“American Girl” is a Taiwanese drama that centers around the life of a teenage girl who had to return to Taiwan from America due to her mother’s illness. The mother, along with her two daughters, Fen and Ann, returned to Taiwan during the SARS outbreak in 2003. Just when Fen had adjusted to her American life and had made friends, she was uprooted and asked to adjust to Taiwan. This deeply affected Fen. The only thing she wanted was to move back to the States. She knew it was nearly impossible as her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, yet she hoped for the impossible.
Plot Summary: Why Was Fen Angry With Her Mother?
Fen was upset with everything around her; the internet was terribly slow, the rooms were too small, and school was tough. From a student who got straight A’s in school, Fen struggled to score the pass marks in Taiwan. She was mostly distracted; she drew horses in her notebooks, reminiscing about her horse-riding days. She found a friend in Ting, but even she grew distant when her mother objected to their friendship. The mothers of her classmates considered Fen a bad influence owing to her low grades and American inclination.
Meanwhile, Ann started to adjust to the Taiwanese lifestyle. She was empathetic towards her mother and did not wish to cause any further trouble. She was grateful for what she had and even expressed her doubts regarding the perfect American life Fen used to describe. She remembered that life in America was not too easy either, and that they took their time adjusting to it.
While the girls were trying to fit in, Lily was struggling with her life and marriage. She met Huay after a year spent in America. The father was unable to join his family in the States due to work commitments in China. Staying away from one another created several differences. The mold in the house bothered Lily. She wanted him to buy a better apartment while he complained about the workload. Lily, at times, blamed herself for all the chaos. She was apologetic for disrupting the lives of her children. She was frustrated with herself; her terminal illness had paused her career growth, and she was back to square one.
Huay was unaware of the likes and dislikes of his children. He did not know them well enough any longer. He tried his best to bring the family together, but the situation was not easy. He bonded with Fen, and to cheer her up, he even bought her a dressing table, though Lily was upset by his choice.
Fen and Lily were mostly at loggerheads with one another. Fen hated it when her mother spoke about her death. The hopelessness of her mother bothered her. Apart from that, she even blamed her to an extent for being the reason why they had to return. She held her mother responsible for showing her a better life and then taking it all away from her. This led to constant arguments that turned into a scuffle in the end.
‘American Girl’ Ending Explained: How Did The Family Come Together In The End?
While the family struggled to keep it all together, there were a few happy moments. From the time when Lily took her daughters to a restaurant that had American food, to when the family got together to color Huay’s hair after he returned from China, They had grown distant from one another to the point where they did not recognize the fears and troubles of each other. Fen knew how difficult the situation was for her parents, yet she was hellbent on returning to the States. She wanted her father to send her there. She was ready to stay there alone as she believed that would truly make her happy. Tired of her school, she decided to visit the internet café one evening, where she logged into her account to talk to Jessie, her friend in the US. She dropped her number for Jessie to call, but the phone never rang. Fen chose not to reply to her message. Jessie had replied to her message and asked her about the SARS epidemic. She knew that her friend could never truly understand her situation and that their conversation would not make it any better for her.
Meanwhile, Ann had gotten a fever, and Lily was extremely worried about her daughter’s health. Huay did not believe in getting tested at the hospital, but upon Lily’s persuasion, he got Ann admitted. He did not want the result to hamper his work trip to China. But the hospital wanted Ann to stay till the result was determined. Fen came home to find her father present; she was about to discuss her opportunity at the school’s speech competition when her mother asked her to not leave the house for school. The only good thing that happened to Fen after returning to Taiwan was now crushed by the SARS fear, and she hated her mother for it. After an argument with her mother, which ended with her father beating her for her behavior, she left home. She traveled to the one place she thought would make her happy. It was a horse farm where she found a horse that looked just like “Splash,” her horse at the US school. She felt emotional, but when she wanted to go for a ride, the horse refused to go. After all, the horse was not the same even though it looked the same. Fen had to face reality and accept the truth instead of hoping for the impossible.
Her father had read the essay she had prepared for the competition. He told her that he would send her to America somehow if she truly wanted to go, but if going to America was her way of escaping her troubles, then leaving would make no difference. He believed that Fen would continue to feel unsettled even if she was in the States. Later, the hospital informed them about Ann’s discharge, she tested negative. We witnessed Huay break down on the stairs. He was deeply emotional and relieved by the news.
At the end of “American Girl,” Fen realized what her father meant; she sat down with her mother and expressed her fear regarding her death. The loss of her mother, and ultimately the disintegration of the family, was what she feared the most. She was scared of the terrible times the family was going through, which is why she was searching for an escape. But her home was where her family members were, and leaving would not solve her unsettling issues. Amidst the fear of loss, sickness, and uncertainty, the family unites in the end.
“American Girl” is a 2021 Taiwanese Drama film directed by Feng-I Fiona Roan. The film remarkably exhibits the emotions the family goes through. The relationship between each member of the family is intricately developed. It is an engaging family drama that touches the heart.