A novel about an older generation of Chinese immigrants became a musical about their children. Themes of assimilation remained but darker subplots were removed to focus on comedy and romance. Reviews were mixed but the show drew audiences and cast the leading lady in an uneven film version.
The show would gain a reputation for being condescending to the non-Americanized characters and would disappear for several decades. David Henry Hwang attempted to update the book in 2002. More on his revision in my next post.
DAVID HENRY HWANG: I think the original FDS ("Flower Drum Song") was demonized during a period in American social history when it was necessary to do so. When APA's (Asian Pacific Americans) began writing our own stories, we needed to draw a distinction between our work and popular examples of these stories which were written by non-Asians. Nowadays, when Asian authors and films are more numerous and popular, we're able to view the original FDS ("Flower Drum Song") in a more balanced and nuanced light.