Normally, I review seasons of shows, but for the wonderful show that is Kim’s Convenience we watched every episode Netflix had in one huge gulp. Then we watched it again. And then, again. When I don’t know what I want to watch, this is the show I put on because it will always make me smile, no matter how many times I watch it.
Mild spoilers follow, but nothing major.
My husband stumbled upon Kim’s Convenience scrolling through what was new on Netflix. Because I’m always willing to give a comedy a shot, we watched the first episode. This episode focuses on Mr. Kim or Appa – played by the gloriously hilarious Paul Sun-Hyung Lee – giving a “gay discount” during Pride Week after he refuses to hang a poster he deems an ugly mess in his store. Part of the joy of the series is watching Mr. Kim interact with the convenience store regulars, and this episode is especially good at showing Mr. Kim’s place in the community as a community hub of sorts.
Based off the play of the same name, the show is about a Korean family that runs a convenience store. The oldest son, Jung (played by Simu Liu,) had a misspent youth and is estranged from his father, although his sister, Janet (played by Andrea Bang,) and Umma, Mrs. Kim, (played by the wonderful Jean Yoon,) keep in surreptitious contact with Jung.
One of my favorite moments in the series is Jung coming by to help Janet with a problem at the store. Appa comes home early and Jung gets trapped in the house. At the end of the episode, Appa and Umma are in bed and start singing “I Got You, Babe.” Then it shows Janet in her room – you think she is alone, and then from the floor on the opposite side of the bed, Jung pops up and asks Janet if she thinks they are going to do the whole song. He then proceeds to sneak out while they are singing.
What I love about this scene is that even though Jung is estranged from his father, the love between family members is very much present and shown. It doesn’t surprise the two of them that their parents are singing a song in bed together. Their parents love for each other is something they know and take for granted as reality.
The show is full of really sweet and funny moments like this, and I always hate to call something heartwarming because that term is used way too often for very sad things, while this show is heartwarming in an uplifting, joyous manner. And it is so funny! I’ve had to pause and rewind the show more than a few times because I was laughing so hard I missed what happened next.
While Jung has more than a few moments with his family, his main presence is at his workplace, a car rental business, with his childhood friend Kimchee, played by the hilariously lovable Andrew Phung. Jung’s boss, Shannon (played by Nicole Power,) mildly sexually harasses Jung in the first few episodes, but as the season goes on her awkwardness becomes lovable to both the viewers and to Jung. At one point, Shannon thinks she’s alone in the business, so she sings over the intercom as she shuts down the place. Jung walks in and sees her and is both amused and taken by her being her unself-conscious self. Also, the song she sings about putting away a staple and crushing it was pretty fun – I found myself singing it a few days later while I was doing dishes and crushing it.
It’s a show that can’t be characterized as a family comedy, or a workplace comedy, or even a church comedy, because it blends all three together pretty wonderfully. Mrs. Kim’s adventures at church with her nemesis, Mrs. Park, played by the gorgeous and funny Uni Park, are so relatable for anyone who has ever dealt with a one upper. Mrs. Park is very wealthy and doesn’t mind flaunting it. At one point, Mrs. Park is talking about her Mercedes, and Umma says that she didn’t know Mrs. Park had a Mercedes as she never mentions it. Mrs. Park, who mentions her Mercedes constantly, says, “I don’t? Oh,” and then gives a beautiful, huge smile and says with pride, “I have a Mercedes!” It’s weird that her insecurities and layers of unpleasantness are stripped away by her happy announcement – she has such delight in making the announcement. Just a wonderful, funny moment.
For those of you who have anxiety, like I do, television can be tricky when it’s something new. This show had me anxious a couple of times in the beginning. However, after two or three episodes, I became comfortable because Kim’s Convenience is a kind show. It’s people doing their best in the world – sometimes making mistakes, but always trying to be their best selves. There are moments that are sad or hard, but they are few and far between – these moments also do a good job of showing how the family comes together when one of their members needs them.
I give this show an A+ for being entertaining, completely rewatchable, funny, kind, and just all around lovely. You don’t need to be Korean to enjoy it, but if you are a nerd like my husband and I, you will find yourself looking things up. Korea has a pretty interesting history, btw. We paused a few times to read interesting things about Korea or what “yeobo” means (according to online sources it is like honey or sweetie, but only for your spouse, not a girlfriend or boyfriend.) Now you’ve learned something new!
Netflix has the first two seasons available for anyone who is interested and the show, which is made and airs in Canada, has been given two more seasons for sure – that alone should convey how great of a show it is.
Unqualified recommendation – there is something for everyone in this show and I guarantee you will love it!