I liked this American Girl episode, much much more than the previous Felicity/Samantha/Kit movies. It was much less saccharine than the other American Girl movies because it dealt with issues of culture, race, and family loyalty. A lot of ABC's, myself included, feel the pull between East and West. A lot of us were forced to go to Chinese school, and it's hard to understand the importance of culture when you're a kid. Ivy is no different: she has trouble comprehending how important family and culture are, and understandably she wants to be more American than Chinese-American.
It's hard enough to find Asian/Asian-American representation in media, and most movies or TV shows with Asians/Asian-Americans fall back on stereotypes. It was nice to watch a story about a normal--not model minority--Chinese-American girl who juggles everyday things like gymnastics, friendships, family relationships, and culture. Yes, sometimes Ivy is a little bit of a brat, but I think that most kids go through that phase at some point, and it's honestly refreshing to see Ivy be frustrated at her mom, sulky at having to attend Chinese school (oh, the memories!), and sarcastic toward her brother Andrew instead of smiling as she garners straight A's.
Also, props to American Girl for casting people who actually speak Cantonese! I'm an ABC and while my Cantonese speaking skills are a little rusty, I can understand Cantonese pretty well. It feels a bit like home to hear Ivy's family speaking Cantonese.
Lastly, I'm impressed that AG actually showed some of the nitty-gritty details of living in SF Chinatown in the '70s. Ivy's grandparents' restaurant looked like a LOT of Chinese restaurants or banquet halls that I've seen in my lifetime, so two thumbs up for authenticity. Her home is a little bit dingy and small--realistic for a family of 5 with a mom attending law school and the father as a security guard.
All in all, I highly recommend this. I'm way out of the target age group for AG movies, but I really enjoyed this as an ABC adult also living in the Bay Area.