Even though it doesn’t go into much depth, the critically acclaimed Canadian sitcom has a lot to say about Korean cuisine.
Despite the show’s acclaimed success in its fifth and final season, it is depressing that two of its major Asian Canadian actors have now spoken out about racism and difficulties with off-screen underrepresentation.
Kim’s Convenience, based on a play by Ins Choi and Kevin White, explores the comical, everyday, and occasionally deep aspects of the lives of a Korean Canadian family who run a convenience store.
Consider Recent Findings by Two of the Show’s Lead Actors of Asian Descent to Understand Why:
The concept of representation must take into account not just what we see onscreen but also what occurs offscreen and who occupies positions of authority.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Simu Liu, who plays Jung Kim, the oldest son in “Kim’s Convenience,” provided numerous incidents of bigotry.
Liu also noted that after the show ended, the only white actor was offered a spinoff series while the rest of the Asian cast was passed over.
Liu’s complaints included racist storylines, “overwhelmingly white” writers and producers, a lack of opportunities for the show’s Asian actors to grow or influence and shape the show’s direction, and “horsepoop” pay for the predominantly Asian actors.
Many of the cast members were trained screenwriters with ideas and concepts that only grew more developed with time, Liu noted. But nobody ever actually assisted us in breaking through those impenetrable barriers.
This week, Jean Yoon, who portrayed Liu’s mother on the programme, also spoke out, tweeting that the fifth season’s scripts contained “overtly racist” tales.
Yoon, echoing Liu, said that White continued to serve as the showrunner while Choi, the co-creator of “Kim’s Convenience,” had a “diminished presence on set” as the series progressed.
Yoon responded to a now-deleted remark criticising Liu’s Facebook post by saying, “The lack of Asian female, especially Korean writers in the writers room of Kims made my life VERY Unpleasant & the experience of working on the show difficult.
Sadly, their situation is typical of shows and initiatives that feature varied on-screen representation without the off-screen diversity to back them up or provide growth opportunities and support to the people who are the faces of these initiatives.
The cast members’ admissions about the lack of representation or real support for its Asian cast come at a time when there is a growing conversation about anti-Asian prejudice and violence.
The British Spy Thriller Series “Killing Eve” is an Example of this Terrible Reality.
Some have questioned the extent to which diversity on or off-screen can meaningfully contribute, particularly in the wake of “Them,” an Amazon anthology that features a predominantly Black cast in its first season and explores the extensive history of racial terrorism in the United States.
One recent example of this terrible reality is the British spy thriller series “Killing Eve,” which stars Korean-Canadian Sandra Oh but was criticised last year for having a mostly white writers room.
A writer for Vulture called the show “pure degradation porn” and said, “It is a striking refutation to Hollywood’s notion that representation behind and in front of the camera can heal its underlying bigotry.”
The movie “Them” has drawn harsh criticism for appealing to white audiences who can be startled by such vivid and demeaning displays of racist cruelty.
New information from the “Kim’s Convenience” crew has shed light on this issue, as have other depressing examples of unequal on- and off-screen representation and stories about people of colour that were produced for white audiences.
That was common knowledge, anyway: simply including people of colour and other oppressed groups in your work is not enough to combat systematic racism.
The issue of representation has several elements, such as dramatic shifts in the power dynamic onscreen, offscreen, and perhaps even in the audience’s gaze. Thanks for reading our article Why ‘Kim’s Convenience’ Is ‘Quietly Revolutionary’.