This week marked the release of the fifth—and unexpectedly final—season of beloved Canadian sitcom Kim’s Convenience, which ended its run prematurely this year after the show’s producers said they didn’t know how to move forward after the departure of creators Ins Choi and Kevin White. Among the many fans mourning its departure, the release of this final dose of the show’s funny and humane treatment of Asian Canadian life was greeted with a pointed response from series star Simu Liu, who hopped on Facebook to let the world know about the unhappy circumstances under which the show was first filmed, and then concluded.
Specifically, the Shang-Chi star laid out a numbered list of grievances, calling out, among others, the show’s “overwhelmingly white” producers, who, despite their stated inability to find anyone to run Kim’s, are moving forward with a spin-off series (Strays) focused on Nicole Power’s character Shannon, the only non-Asian person in the show’s main cast. “I love and am proud of Nicole, and I want the show to succeed for her,” Liu writes. “But I remain resentful of all of the circumstances that led to the one non-Asian character getting her own show. And not that they would ever ask, but I will adamantly refuse to reprise my role in any capacity.”
Liu also noted that Ins, who developed the series from an original stage play, was the only Korean voice in the writers’ room, and that efforts from the largely Asian cast to have their input taken on their characters’ stories or the show’s general direction were rebuffed or ignored.
We were a cast of Asian Canadians who had a plethora of lived experiences to draw from and offer to writers. But we were often told of the next seasons’ plans mere days before we were set to start shooting... there was deliberately not a lot of leeway given to us… 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.
Liu also admits to what sounds like fairly serious fighting amongst the cast itself, noting that, “We were too busy infighting to understand that we were deliberately being pitted against each other.” This, while also pointing out that “we were paid an absolute horsepoop rate” for their work on the hit sitcom. And while he also expressed his unhappiness at Choi, who departed the show “without so much as a goodbye note to the cast,” Liu seems to hold most of his ire for the producers—especially in an accompanying Twitter post, in which he says the show’s stars tried to keep the series going for a sixth season drawn from their own voices, but were given a “huge slap in the face” instead.
All in all, it’s a pretty profoundly unhappy ending for the series, although Liu was careful to note his love for the series’ fans, as well as the professionalism and care of its day-to-day crew. “You couldn’t ask for a better group of people or a better working environment,” he writes, ending that, “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.”