Ke Huy Quan's storyline in 'American Born Chinese language' defined

Ke Huy Quan stays the actual hero in each universe.

American Born Chinese language follows Jin (Ben Wang) and Wei-Chen (Jimmy Liu) as they embark on a quest to avoid wasting the heavenly realm, inhabited by historic Chinese language mythological gods, from destruction. Whereas the present is especially about Jin and Wei-Chen’s journey, there is a neat little subplot starring the one and solely Ke Huy Quan that is much more necessary to American Born Chinese language‘s story than you may suppose. 

Quan performs a former actor referred to as Jamie Yao who discovered fame within the ’90s via a sitcom referred to as Past Restore. On the sitcom, Yao performs “Freddy Wong” — the pleasant neighbor to the present’s protagonist and an extremely offensive caricature of Asian stereotypes. His signature catchphrase is “What might go Wong?” delivered proper earlier than a slipshod, slapstick second, like a ceiling fan falling on his head. In American Born Chinese language‘s primary story, set within the current, Past Restore is discovering a resurgence in reputation, because of Wong’s catchphrase getting used as a sound chew for memes on social media. When Jin unintentionally takes a tumble down his college’s hallway, somebody even movies him and posts the video on TikTok with Wong’s catchphrase enjoying within the background — it is a meme that is clearly concentrating on Asian People

A man wearing glasses and a grey shirt holds a book while teaching a class.

Credit score: Disney / Carlos Lopez-Calleja

Within the current, Jamie Yao is definitely working as a repairman, in stark distinction to his clumsy character on Past Restore who could not get something proper in his house, and likewise educating a school Shakespeare class to aspiring actors. With the sitcom’s newfound reputation, a reunion particular is deliberate, and whereas Yao is understandably apprehensive, he joins the particular. When requested what he is been as much as by the reunion’s host, Yao shares that he thought his position on Past Restore would open up doorways for him, however these doorways by no means opened. (It is just like Ke Huy Quan’s personal Hollywood story: After his success as a baby star in movies like The Goonies, the actor had hassle reserving roles — then got here All the things All over the place All at As soon as.) 

Yao shares that he usually questions who and what a hero is. He admits {that a} hero will be somebody with superpowers, however a hero can be an extraordinary one who fights for one thing that issues, somebody who’s prepared to go on a journey. He ends by sharing that he hopes all youngsters and adults who seem like him can understand they do not must be the punchline on a regular basis. They are often the hero as an alternative. It is a message his colleagues on the reunion particular timidly applaud, however Jin finds nice inspiration in. Yao’s character arc and his beliefs finally mirror Jin’s personal path towards self-acceptance. 

All through American Born Chinese language, Jin is often handled because the butt of the joke by his classmates. From numerous microaggressions to the Freddy Wong meme manufactured from him, Jin is the precise punchline Yao was referring to. As an alternative of preventing again, for a big portion of the present Jin excuses his classmates’ conduct to strive to slot in and get them to love him. When he watches Yao’s speech within the reunion particular, Jin realizes that he can and needs to be a hero as an alternative. Quite than letting his id be dominated by others’ notion of it, Jin learns to reclaim his personal narrative. 

A father, mother, and son have dinner together at home.

Credit score: Disney / Carlos Lopez-Calleja

Jin sees himself in Jamie from the present’s get-go. At first, it is their mutual expertise of racially motivated “jokes,” however by the finale, it is their mutual evolution, with Jin discovering inspiration in Jamie’s progress and boldness in publicly defying everybody’s expectations of him. Some cope with racism in Hollywood, others cope with it in highschool, however throughout each experiences is a common wrestle sure by solidarity. At its core, Quan’s subplot grounds American Born Chinese language‘s navigation of id and Jin’s wrestle with accepting his heritage. It is the final little bit of icing on the present’s bigger cake, and it is the catalyst that motivates Jin to lastly settle for who he’s and the place he is from, proudly. 

Quan’s subplot additionally lucidly tackles the therapy of Asian American actors in Hollywood, and is a bit of meta-commentary when contemplating the feat of American Born Chinese language as a present itself. The subplot acknowledges the sorts of roles Asian American actors have been pigeon-holed into up to now, however American Born Chinese language is led by an all-Asian solid enjoying moms, fathers, awkward youngsters, and gods, who’re all pleased with their id and reject outdated stereotypes. It is a celebration of heritage and the way far illustration has come, whereas recognizing how a lot additional it nonetheless must go. 

Quan’s subplot augments the present’s grappling with id and gives a touching, relatable story that is inspiring — whether or not you are the son of a mythological god or an adolescent daring to dream of extra. 

American Born Chinese language is now streaming on Disney+.(opens in a brand new tab)