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 vital to American Born Chinese language‘s story than you would possibly suppose. 

Quan performs a former actor known as Jamie Yao who discovered fame within the ’90s by means of a sitcom known 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 predominant 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 by chance takes a tumble down his faculty’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 focusing on Asian Individuals

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 instructing 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 much 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 pieces In every single 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 will also be an odd one that fights for one thing that issues, somebody who’s prepared to go on a journey. He ends by sharing that he hopes all children and adults who seem like him can notice they do not have to be the punchline on a regular basis. They are often the hero as a substitute. 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 in the end mirror Jin’s personal path towards self-acceptance. 

All through American Born Chinese language, Jin is frequently handled because the butt of the joke by his classmates. From varied microaggressions to the Freddy Wong meme fabricated from him, Jin is the precise punchline Yao was referring to. As a substitute of combating again, for a big portion of the present Jin excuses his classmates’ conduct to attempt 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 a substitute. Relatively 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 certain 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 remedy 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 had been pigeon-holed into prior 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 provides a touching, relatable story that is inspiring — whether or not you are the son of a mythological god or a youngster daring to dream of extra. 

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