Disney Kills Oscar Winner’s Series After One Season

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

Disappointing fans of Oscar-winning actors Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh, Disney+ announced that it would not renew the action fantasy series American Born Chinese for a second season. Starring the above-mentioned actors, the show was produced by Disney Branded Television and 20th Television. In light of the recent, enormous critical and commercial success of Quan and Yeoh, the decision to cancel their show strikes many as unexpected, even shocking. 

Disney Cancels American Born Chinese

The cancellation follows more than seven months after the series debuted on May 24.Film fans will remember Yeoh and Quan garnered Oscars for their performances in the critical darling Everything Everywhere All at Once. Regardless, though, their series on Disney+ struggled to make a significant impact, viewership-wise. Most damningly, it failed to feature in the weekly Nielsen Top 10 streaming rankings—a pivotal indicator of a show’s popularity and reach. Yes, American-born Chinese enjoyed solid reviews for its content and performances. But its dire lack of a substantial audience factored heavily in The House of Mouse’s decision to axe the show.

Bases On A Graphic Novel

American Born Chinese

Kelvin Yu created the series based on Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel. Of course, the project debuted at what would seem an ideal time; it came directly off the heels of the 2023 awards season. It thus benefited maximally from Yeoh and Quan’s spree of award wins, culminating in their Oscar wins in March 2023. Ultimately, though, neither the actors’ acclaim nor the series’ quality were enough to ensure a second season.

A Coming-Of-Age Story With A Twist

American Born Chinese relates the story of Jin Wang, played by Ben Wang, an average teenager just trying to balance his home life with the trials and tribulations of high school. The story, however, takes a compelling turn when he meets a new, intriguing student on the first day of school. Soon, Jin finds himself entangled in a struggle involving nothing less than Chinese mythological gods. 

The Cast

The action fantasy series enjoyed a stellar cast, including a guest appearance from Stephanie Hsu, Yeoh, and Quan’s co-star in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Notably and memorably, Yeoh played the role of Guanyin, a Buddhist divinity. American Born Chinese boasted a top-notch production team, with notable names like Destin Daniel Cretton attached–famed for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings; Cretton directed the season premiere and finale.

Will Someone Else Pick Up The Series?

Although the show will not continue under the helm of Disney+, hope for another season remains. For their part, 20th Television intends to shop the series to other streaming platforms, perhaps affording it more time under the sun.

The project’s cancellation means it joins the ranks of several Disney Branded Television shows on Disney+ to have faced early retirement. Like American-born Chinese, most have lasted a mere one or two seasons. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is the only exception to this dismal rule of thumb. 

Additionally, Goosebumps and Season 2 of The Santa Clauses, two more fortunate Disney Branded Television shows that penetrated the Nielsen Top 10, have yet to be renewed. The same goes for Percy Jackson and the Olympians, which, upon its debut, was the top Disney Branded Television premier, ever.