- Despite critical acclaim and a talented cast, Disney+ series American Born Chinese has been canceled after one season due to low viewership.
- Other canceled shows like Lucifer and Manifest have been saved by streaming platforms like Netflix, so there’s a chance American Born Chinese could find a new home.
- The cancelation highlights a trend in the fantasy genre, where high production costs often outweigh viewership numbers, leading to premature cancelations of beloved shows.
Despite having a near-perfect Rotten Tomatoes score and two Oscar-winners leading the cast, Disney+ series American Born Chinese has been canceled after just one season. Adapted from Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel, the series tells the story of teenager Jin Wang and his battle with the gods of Chinese mythology. Featuring a big-name cast and elaborate action sequences, it is believed that, like many other shows, the series did not connect with enough viewers for Disney to continue to finance a second season.
While this is the end of the road for American Born Chinese on Disney+, the story may not be over, as the show can be shopped to another streamer by the producers. There are many shows that have been dropped by one platform, only to be “saved” by another. This has included shows such as Lucifer and Manifest, which were both picked up for additional seasons by Netflix after their original cancelations, while the likes of Willow, Courteney Cox’s horror series Shining Vale and Bob Odenkirk-led Lucky Hank proved that big names and popular franchises don’t always make enough of an impact to get a second chance.
From an outside view, American Born Chinese had all the makings of a hit, with a 94% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and 82% from audiences, and a cast featuring Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh, who both saw their careers hit a new high with Oscar wins for their roles in the hit movie Everything Everywhere All at Once. Behind the camera, the talent on the show was just as renowned, with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings helmer Destin Daniel Cretton involved in the series.
American Born Chinese Continues a Worrying Trend for Fantasy Shows
On the surface, American Born Chinese sounds like a regular story about high school student Wang trying to work out how to balance his home and social life, but then he is thrown into a whole new world when he meets an exchange student who opens up a dangerous new world.
This element of the story takes the series into new realms, and that means one thing – an increased budget. Like many other series with fantasy elements, the cost vs viewership conundrum is one that has rumbled on for some time, with shows that have been highly rated and built up a dedicated fan base being canceled early because their cost is too much to justify the overall viewer/subscriber impact.
It is certainly not just Disney+ that have been seen to cancel shows that have failed to justify their cost. Along with House of Mouse’s 2023 cancelation of series including Willow and Muppets Mayhem, Netflix were previously petitioned by fans of Warrior Nun, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, 1899 and The Midnight Club after “early” cancelation. This has opened up many questions about the world of streaming, especially with many of these shows never being given a physical media release and some of them subsequently being purged following their cancelation.
Currently, the full first season of American Born Chinese is available to stream on Disney+, but it could be worth checking it out sooner rather than later with Disney having previously dropped Willow from Disney+ after its cancelation.