"Kim's Convenience" & The Rise of Asian Representation in Media
Netflix is difficult. I’m the type of person that has officially run out of everything worth watching on Netflix, mostly because I’m not going to watch the rest of Grey’s and because horror is a forbidden genre for me. All rom-coms offer me only an hour or two of respite from the horrors of senior year and writing a BA thesis, and I’ve already finished the new season of Bojack Horseman.
So it was a true breath of fresh air when I discovered Kim’s Convenience, a Canadian sitcom based on a Korean-American family and their daily life shenanigans. The show revolves around the Kim family and touches on subtle yet poignant family dynamics and drama, and provides as refreshingly non-stereotypical bildungsroman.
A heavily Asian cast with a storyline that warms just about anyone’s hearts, Kim’s Convenience started out as a play in 2011, but quickly grew to become one of Canada’s most popular TV shows. Holding over twenty nominations and awards combined, Kim’s Convenience has a clear message beyond its family friendly comedy: representation matters.
With that sentiment, the show does well. The situations that occur are universal to families, but also carry a uniquely Korean tone that I found myself really connecting to.
Simu Liu, a member of the Kim’s Convenience cast, is currently touring universities around North America, discussing the recent surge of Asian and Asian American representation in popular media after the success of movies such as Crazy Rich Asians. On the impact of being on Kim’s Convenience. Liu notes,
“[Crazy Rich Asians has] identified a market where there was no market before: Asian American. This is something that, for some reason, has taken studios forever to kind of wrap their heads around — that this is a market that’s separate and distinct from Asia, and they have very different needs and very different wants for what they see on screen, for what they consider to be accurate representation. So I think just the fact that it did so well puts a pin on the map. This is a market now. This is a thing now. So my aspiration is to be more of a creator rather than just somebody who waits for the opportunity to come. I want to be able to tell the stories and I think we all have a lot of stories to tell.”
The cast is pretty fresh-faced, but still performs crazy well. The show joined Netflix in 2018 with its two broadcasted seasons. Its success has renewed the show for its third and fourth seasons, and I can’t wait to see them!
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