When it was announced on March 8 that Kim’s Convenience would be ending after five seasons, the cast and fans alike couldn’t believe the news. At the time, star Simu Liu, who played Jung Kim on the show, wrote in a lengthy statement on Twitter about how “heartbroken” he was and that he was “proud of all that we accomplished.” Now, with the arrival of the show’s fifth and final season on Netflix, the 32-year-old actor is speaking out about the show’s untimely cancellation and the news of its upcoming spinoff based on the show’s one main non-Asian character.
“The show can’t be ‘saved.’ It was not ‘cancelled’ in a traditional manner, i.e. by a network after poor ratings. Our producers (who also own the Kim’s Convenience IP) are the ones who chose not to continue,” Liu wrote on Facebook on June 1. “Neither CBC nor Netflix own the rights to Kim’s Convenience, they merely license it. However, the producers of the show are indeed spinning off a new show from the Shannon character. It’s been difficult for me. I love and am proud of Nicole [Power], 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. And not that they would ever ask, but I will adamantly refuse to reprise my role in any capacity.”
“I love and am proud of Nicole [Power], 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.”
In his post, Liu put to rest rumors that his casting in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was part of the reasoning for the show’s cancellation. “I wanted to be a part of the sixth season. 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. This could not be further from the truth,” he shared. “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.”
He also wrote about how he felt the cast and characters of Kim’s Convenience weren’t allowed to grow. “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. 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,” he continued. “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. More importantly, the characters never seemed to grow.”
Even though the cast might not have always gotten along, Liu said that everyone was “committed to the success of the show and SO aware of how fortunate we all were.” Liu went on to say, “I think we’ve all individually done a lot of work over the years and there will always be a mutual love and respect, as well as a recognition of the bond forged from this totally unique experience of being on a hit show that changed the world.” Despite being on a hit show, Liu revealed the cast was paid at a “super-low rate” and they “never banded together and demanded more — probably because we were told to be grateful to even be there, and because we were so scared to rock the boat. Maybe also because we were too busy infighting to understand that we were deliberately being pitted against each other.”
“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.”
When showrunner Ins Choi decided to leave, Liu explained that he personally felt that Choi didn’t do “enough to be a champion for” the Korean voices on the show. “When he left (without so much as a goodbye note to the cast), he left no protege, no padawan learner, no Korean talent that could have replaced him. I tried so hard to be that person,” Liu shared. “My prior experience had taught me that if I just put myself out there enough, people would be naturally inclined to help. And boy was I wrong here. I wasn’t the only one who tried. Many of us in the cast were trained screenwriters with thoughts and ideas that only grew more seasoned with time. But those doors were never opened to us in any meaningful way.”
What saddens Liu the most is “that we will never get to watch these characters grow. That we will never see Jung and Appa reuniting. That we will never watch the Kim’s deal with Umma’s MS, or Janet’s journey of her own self-discovery.” However, he is “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.” All five seasons of Kim’s Convenience are now streaming on Netflix.