Canadian single-cam sitcom, Kim’s Convenience, is on Netflix–and considering that it centers on a Korean family, I sat down with my own to see how it holds up to all the other beloved sitcoms. Asian families are one of the least represented in the Western hemisphere, so did Kim’s Convenience live up to our expectations?
I am super happy to say that yes, it lived up to our expectations. My family enjoyed the first two seasons that are available on Netflix (the third will be airing early next year), and so I will be reviewing them here!
The show is based on a play by Ins Choi and follows the life of a Korean-Canadian family, the Kims, that owns a convenience store. The show does a wonderful job of showing the all-too-relatable stereotypes of the characters, like the church-going mother who wants to look good in front of others, while fleshing them out in much more depth to show that they are more than these stereotypes. This mother was also a dancer with a horde of fan boys back in the day.
There is great dynamic and chemistry among not only the family members but also the supporting cast. I feel a bit bad because it’s a show full of Asians but my favorite is actually non-Asian Shannon, the awkward, quirky, and lovable boss of the car rental place the son, Jung, works at. The two have great chemistry and a well-done love line is always a plus in my book.
But really, all of the characters are wonderful and pull their weight in making this a great show. None of the comedy feels particularly forced. You aren’t going to be holding your belly laughing most of the time, but you will be amused with good chuckles throughout and some HAHA moments. The acting is also on point! Although the Korean accents, even from the Koreans, are kind of horrible (and you might need subs at first). The cast and crew do a great job of shifting tones from lighthearted to a bit more serious or emotional in a very natural and muted way. Those moments rarely take away from the fact that the show is primarily a comedy, but they are effective in showing how family can be…complicated. This is a four-member family with a father (Mr. Kim), mother (Mrs. Kim), son (Jung), and daughter (Janet).
More than anything, I felt like the nuances of the family dynamic were extremely relatable–not only as an Asian but as a human being. Everyone has certain members they feel tension with. Everyone struggles to communicate. Everyone has someone they can lean on. I think all of these intricate dynamics were well played out and explored without being too on the nose. I do like how there is another layer of depth merely from the fact that they are an immigrant/second-generation family, but the primary thing I get out of this is “we are all alike, we are just like you, we are all in this together,” which I think is such an important message. Nothing about their ethnicity is too on the nose, simply relatable. It can be a tricky balance but it’s beautifully done here.
One thing that did bother me was the portrayal of a modern South Korean woman in the form of Jung and Janet’s cousin, Nayoung. I thought she jumped out of South Korea from 2004 or something. I don’t see any girls like her in Korea these days, which made me think for a good while if Kim’s Convenience was taking place in the present or in the early 2000s? Either way, she is an interesting character and I like that she is different, but I have no idea where she came from. That characterization seems strangely left-field.
Moving on, each season is thirteen episodes long, which is nice, because I feel like American sitcoms get dragged out for way too long (for example, Modern Family goes on for about 22 episodes). This makes for a very quick and enjoyable viewing experience. Plus, you know how I feel about re-watchability! Kim’s Convenience is definitely another great one for leaving on in the background and replaying when you need a pick-me-up or distraction. I highly recommend it.
I can’t wait for the next season of Kim’s Convenience! Again, the third one will be out early next year, but in the meantime, you can enjoy the first two seasons are out on Netflix!
More reviews here!