Netflix is poised to make television history with Free Food for Millionaires, the first hour-long Asian American television drama to ever be produced, as reported by Variety. The project is based on the 2007 debut novel of the same name by National Book Award finalist Min Jin Lee (The Best Girls), who also authored the pilot script, NBC News reports. The streamer’s involvement comes about through Vice President of original drama series development Jinny Howe (Bridgerton), according to Variety. Alan Yang (Tigertail) has signed on as an executive producer, though allegedly not in a writing capacity, via Vulture. Lee referred to Yang as a “super genius” in her January 27 tweet proclaiming that the adaptation had been picked up by Netflix:
Taps 🎤: I wrote a pilot script adapting my first novel “Free Food for Millionaires.” Super genius @alanyang wanted to produce it. @netflix bought it. This will be the first Asian American 1-hour drama in Hollywood history. https://t.co/jevo8LM4Nq
— Min Jin Lee (@minjinlee11) January 27, 2021
Free Food for Millionaires tells a familiar story of postgrad discontent and class consciousness, albeit set in the New York City of the Nineties and narrated from an under-represented cultural viewpoint, according to Variety. “It’s a premium Asian American family drama told primarily through a Korean American woman who is at this crossroads in her life, as she graduates from an Ivy League school and is kind of straddling two worlds,” Howe explained, via Variety. She went on to emphasize the originality of the series. “I feel like this is unlike anything else we have on the slate right now,” she imparted in her statement to Variety.
For Lee, Free Food for Millionaires will mark the second instance of her work making its way to the small screen. An Apple TV Plus series based on her acclaimed globe-trotting historical novel Pachinko allegedly entered its early stages of production in October 2020, as reported by ScreenRant. The drama promises to be an epic drama covering huge swaths of time in the life of one resilient Asian migrant family: “Pachinko follows four generations of a Korean family as they move to Japan, amidst the country’s colonization of Korea and other seismic political and cultural shifts,” via Forbes. Lee reportedly spent four years in Tokyo as part of her research process for the novel, according to her official website. The international cast is led by pop idol Lee Min-ho (Boys Over Flowers), ScreenRant reports. Pachinko‘s showrunner is Korean American writer-producer Soo Hugh (The Whispers), according to The Hollywood Reporter.