While fans of the hit Canadian sitcom Kim's Convenience were thrilled that the fifth season of the show hit Netflix on Wednesday, June 2. However, that excitement was marred by its untimely cancellation, making season five its final season, despite being initially renewed for a sixth. In spring 2020, the sitcom was renewed for seasons 5 and 6, but the show's creators Ins Choi and Kevin White deciding to instead pursue other projects. "Authenticity of storytelling is at the center of the success of Kim's Convenience," the show's executive producers said in a statement. "At the end of production on Season 5, our two co-creators confirmed they were moving on to other projects. Given their departure from the series, we have come to the difficult conclusion that we cannot deliver another season of the same heart and quality that has made the show so special."
Fans, cast, and crew alike were devastated by this news. What could have caused the co-creators to make this decision?
A Spinoff is in the Works
While Choi's next project hasn't been announced yet, White will be running a Kim's Convenience spinoff series called Strays, focusing on the character of Shannon (Nicole Power) as she pursues a new career in Ontario. However, there has been some controversy around the fact that Shannon, one of the few white characters on a show centered around a Korean-Canadian family, was the one to get a spinoff rankles many, including star Simu Liu.
Liu, whose character Jung dated Shannon, has made it clear that he will not be a part of Strays, admitting that the whole situation has been "difficult" for him. "I love and am proud of Nicole, and I want the show to succeed for her… but I remain resentful of all of the circumstances that led to the one non-Asian character getting her own show," he explained. "And not that they would ever ask, but I will adamantly refuse to reprise my role in any capacity."prevnext
Disappointment in the Process
Liu, who will be making the leap to the big screen starring in Marvel's upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, has been pretty vocal about his frustration with the creator's decision to end Kim's Convenience early. He pointed out on social media on June 2 that the producers were "overwhelmingly white" and that it was a detriment to the show.
"It is, of course, our last season, thanks to a decision by our producers not to continue the show after the departure of two showrunners. There's been a lot of talk and speculation about what happened, and I want to do my best to give accurate information," Liu wrote, explaining that the show had not been "canceled in a traditional network," but that the producers were unable to find another Asian writer after Choi's departure to channel that voice. The 32-year-old revealed how the predominately Asian cast provided input for their characters' stories but were rebuffed and ignored by producers and writers who "lacked both East Asian and female representation" and "a pipeline to introduce diverse talents" for the progression series. "Aside from Ins, there were no other Korean voices in the room," Liu continued. "And personally, I do not think he did enough to be a champion for those voices (including ours)."prevnext
Frustration with the Show's Direction
Liu also expressed that he had grown "increasingly frustrated" with the way Jung was being portrayed and how he was "being treated" on set. "I think this is a natural part of a collaborative undertaking like making a TV show; everyone is going to have different ideas on where each character ought to go, what stories ought to be told. But it was always my understanding that the lead actors were the stewards of character and would grow to have more creative insight as the show went on," he said. "This was not the case on our show, which was doubly confusing because our producers were overwhelmingly white, and we were a cast of Asian Canadians who had a plethora of lived experiences to draw from and offer to writers."
Liu also revealed that the cast wasn't consulted in any way on how to wrap up their character arcs. "Imagine my disappointment year after year knowing that Jung was just stuck at Handy and in absolutely no hurry to improve himself in any way," he said "More importantly, the characters never seemed to grow. I can appreciate that the show is still a hit and is enjoyed by many people... but I remain fixated on the missed opportunities to show Asian characters with real depth and the ability to grow and evolve."prevnext
Tension in the Cast
Liu, who has been the show's breakout star, also revealed that the cast "didn't always get along" with each other either, and that "part really breaks" him. "This is a reality of show business; there is only so much to go around," he said before sharing he always made sure to present a "united front to the press" to keep the focus on the integrity of the work.
Liu also addressed the rumors that he had become "too Hollywood" since being hired by Marvel, which he quickly shot down. "I've heard a lot of speculation surrounding myself — specifically, about how getting a Marvel role meant I was suddenly too 'Hollywood' for Canadian TV," he said. "This could not be further from the truth. I love this show and everything it stood for. I saw firsthand how profoundly it impacted families and brought people together. It's truly SO RARE for a show today to have such an impact on people, and I wanted very badly to make the schedules work."prevnext
A Sad Ending
While Liu was quick to say that the show's crew was "phenomenal," he couldn't help but be "incredibly saddened" by the show's incomplete ending. "That we will never see Jung and Appa reuniting. That we will never watch the Kims deal with Umma's MS or Janet's journey of her own self-discovery," he said. "But I am still touched by the volume and the voracity of our fans (Kimbits...still hands-down the best fandom name EVER), and I still believe in what the show once stood for; a shining example of what can happen when the gates come down and minorities are given a chance to shine."prev