By Randall Yip, AsAmNews Executive Editor
The cast and crew of American Born Chinese say they hope to get word about season 2 in the next few months while Disney appears to be making a strong push for the show.
Executive producer Kelvin Yu (Bob’s Burger) told a crowd this month at a special screening at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco that they’ve already talked a lot about where they would take a second season.
“I think we’ll go deeper with every character, including Ke Huy Quan’s character,” said Yu. “I don’t want to give anything away. I found that people are invested in different characters, a lot of people are invested in Anuj (Mahl Alam), the Indian American best friend. As we leave the graphic novel and move into a second season and into fresh territory, it’s really exciting to be able to imagine a whole news plotlines for everybody.”
Disney does not release streaming figures, but it thinks the show has enough potential to expose it to a wider audience beyond its Disney+ base.
On Saturday, the pilot will be shown on ABC in primetime at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time. It’s also available through July 23 for free on YouTube.
The first 3 episodes of the eight-episode series can also be seen starting Monday, June 26 through July 9 on Roku for free and also for subscribers of Hulu.
There’s been no official announcement about whether the show that also features academy award winner Michelle Yeoh, action hero Daniel Wu and Oscar-nominee Stephanie Hsu will return next season.
However executive producer Melvin Mar (Fresh Off the Boat) believes fans are counting on that.
“If you haven’t seen it, the season ends with a cliffhanger, I want to know what happens,” he said to laughs.
For Gene Luen Yang, whose graphic novel the show is based on, season 2 would be an opportunity to develop the friendship between Jin (Ben Wang) and Wei-Chen (Jimmy Liu). He calls the teens “the heart of the show.”
Yang has come around a long ways when he originally resisted efforts to option his book to Hollywood. He feared clips would be taken out of context on social media
“I have a character who is the embodiment of all of the negative Chinese or Chinese American stereotypes that I grew up with,” he said. “I was always worried that if that character ended up on a television show, or in a movie clips or that character would show up on YouTube, completely decontextualized and that would just be a nightmare. It would be the exact opposite of what I was trying to do the book right. It was part that I didn’t trust Hollywood and also part that I did not trust the internet, because both of those things seemed kind of terrible to me.”
Yu joked that Yang must have turned Mar down 500 times to allow him to adapt his book for the screen. However, the more they talked with the author about it, the more sense it seemed to make.
“It was the three of us and it didn’t really feel like work,” said Mar. “It was just us reminiscing about how we grew up. And, you know, sort of friends talking or like Asian guy therapy, and we knew we’d have like a pretty deep well of stuff to draw from in addition to the book.”
Daniel Wu who plays the Monkey King acknowledged he too carried a bit of skepticism about how they would adapt the novel. When he heard Michelle Yeoh agreed to come on board, he cast aside all doubts after first calling Yeoh to confirm she would truly join the cast.
“When I saw what Kelvin did with adaptation, especially making more of an issue of the family, that whole immigrant experience, and how that informs the Jin character, it just resonated with me.”
He said the relationship between the Monkey King and his son Wei Chen reminded him of how he deals with own daughter.
His hopes for season 2 come from his own personal experience.
“What I like to see is Wei Chen do well on his SATs and hopefully get into an Ivy League school like MIT. I would be a proud father. Everything I didn’t achieve for my father, I’d like for Wei Chen,” he said with a broad grin.
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