The creator and executive producer of the upcoming Disney+series American Born Chinese Kelvin Yu says he wants to present a true portrait of the family to the audience.
According to NBC News, in the show, an angry teenager Jin does what he can to avoid listening to his parents arguing in Chinese.
This seems to be an inappropriate and uncomfortable moment in a family drama, but Yu wants to be honest.
“There was a conversation early on, and not in a bad way, about whether or not the parents should be happier in their marriage. And we stuck to our guns,” Yu said to NBC News. “Of course, they love each other. But they’re having a hard time, just like their sons having a hard time.”
Yu hopes to broaden the image of Asian American family dynamics, which are often strained by the emotional toll of immigrants.
The show depicts the tension between Jin and his parents—-Jin’s mother wanted him to follow his heart, while his father encouraged him to take safer, more stable waters; Their own conflicts seem particularly tense.
“There’s a lot of values that you take from your own upbringing, in your own culture, and you come to a new place, and things don’t line up and make sense the way they make sense where you come from,” Yu told NBC News. “Suddenly, you’re left to figure out what works and what doesn’t … For me, that was the tension in my family. How do you do the ‘American’ thing?”
In an interview with the Daily Texan, Yu said he tried to be true to Gene Luen Yang’s novel from which the show is adapted. Yet, he also had to break up Yu’s plot into various episodes and he said that proved to be challenging.
“Jin did something really special in the graphic novel which shows how the different worlds come together, but they don’t come together until the end,” he said. (The show) still reflects the fractured identity the main character has, but it’s within each episode instead. There is one episode that’s almost entirely in Chinese, so we do jump over to another world at one point.”
Yu also acknowledged that telling the story for the screen sometimes through the actions of stunt performers presented another creative hurdle.
“It was incredible to watch what they do and how they tell a story, how they do it with their bodies and incredible skills. Sometimes we were (on set) until 4 or 5 a.m. because good stunts don’t just happen. They happen only when you take your time,” he told the Daily Texan.
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