With three episodes already released, here are our initial thoughts about the series.
Through its clever writing and simple execution, Kim’s Convenience delivers a light-hearted and hilarious look into the immigrant experience in Canada.
About the show:
Kim’s Convenience gives audiences a peek into the lives of the Kims, a Korean family that runs a convenience store in Toronto, Canada. From its theatrical origins in the Toronto Fringe Festival, Kim’s Convenience has met success in its runs at Soulpepper Theatre (in which creator Ins Choi served as a resident artist), before being adapted into a television series for the CBC.
In this television adaptation, the Kims are brought to life by Paul Sunhyung-Lee as Appa/Mr. Kim, Jean Yoon as Umma/Mrs. Kim, Andrea Bang as Janet, and Simu Liu as Jung.
The story so far…
Episode one – Gay Discount
Appa, who runs Kim’s Convenience, offers a store-wide “gay discount” during Pride Week for customers he believes are gay, as a result of an encounter that almost labels the convenience store as “homophobic.” Umma sets up “job interviews” in a concealed effort to set her daughter Janet up with a cool, Christian, Korean boyfriend. Janet lashes out at her older brother, Jung, about being over-parented, claiming it was his fault because he’d left the family.
Episode two – Janet’s Photos
Janet, who attends an arts university, is given an opportunity to show off her photography at a school open house, but comes to find that her father’s been selling her prints. Jung applies for a promotion at work, causing tension with his coworker/friend/roommate due to the power shift. Meanwhile, Umma struggles to explain to her church friends how her photographer daughter and her son, who works at a car rental agency, are leading successful lives.
Episode three – Ddong Chim
Jung faces a harassment complaint at work regarding “ddong chim,” a prank played by Korean children akin to giving a wedgie. Appa commissions Janet’s classmate to take a photo of him at work, resulting in customers being alienated by Appa’s strange actions and change in appearance. Janet is crushed when a photograph she took of Umma gets taken off the “don’t touch wall” at home and replaced by a classmate’s.
The general tone of Kim’s Convenience provides a very light and humourous view into a family navigating their way through the modern-day immigrant experience. The writing is witty in an understated way, and the lead characters are instantly likable. Notable mention goes to Simu Liu’s and Nicole Power’s (who plays Jung’s manager Shannon) interactions, with their characters constantly treading the lines of mildly unprofessional and hilariously inappropriate.
It’s important to acknowledge that although the story is about a Korean family, that it is targeted towards a culturally-diverse Canadian audience. One things to note off the bat is that Appa and Umma do not speak with a typical Korean accent. Paul, who has been on the show since its Fringe beginnings, explained in a CBC interview that the accent is purposely tweaked for the sake of viewers understanding the dialogue. This is an important consideration, as the main humour of the show lies in character banter, and not visual nor slapstick gags.
Overall, the show serves as a friendly entry-point for those interested in watching a story driven by Asian characters. The storyline is straightforward easy to follow, making way for each character to shine.