“Ok, see you.”
To millions of us, those words, strung together in that particular order, have become so much more than a simple way of saying good bye.
They mean, “All are welcome here.”, “Life is more than just pain and uncertainty, it’s joy and acceptance.” and most of all, they mean, “I love you.” All thanks to a little television show about a neighborhood convenience store run by a Korean-Canadian family. What began in early July 2011 on the stage of Toronto’s Bathurst Street Theatre ended on April 12, 2021 on CBC television.
It was a messy, complicated ending to a show with a simple message: You can produce a show starring people of color from all walks of life living, laughing, crying and surviving together and everyone will love it and be better for having watched it. I had my own strong opinions about the abrupt cancellation of Kim’s Convenience and I made them known on Twitter the day of the finale.
Then a certain Kim’s cast member reached out to me, both publicly and in a series of DMs.
I couldn’t be more grateful.
She gave me some insight into the struggles Ins Choi has been grappling with for the past five years and more than anything else, she made realize something: He was tired. So while none of us are happy about how the show ended (as one can see from social media posts from fans and interviews featuring the cast) we can all agree that while Kim’s Convenience may not ever air new episodes ever again… the show will live forever. New generations will continue to discover Appa, Umma, Janet, Jung and their extended family for as long as humanity exists on this orb. People of color will be able to see themselves represented on television forever – and hopefully they will be inspired to walk through the door opened by Paul, Jean and Company.
This world needs more stories of immigrants told through more than white lenses. We’ll never survive otherwise.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, the question remains: How do I feel about the fact I’ll never again see a brand-spanking new episode of Kim’s Convenience?
I lost one of my best friends to suicide in June of 2017. I had to watch my mother succumb to bone cancer over the course of two-and-a-half months in 2018 before finally passing in June of that year. (I swear I would’ve been inconsolable in June of 2019 if someone else had passed that month.)
Recently I watched an American president order his followers to stage a televised insurrection (no one can tell me otherwise). My family and I watched the news together and witnessed more than one Black man being murdered by the police. My life as a Niagara Falls bellman has come to a (hopefully temporary) end due to an insidious virus that continues to ravage the entire world both physically and economically.
In short, I’ve been through the wringer these last few years. We all have.
But no matter what I’ve gone through, the Kim’s and everyone in their orbit have been there for me. From the moment Therese extended a hand to Mr. Kim after having an honest conversation about being a drag queen, I was hooked (forgive the pun) by this world and have never looked back. Not a week goes by that my daughter and I don’t quote Paul Sun-Hyung Lee’s lines about Mr. Chin’s beloved Shih tzu, Ginger, when discussing our own representative of that breed, Chelsea.
Kim’s Convenience isn’t just a TV show to me. It’s a warm hug when I’m shivering from the inside out. It’s a reminder when I’m creating my own worlds that the Multiverse is filled with all sorts of people and they deserve a place in my stories. – and everyone else’s. Kim’s Convenience makes me laugh, cry, and most importantly, it makes me reflect on the world around me and the world I’d love to live in someday.
So while this is an “Ok, see you” of sorts, Kim’s, we’ll never say goodbye to each other.
Thank you, Ins, Paul, Jean, Simu. Andrea, Andrew, Sugith and so many others, both in front of and behind the camera. I owe you all a debt that can never truly be repaid.
Ok, see you – until I visit your world again in a few minutes and for the rest of my life.
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