May 30, 2023

"American Born Chinese": Two boys, no girls in the episode synopses or trailer. What could go wrong?

 American-Born Chinese: "A regular American teenager...befriends the son of a mythological god."  Wait -- two boys are friends? In 99.99% of Disney teen programs, it's a girl and her boy bff, who has a crush on her.  Two boys together, and the episode synopses don't say anything about winning the Girl of His Dreams.  Neither does the trailer on IMDB.  It sounds like a gay-subtext paradise, but I've been fooled before, so I'm a bit leery.  

 Here goes, Episode 1:

Back story:  The Bull Demon is rebelling against The Jade Emperor, ruler of the Heaveny Realm.  Aren't empires on tv usually evil, requiring freedom fighters like Luke Skywalker?  Not this time.   The only way to stop him is to acquire Jingu Bang, the legendary Iron Staff of the Monkey King, Master of the 72 Transformations.  So we'll be searching for an object of awesome power.

Cut to a black-bearded guy being chased by a shape-shifting bogey.  Rather an impressive sequence.   The bogey turns into the yellow-bearded Monkey King, and asks for his Legendary Iron Staff back.   But instead, Black-Beard jumps off a cliff into a steaming waterfall vortex. 

Scene 1:
  Tenth grade starts tomorrow, and Jin (Ben Wang) is heavily embarrassed at shopping for back-to-school clothes with his mother.  "What guy are you?" Mom asks.  "Skateboard guy, camping guy, handsome guy?"  Gay guy?  

"Ok, if you don't like this store, where does your friend Anuji shop?"  But they broke up over the summer.  A boyfriend breakup?

Jin wants a cool coat, but it's too expensive.  He tries on the cheap sweater Mom wants for him...ugh, it has "Hot Stuff!" on the back.  "Let's just go."

Scene 2:  At home. Jin's room is full of manga, and superhero figures.  Feeling guilty, he opens his backpack -- he stole the cool coat!  It still has the security tag.  He feels guilty.  His parents are arguing in the next room.  Conflict!

Scene 3:  Mom drops Jin off at Sierra Mora high school.  Lots of students chatting and texting. He greets his ex Anuji, who ignores him.  Travis invites him onto the "sick-ass" boat of his mother's boyfriend.  The JV Soccer Captain stops by to invite them to the tryouts tomorrow. No one mentions girls.  

He stops to help a boy open his locker (Jimmy Liu, maybe the guy in the top photo).  The boy gazes at him in awe as he walks away.  Man of Your Dreams, kid?

Scene 4:  Biology class.  Human evolution.  We see pictures (from Jin's notebook?) of apes evolving into a hot naked guy.  Tell me more, Jin.  The teacher makes a crass joke about his ex-wife being a monkey.  Not cool, Dude.  

Ok, time to partner up for a project.  Uh-oh, Jin picks a hot girl.  It was fun while it lasted.  Gaze, gaze, awkward flirtation, complaining about their parents controlling their lives. more intent gazes.

Before they can seal the deal, the principal calls him out: the locker boy from earlier, Wei-Chen, is new, and needs to "shadow" someone to get a feel for the school.  She chose Jin because they're both Chinese, and therefore have a lot in common.

Jin is not happy.  Now he won't be partnered with the hot girl he's been flirting with for the last ten minutes.   She gazes longingly at him before moving on to another guy.  

Scene 5: 
 Lunchtime.  Jin's bud Josh  wants him to join the buds "by the bricks," but Wei-Chen is yelling and waving.  "'re sitting with someone," he says jealously, and walks off. 

Everything that Wei-Chen says or does annoys Jin.  Despondent, he gazes at the Girl of His Dreams. Ok, that's enough.

I checked the original novel: it's about finding the Girl of Your Dreams while fighting Asian stereotypes.  

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