“With Kim’s Convenience, we’re representing millions of Canadians who have never seen their stories told.”
Kim’s Convenience has changed Canadian TV — next stop, the world
TV SERIES KIM’S CONVENIENCE
SPRUNG FROM THE WILDLY SUCCESSFUL 2011 PLAY BY INS CHOI, based on the playwright’s personal experiences navigating the relationships between Korean immigrant parents and their Canadian-born children. A decade later, the show continues to pioneer the way immigrant families are portrayed on screen.
“It’s so deeply representative of Canadian culture. We certainly celebrate our multiculturalism in our efforts toward diversity and inclusivity,” says actor Simu Liu, who plays Jung Kim. “Now, over the last few years, have we been inclusive and celebratory of diversity on screen? Not as much as we should’ve been. With Kim’s Convenience, we’re representing millions of Canadians who have never seen their stories told.”
He continues, “The amount of times I’ve worked roles as ‘the Asian guy,’ or completely nameless characters, is just too many, and now this gives actors of colour a chance to really cut their chops. I had the opportunity to play ShangChi in the upcoming Marvel movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and we just saw [ Kim’s Convenience co-star] Paul [Sun-Hyung Lee] star in a twoepisode arc on The Mandalorian. We would not have these opportunities if it weren’t for Kim’s Convenience and the doors that it opened.”
Closer to home, Liu feels we’re in the early stages of Canadian small screen success: “Canadian TV is definitely on the rise. I mean, we just saw Schitt’s Creek sweep the Emmys, and we have such a dedicated, more underground fanbase that supports us from every corner of the world. I think it’s indicative of great Canadian television.”
Andrew Phung, who plays Arnold “Kimchee” Han on KC, believes the driving force behind recent TV successes can be attributed to leaning away from the entertainment trends of our neighbours to the south. “There aren’t shows [in the States] like Kim’s, Schitt’s, or Baroness [ Von Sketch Show],” he tells Exclaim! “That willingness to be different sets you apart, and stands out.”
With so many shows shining a spotlight on homegrown talent, Canadiana may be the hottest thing on television.
“It’s incredible right now,” Phung says excitedly. “I’m so proud to be able to open up my emails and see the names of people who are so talented, and are now getting the opportunity to work in front of and behind the camera. Growing up, I couldn’t name a lot of Canadian television shows that blew up the same way they have now.”