I watched the first couple episodes of American Born Chinese, and found them really great. I’m going to finish the series. I highly recommend watching it, and reading the wonderful original graphic novel as well. In 2017, I interviewed creator, author, and TV series executive producer Gene Luen Yang.
While I was born and raised in Toronto—so Canadian born Chinese—I found the story, scenarios, and depictions all too familiar and relatable.
Particularly salient parts include the decisions available to the protagonist, the cultural and contemporary pressures to conform and compromise, resolving conflict in a non-violent way, the self-doubt and inferiority complex, and the conflicting drives for individual freedom and belonging to a collective.
The protagonist’s family nails details for me, personally—shopping at a discount retailer, growing up an only child boy, not understanding the unspoken rules of north american culture—and leaves me wondering if I could have experienced something similar if it wasn’t an Asian American on the screen.
I experienced a lot of emotion watching the pilot—to the point where I had to pause the show, talk to my fiancée, write a lot of stuff down that my unconscious and body remembers and my conscious mind didn’t—and take the time to acknowledge each moment.
For years, I’ve wanted to write a memoir, and figured that nothing interesting happened to me. As it turns out, a lot had happened, and I just didn’t know what to do with it.
That’s the first time that has happened for me watching a TV series. I found Beef to be really difficult to watch, and not as resonant, though I also experienced a lot of emotion after binge-watching the series in the weekend (though that was more just because the show was very thrilling).
It’s off to a strong start, hopefully it wraps up well!