YMMV / The Joy Luck Club

  • True Art Is Angsty: Every main character, especially mothers, all have messed up lives. Everybody loves it.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Tyan-yu Huang in-universe. He's a Spoiled Brat bullying his child bride but he's also eleven years old and under the thumb of his Evil Matriarch who is pressuring him for a grandson when he hasn't even hit puberty yet. If Lindo hadn't performed her Batman Gambit, he would have been just as miserable as she was. His book counterpart hints that he's just as scared into silence as Lindo is and possibly lies to his mother not only for himself but also to spare Lindo from his mother's wrath.
  • Values Dissonance: Some of the parenting methods from 1920s and 1950s China may seem abusive to a modern audience.
    • Waverly's homophobic comment about Jing-mei's gay hair stylist: "He could have AIDS. And he is cutting your hair, which is like cutting a living tissue." Granted, we're not really supposed to agree with her, but this reflects an attitude about AIDS which was very common in the 1980s, when the book was written. Only the most virulent homophobes would say something like that now.
  • The Woobie: An-mei's mother, most definitely.
    • All the main characters in the film. Most males are either abusive or clueless, with the possible exception of Suyuan's husband and Lindo's husband, so the women are even more sympathetic.
    • Ying-Ying is perhaps the biggest Woobie out of the mothers. She starts off as a Cheerful Child that grows into a Rich Bitch who ends up marrying an awful man prone to womanizing that got her pregnant. After her husband dies and she gets an abortion, she has to start her life all over again. Her relationship with Clifford St. Clair is not portrayed as being loving but formed out of tolerance and she slowly starts falling victim to depression and hears voices which only gets worse when her second son is born without a brain. Ying-Ying is also the only one of the mothers whose husband is dead and she feels as though she can only love him as a ghost.