Is American Born Chinese Fiction or Nonfiction?

Michelle Yeoh as Guanyin in American Born Chinese
Credit: Disney+

Michelle Yeoh as Guanyin in American Born Chinese
Credit: Disney+

Straight from the success of Everywhere Everywhere All at Once, Michelle Yeoh reunites with Ke Huy Quan in a new Disney+ series called American Born Chinese.

After making its premiere on May 24, fans are still asking is American Born Chinese fiction or nonfiction? But more than that, how faithful is the TV series to its source material?

Here is what we know about the show.

What Is American Born Chinese Story About?

Ben Wang as Jin Wang in American Born Chinese
expand image
Credit: Disney+

The official synopsis of the show reads:

Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Gene Luen Yang, American Born Chinese 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.

Is American Born Chinese Based on a Book?

Michelle Yeoh as Guanyin, Daniel Wu as Sun Wukong, the Monkey King in American Born Chinese
expand image
Credit: Disney+

Yes, American Born Chinese is based on a graphic novel created by Gene Luen Yang. Released in 2006, the novel earned some critical reviews, especially since it talked about racism in many of its pages.

The novel is a coming-of-age story inspired by Yang's own adolescent years as he grew up as a child of immigrants in the 90s. In the book, he combines Chinese mysticism and folklore with his own experiences.

Many schools continue to use Yang's book as an example of how comics can become artistically-inclined. In an interview with EW, Yang shares:

"I'm stunned that people are still reading it. I was actually just in Boston a month ago talking about this book, and in a lot of ways I feel very fortunate for the support that I get from teachers, librarians, and comic book fans. I did not expect this when I first did that book. With the show specifically, I think one of the challenging parts, but it's also one of the most meaningful parts of the show, is thinking through how the conversation about Asian America has changed from the publication of the book until now?"

What Are the Changes in American Born Chinese?

Ben Wang as Jin Wang in American Born Chinese
expand image
Credit: Disney+

Even though the graphic novel was the source material of the show, there were several details that Disney changed. It is said that these changes were made to make the series more family-friendly.

Not to mention, the series only had eight episodes. Some important details in the book were dropped to create a simpler narrative.

The biggest changes made to the TV show include the following:

  • There is no battle between the gods. Niu Mowang the Bull Demon is not present in the novel as well, which means he doesn't attempt to destroy heaven.
  • Jin Wang (played by Ben Wang) doesn't encounter the Chinese deities until the twist ending in the book.
  • The TV series has also changed Wei-Chen's (played by Jimmy Liu) heritage as Chinese. But in the book, he is actually Taiwanese.
  • Suzy Nakamura (played by Rosalie Chiang) was never the girlfriend of Wei-Chen in the book.
  • The graphic novel actually has three parts to it. Disney removed the third part of the novel, which was about Chin-Kee and his cousin, Danny, who was embarrassed by him. But in the later parts of the novel, these two characters were actually Jin's imagined alter-egos.
  • Jin's parents aren't on the brink of a divorce as seen in the TV series.

Hopefully, there will be a second season to continue on the characters we've grown to love.

RELATED: Is American Born Chinese A Part of the MCU?

This Article's Topics

Explore new topics and discover content that's right for you!

QueriesDisneyGeek Culture