show 'American Born Chinese' (We're Giving it 5 Stars)

Just a month ago, when Disney+ released their two-minute trailer for American Born Chinese, we immediately thought of Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. From the gravity-defying fight sequences to the main character’s ongoing identity crisis, a part of us suspected that this new series would be a tamer version of the Oscar-winning film—but with a bit more humor and teen angst. We figured it would share the same lighthearted tone as Shang Chi & the Legend of the Ten Rings, given that both projects were spearheaded by the same director. And then of course, we knew to expect top-notch performances from the stellar cast, including Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu—all also from Everything, Everywhere.

So, to say that expectations were high for the Disney+ series feels like the biggest understatement. And now, just three episodes in, we can confidently say the show delivers. With its compelling characters, clever cultural references and honest approach to more serious themes, American Born Chinese is a thrill ride that all ages can enjoy.

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Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja

In case you’re unfamiliar with the storyline, the 8-episode series, which is based on Gene Luen Yang’s 2006 graphic novel of the same name, revolves around a shy 10th grader named Jin Wang (Ben Wang). Desperate to “level up” and fit in with his peers, he embarks on a mission to join the soccer team and boost his reputation. However, his world is turned upside down when he meets and befriends the new kid, Wei-Chen (Jim Liu). Little does Jin know that his new pal is the son of a mythological god known as the Monkey King (Daniel Wu). And it turns out that Wei-Chen has a mission of his own—to save​​ the heavenly realm from being destroyed.

Wang is easily relatable as the conflicted Jin, who isn’t quite sure of who he is or where he belongs. Though he delivers quite a few laughs as he struggles to navigate the most awkward moments (like when he tries to chat with his crush). But it’s even more fascinating to see his interactions with Wei-Chen. Liu steals nearly every scene that he’s in, thanks to his unwavering confidence (“Why would I ever doubt myself?”) and impressive Kung-Fu techniques (look out for his battle against the pig-faced man). Jin and Wei-Chen are like polar opposites in the sense that one is self-assured and the other is still unsure of his purpose and true identity. Jin is quiet and introspective. Wei-Chen is a warrior with a heart of gold. Still, they complement each other really well as they get more deeply involved in an intense battle between Chinese gods.

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Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja

Michelle Yeoh, who plays the delightful Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin, is also a scene-stealer. (Just wait until you see her grand entrance in episode one.) She’s wise but playful, and somewhat of a motherly figure for Wei-Chen, who often seeks her guidance while completing his special mission. And as for Ke Huy Quan, he shines as Freddy Wong, a pigeonholed Asian actor who rises to fame after playing a stereotypical character on a sitcom called Beyond Repair

Anyone who’s familiar with problematic tropes from classic TV shows will feel a sense of déjà vu as they catch glimpses of Freddy’s show, which doesn’t have a positive effect on Jin. If anything, it makes him even more confused about his identity, which goes to show how harmful it can be when Asian characters are portrayed as shallow caricatures. And it doesn’t help that Jin has to deal with microaggressions from peers and teachers (like when they casually mispronounce his name 26 times). But as cringe-worthy as these moments are, they don’t feel too heavy or melodramatic. They’re thought-provoking, but they’re also balanced with humor really well—whether it’s Jin’s blank facial expressions or Wei-Chen's bold comebacks.

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Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja

Of course, another major highlight worth mentioning is the action. Jin is a delight to watch during his battles, but Yeoh also proves to be a worthy opponent when she goes up against a mythical being—and makes it look easy while she's at it.

Whether you're obsessed with Everything, Everywhere or a bonafide Marvel fan, you're going to want to add this one to your queue. Stat.

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Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja

PureWow Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

Fans of Everything, Everywhere, All at Once are in for a pleasant surprise, since it tackles similar thought-provoking themes and features some of the cast. This thrilling coming-of-age tale will resonate with anyone who has struggled to find their identity.

For a full breakdown of PureWow's entertainment rating system, click here.

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nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...