Disney+ axes yet another show but can American Born Chinese be saved?

Disney+ has canceled American Born Chinese but can the Michelle Yeoh fantasy action series be saved?

AMERICAN BORN CHINESE - “Hot Stuff” (Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja)
MICHELLE YEOH
AMERICAN BORN CHINESE - “Hot Stuff” (Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja) MICHELLE YEOH /
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Disney+ has axed another show from its streamer as American Born Chinese won’t be returning for a second season. Why is it not coming back, and can the show be revived elsewhere?

Like many streamers, Disney+ has had issues keeping some of its original series for the site. Popular shows like Willow and Big Shot were not only canceled but removed from the streamer, with Disney not wanting to pay more on the rights and residual costs. They also canceled the already completed shows Nautilus and The Spiderwick Chronicles (the former will now air on AMC+ and the latter on the Roku Channel). 

While the various Marvel and Star Wars shows have been successful, Disney+ hasn’t had as much luck with others. They are still trying with The Santa Clauses and Goosebumps continuing onward. 

American Born Chinese premiered in May of 2023, based on the graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang. It tells the story of Jin Wang (Ben Wang), a normal teenager who finds himself thrust into a battle against the Chinese gods.

The show got major attention for the casting of newly minted Academy Award winner Michelle Yeoh as the goddess Guanyin. Her fellow Everything Everywhere All at Once Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan also starred.

The show got praise for its approach to Chinese-American culture, especially the subplot of Quan as an actor who’d played a horribly stereotypical Chinese neighbor in a 1990s sitcom and putting up with that legacy. 

So why is the show gone, and what can happen to it next?

Can American Born Chinese be saved?

Per Variety, while Disney was high on the series, its viewing numbers never matched the hopes, despite the star power of Yeoh and Quan. Given the high budget for the special effects and the aftereffects of the strikes in Hollywood, Disney has let the cast options expire. 

The cancellation comes a day after Netflix premiered The Brothers Sun, another series starring Yeoh. The actress is also expected to make a Star Trek: Section 31 project, and her busy schedule means she may not have been able to film a second season. 

So far, there’s no word from the cast or creators on the cancellation, but Deadline reports that 20th Century Fox is hoping to shop the series around. Again, an issue would be locking the Season 1 cast into new contracts amid busy schedules. 

Thus, American Born Chinese, despite all its acclaim, appears to be a one-and-done series on Disney+, although hopefully gaining a cult audience in the future.

American Born Chinese Season 1 streaming on Disney+.