On the surface, sitcoms are a series that follow the same set of quirky characters as they navigate their way through this crazy thing called life.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly where many sitcoms begin and end: on the surface.
There are several series that succeed and even thrive in this genre-defining mould such as either the British or American version of The Office (for which a trivia night is held at The Green Pub in Vernon Saturday, Feb. 2), Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Seinfeld or the quintessential Friends.
The point is, many shows live and die in this mould, and that’s OK. The above sitcoms are all enjoyable and worth a laugh. However, very rarely does a sitcom truly stand out from its peers. Enter Kim’s Convenience.
This comedy, now in its third season, follows the entertaining and relatable Kim family, the parents of which immigrated to Canada from Korea, and their convenience store in Moss Park, Toronto. Originally written for the Toronto fringe by Ins Choi, Kim’s Convenience began as a side project for the stage.
In an interview promoting the show’s transition to the screen, Choi said he thought that the audience didn’t like the production until the lights came on after the curtains closed. Subsequent shows sold out and sitting in the audience was showrunner Kevin White.
A year-and-a-half later, Kim’s Convenience the TV series was in the works.
Appa (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee), Korean for dad, is your patriarchal patriot and know-it-all while Umma (Jean Yoon), or mom, works to mitigate the division found within the Kim family. Janet (Andrea Bang) and Jung (Simu Liu) is your classic polar-opposite yet strikingly similar brother and sister duo. You get the picture.
While it follows the same pattern of a group of dysfunctional people trying to navigate their way through sometimes bizarre and always entertaining scenarios, a deeper message is wrought through the script of Kim’s Convenience for those willing to give the show some extra thought.
In his 2017 Canadian Screen Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series, Leesaid the show is more than just a sitcom following an immigrant family.
“I have to say I’m an immigrant and I’m a Canadian. We might have some cultural differences, but deep down inside, when it comes to family, we are all the same and that our strength has been and always will be diversity in this country,” said Lee. “I’ve never been more proud to be Canadian than right now.”
Lee won that same award again in 2018 at the sixth Canadian Screen Awards.
Kim’s Convenience is a show that is wont to ignite feeling of familiarity not just for anyone of a different ethnicity, but any Canadian.
That willingness to stray from routine is what makes Kim’s Convenience, which airs on CBC Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and is available through the CBC Gem streaming service, strong.
During an interview with showmaker CBC in a reflection on Season 1, Lee said he thinks audiences will be able to find fragments of their own family embedded in the Kims. What this accomplishes is building a bridge between people of different backgrounds rather than building a wall.
Just as Kim’s Convenience thrives for being outside the norm in a genre polluted with predictability, Canada thrives when it embraces its diversity.
And, well, the show is just so dang funny.