HomeAAPI ActorsShould AsAm Shows Strive To Be Like Kim's Convenience?

Should AsAm Shows Strive To Be Like Kim’s Convenience?

Paul Sun Hyung LeeIf viewers have not already seen the Asian Canadian sitcom, Kim’s Convenience, they are encouraged to do so.

Though the show has only been around for two years, it has already made headway by winning a number of awards, including Best Comedy in 2017 and Best Performance twice, in 2017 and in 2018.

The series is available on Netflix and has recently been renewed for a third season.

Here is a clip of Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who portrays the family patriarch, Appa (aka Mr. Kim), receiving the latter award in 2018:

But what is it about Kim’s Convenience that makes it so special?

In 2015, critics praised Fresh off the Boat and ABC for finally bringing diversity to TV screens.  However, some critics disagreed with the representation of Asian-ness i.e., Asian Americans are still seen as “other.” Scenes with satirical takes on how Asians eat chicken feet or don’t use their dishwasher to wash dishes (like their Anglo neighbors) place ethnic differences at the center of attention.  In fact, Eddie Huang, whose titular memoir influenced the sitcom, has denounced the show.

Whereas Kim’s Convenience puts the people first by being a sitcom about a dysfunctional family, that just so happens to be Korean. Even the show’s cast shares this sentiment.

The sitcom successfully blends comedy with relatable premises. The biggest example of this is Appa’s estranged relationship with his son, Jung, after he ran away (or was kicked out) for stealing. Jung, played by Simu Liu, has turned his life around ever since, yet tensions between the two remain hostile. This is illustrated by Jung’s response to his sister who asks, “When was the last time you talked to Appa?” Jung retorts, “When was the last time he talked to me?”

In short, the show maintains its cultural differences and shared Korean-Christian faith, while simultaneously focusing on the essence of family and the generational gaps between parents and adult children. And indeed, raises the bar for other potential ethnic comedies.

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