Fresh off of their Oscar wins, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan now headline the brand new Disney+ series “American Born Chinese” alongside their “Everything Everywhere All at Once” costar Stephanie Hsu. The show stars Ben Wang as Jin, a teenager trying to balance school and home life who meets a foreign exchange student on his first day at school and subsequently becomes embroiled in a battle with mythological Chinese gods.
Yeoh plays Guanyin, a version of the Bodhisattva (someone who is on the path to Buddhahood or bodhi, AKA awakening) who is associated with compassion. She has appeared in Chinese folklore and has been known as the Goddess of Mercy, too.
Little is known of Quan’s character, but his character’s name is Freddy Wong and he is listed as part of the main cast. Hsu, meanwhile, will be playing Shiji Niangniang, who is known as a Goddess in Chinese religion and Taoism but was originally a 10,000-year-old demoness. She was originally thought of as a villain and featured as such in the Chinese mythical classic “Compendium of Information on the Gods of the Three Religions.” So, Hsu could well be playing a baddie in this show just like she did as Jobu Tupaki in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
The TV show will mangle coming-of-age stories with other-worldly fantasy elements and is sure to make for a genre-bending thrill ride with Oscar-winning actors Yeoh and Quan at its heart. Could they soon be adding Emmys to their awards collection?
Yeoh could contend for Comedy Supporting Actress. Her Oscars afterglow is already pushing her up in her odds and she could crack the top eight. Currently, we predict the following will be nominated: Sheryl Lee Ralph (“Abbott Elementary”), Hannah Waddingham (“Ted Lasso”), Janelle James (“Abbott Elementary”), Ayo Edebiri (“The Bear”), Juno Temple (“Ted Lasso”), Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Sarah Goldberg (“Barry”), and Lisa Ann Walter (“Abbott Elementary”).
The same can be said for Quan, who sits outside of the predicted eight nominees for Comedy Supporting Actor: Tyler James Williams (“Abbott Elementary”), Brett Goldstein (“Ted Lasso”), Henry Winkler and Anthony Carrigan (“Barry”), Nick Mohammed (“Ted Lasso”), Tony Shalhoub (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Harrison Ford (“Shrinking”), and Bowen Yang (“Saturday Night Live”).
“American Born Chinese” contends in the comedy categories at the Emmys, which will suit its fantasy-leaning tone. In our current odds it does not number among the eight nominees for Comedy Series: “Ted Lasso,” “Abbot Elementary,” “Only Murders in the Building,” “The Bear,” “Barry,” “Wednesday,” “What We Do in the Shadows,” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
The show’s star Wang is a relative newcomer, who has only appeared in a handful of shows mostly on a one-off basis. It may be too early for a nomination. And directing and writing recognition may be a stretch given the fierce competition. Where this series could really excel at the Emmys is below the line.
Judging by the show’s trailer, “American Born Chinese” will feature plenty of spectacular visual effects captured by dazzling cinematography with intricately choreographed fight sequences to boot. Watch out for editing, too. Meanwhile, the costume design and production design will capture ancient China, fantasy characters, and modern-day American high school life all at once. Sound mixing, sound editing, lighting design, and hairstyling could all be in the mix, too.
Here’s a full list of the categories we think “American Born Chinese” could easily contend:
- Cinematography for a Series (TBD)
- Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes
- Period and/or Character Hairstyling
- Main Title Design
- Period and/or Character Makeup (Non-Prosthetic)
- Music Composition for a Series
- Original Main Title Theme Music
- Picture Editing for a Comedy Series
- Production Design for a Narrative Period or Fantasy Program (TBD)
- Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (TBD)
- Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (TBD)
- Special Visual Effects in a Season or a Movie
- Special Visual Effects in a Single Episode
- Stunt Coordination for a Comedy Series or Variety Program
- Stunt Performance
- Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Series
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