Is American Born Chinese safe for kids? Is American Born Chinese OK for children? Read the American Born Chinese Review | Safe for Kids?, an honest parents guide and mom review of the all-new Disney+ original television series based on the popular YA graphic novel, starring Ben Wang, Jimmy Liu, Michelle Yeoh, Yeo Yann Yann, Ke Huy Quan and Daniel Wu. No spoilers! #AmericanBornChinese May contain commissioned links.
American Born Chinese Season 1 Review | Safe for Kids? Parents Guide
Anyone else thought this series was going to be a documentary on our favorite Asian actors? *Raises hand. But a Graphic Novel turned YA Kung Fu show? That’s a Disney+ of a different genre.
With Asian making Hollywood history thanks in part to the HUGE rise in Asian leads in the movie and television shows lately (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Chang Can Dunk to name a few), it’s exciting to see that for AAPI Heritage Month, Disney+ is getting on board with even more new Asian featured content.
But from popular 2006 graphic novel straight-to-streaming series – is this Asian mythology inspired show going to inspire a new generation of Kung-Fu Manga loving fans? Or just confuse them?
In this American Born Chinese Review | Safe for Kids?, I’m breaking down the visuals, the story, a full TV-PG age rating explanation for violence, adult themes and language, and what kids’ age recommendation is suggested to watch in this new 2023 Disney+ original series parents guide based on the graphic novel. A no-spoiler parent review of American Born Chinese series, is this another book-to-movie flop? Or another Mandalorian success?
Don’t expect Marvel level visuals for this action-packed series. Less like Chang Can Dunk and more like a B-level (ok more like C-level) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the CGI and costuming for American Born Chinese look pretty low budget in comparison to more of the Kung Fu type movies. It took me awhile to understand that some of the characters were representative of actual animals (you’ll get what I mean as the dialogue hits.) But once you get past the cheesy – the flow of the visuals to fit more of the teen high school sitcom feel eventually eases in.
Photosensitivity Warning. There are multiple episodes with bright lights flashing/strobing, on par with the fantasy/magical realm that the show is taking on. Episodes 1, 2, and 8 in particular may be triggering for those with light sensitivities or those prone to epilepsy.
“American Born Chinese” is a Disney+ original series produced by 20th Television Emmy® Award-winning writer/producer Kelvin Yu (“Bob’s Burgers“). Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings“), the cast includes Ben Wang (“Chang Can Dunk“) as Jin Wang, Michelle Yeoh (“Crazy Rich Asians“) as Guanyin, Yeo Yann Yann (“Modern Love: Mumbai“) as Christine Yang, Chin Han (“Skyscraper“) as Simon Wang, Jim Liu as Wei-Chen, Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All At Once“) as Freddy Wong, Sydney Taylor (“Just Add Magic: Mystery City“) as Amelia, and Daniel Wu (“Tomb Raider“) as Sun Wukong.
The American Born Chinese series is based on Gene Luen Yang’s 2006 YA graphic novel that chronicles the trials and tribulations of a regular American teenager whose life is forever changed when he befriends the son of a mythological god. This coming of age story unfolds a young man’s battle for his own identity, told through family, comedy, and action-packed Kung-Fu. Along with comic book, anime, and manga pop culture references, fun cameos, and relatable teenage high school drama, this 8-episode live action series blends mythological fantasy with reality – for a unique spin on the teenage experience.
While I’m certainly not the anime and manga fan (ironic, isn’t it?), I appreciate how this series highlights the Asian American high school experience, with everything from dealing with family dynamics to racial slurs to cyber bullying. Very similar to the Rick Riordan Presents book series brought to the screen, this show weaves in Asian mythology with modern day themes to make the story interesting for older kids/teenagers. Using action-packed Kung-Fu and teenage sarcasm to drive the message home, this Disney+ original show is a far departure from the Disney Channel overacting, forced smiles, and stiff dance routines. And I say that as a HUGE compliment.
That TV-PG Rating Explained
Is American Born Chinese series safe for kids? Another Disney+ original series that’s rated TV-PG? Should parents be concerned? It’s no secret that I am highly skeptical of all MPAA ratings (um hello, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker not disclosing any language??). And as we know, not all movie and TV age ratings are the same.
As a parent, it’s been rather heartbreaking to witness how ratings have shifted over the years with a G-rating no longer an option. PG ratings now oscillating between Turning Red intense to Christopher Robin calm, and even PG-13/TV-14 age ratings teetering on the edge of R or MA ratings (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and Werewolf by Night, I see you!), there’s a wide range between the age of 0-14 years old for parents to consider. Having fully disclosed parent guidelines can help determine if a movie or show is kid friendly – and safe for the whole family to watch together.
Why is American Born Chinese rated TV-PG? In this American Born Chinese Review | Safe for Kids?, this 8-episode Disney+ original show is rated TV-PG for “thematic elements, violence, action and language.” With film and TV ratings also unpredictable these days, having fully disclosed parent guidelines can help determine if a movie or television show like American Born Chinese is kid friendly. Is American Born Chinese too scary for kids? Let’s breakdown that TV-PG age rating in this American Born Chinese parents guide.
Violence/Suspense. Violence is pretty on par with Shang-Chi. Multiple episodes and scenes with Kung Fu fighting, including hand-to-hand combat and use of weapons. One very mild blood/stabbing injury and one blood to hand injury. Mild school fight. One acupuncture scene.
Adult Themes. Adult content includes one reference to a “sexy demon,” hand holding between married couple, hugs, discussions about teen dating, one puberty reference, one dirty versus clean underwear discussion, and one light kiss between teenagers. Pretty light for a teen show. However, the adult themes get heavier from there.
Alcohol consumption (by of-age adults, NOT teenagers) and acting drunk is a common theme in multiple episodes. Stumbling, passing out, beer bottles, burping. Vandalization of school property, theft, and school hazing pranks occur in this series as well – all without consequences. Toilet humor include references to “cow farts,” peeing and pooping, food poisoning, and discussion of an animal’s “anus.”
Other adult themes include cultural stereotyping, particularly Asian appropriation and dealing with racial bullying. Cyberbullying and use of social media is a common theme as well. Light themes on mental health, and possible triggering family dynamics, including heated marriage interactions and discussions on marital separation and divorce.
Language. This Disney+ series is not as “clean” as I would like it to be. But in the attempt to stay relatable to today’s older kids, the foul language unfortunately increases beyond what I was expecting. Insert eye roll. Curse words/swear words total (within all 8-episodes) include: 1 “sick-@ss,” 3 “bomb-@ss,” 1 “d@mn,” 6 “H-E-double-hockey-sticks,” 2 “crap,” and 1 “crappy.”
Milder insults and bad language include the following words and phrases: “frigging,” “freaking,” “freak me out,” “sucks,” “screw you,” “anus,” “turd,” “farts,” “idiot,” “moron,” “stupid,” “dumb,” “wimp,” “chump,” “oh my g-d,” “oh g-d,” “what the heck,” “oh my gosh,” “gosh,” and “geez.”
American Born Chinese Age Rating for Kids?
With a runtime of 30 minutes – 43 minutes per episode, this live action coming-of-age story is filled with Kung-Fu fighting, teenage high school drama, fantasy and adventure. The short episode length may seem like a good fit for little kids. But with heavy and sometimes confusing Asian mythology backstory, a slow 8-episode build, multiple scenes with subtitles, and a strong YA focus (especially for those who love the graphic novel), American Born Chinese may lose young kids early into the series.
This new Disney+ show is perfect for my Asian tween/teenager kids. But it may be super boring for younger preschool/early elementary aged kids (episode 6, UGH!), attention spans easily waning before you get the watch the whole series.
The new American Born Chinese television series on Disney+ is comparable to an Asian “Percy Jackson” series or a Shang-Chi meets Chang Can Dunk series, geared towards a Young Adult (YA) audience.
Premiering on May 24, 2023, season 1 of American Born Chinese series will consist of 8 episodes, all of them being released at the same time on Disney+. You can watch the entire series at once. Though they did leave it open for a season 2.
The new Disney+ original series, American Born Chinese does have 1 mid credit scene for episode 6. No end credit scenes present otherwise, in any other episode.
The 2023 Disney+ original series, American Born Chinese is rated PG for “thematic events, violence, action and language“ by the MPAA.
This mom movie reviewer would not recommend the Disney+ original series American Born Chinese for kids younger than the age of 7-8 years old.
Based on my American Born Chinese parents guide and mom review above, this YA version of Everything, Everywhere, All At Once is filled with Kung-Fu action and Asian mythology like Shang-Chi, but combined with the relatable high school coming-of-age story and drama similar to Chang Can Dunk – all geared for older kids.
Considering the full TV-PG rating breakdown above, this parent movie reviewer would not recommend American Born Chinese TV series to kids younger than the age of 7-8 years old. This American Born Chinese TV-PG rating is pretty spot on and easily comparable to the National Treasure movie series ratings.
With fantasy/Asian mythology themes, Kung-Fu violence, older teen tropes and themes (like social media usage, bullying, etc.), and at times stronger language than a Disney Channel-esque show for kids, this Disney+ original American Born Chinese series’ PG rating is pretty spot on.
A teenage coming-of-age story rooted in Asian mythology with a side of dealing with real racial stereotypes? I’m here for it. American Born Chinese is unlike any other teenage show out there today. And it’s the blend of the fantastical with the foundational that makes this YA Kung Fu show an engaging and unique must-watch series for tweens and teens. (Do you think there will be a season 2?)
It’s “woke” Disney. But as an Asian mom raising tween/teen Asian kids, it’s a relatable show that teaches real life lessons underneath all of the spin kicks and magic. I’m completely biased. But seeing more shows starring Asian kids makes me happy. We FINALLY have Asian actors and actress making history and winning “Best” awards because we now have so many Asian leads in movies and television series that reflect the world we live in today.
Follow American Born Chinese on social media:
- Website: https://ondisneyplus.disney.com/show/american-born-chinese
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyPlus/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneyplus
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ambornchinese/
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American Born Chinese, the all-new Disney+ original series is streaming exclusively on Disney+ starting Wednesday May 24, 2023. All 8-episodes of season 1 will be available. Will your family be watching?
I was invited to screen the new 2023 Disney+ original American Born Chinese television series in exchange for this American Born Chinese Review | Safe for Kids? Parents Guide. All photos courtesy of Disney+. Be sure to follow Raising Whasians for more movie updates, celebrity interviews, entertainment and behind-the-scenes info!
Can you explain more about how it is “woke Disney”? I want to watch it with my part-Chinese children, but I do not need Disney to push any of their gender identity and racial prejudice agendas.
I wouldn’t say it’s racial prejudice, but more highlighting real racial issues and how kids respond and should respond. Gender identity is not a real issue here. But social media, cyber bullying and slurs are used.
It has very strong language and several cuss words – suitable for high schoolers. Why was this rated as PG? I won’t recommend this as PG.