They say laughter is the best medicine and while I’d rather have an actual MD work on me the next time I fall off a sawhorse (don’t ask) rather than Steve Martin, there’s no denying the metaphysical healing power of yuks.
Which brings us to our next reason for embracing life over the chilling embrace of the Reaper…
#73: Kim’s Convenience.
It came into being as a play from the mind of Ins Choi in 2011 and went through changes and tours that took it across Canada and even an Off-Broadway stint in New York City. But carving out a place in Canadian theater history wasn’t enough for Choi and lead actors, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Jean Yoon, so in 2016 they set their sights on world domination. And when that didn’t work out they did what all failed world conquerors do.
They went to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, otherwise known as the CBC. (Canadians are too busy apologizing to pronounce full names.) Kim’s Convenience was retooled as a sitcom centered on the Korean Canadian Kim family who run a convenience store in the Moss Park neighborhood of Toronto. Parents “Appa” (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and “Umma” (Jean Yoon) along with their daughter Janet (Andrea Bang) and estranged son Jung (Simu Lui) carry the bulk of the weight but are supported by exceptional cast members like Andrew Phung, Nicole Power, and Sugith Varughese, among many others. They’re the creation of an amazing writing staff but everyone on this show is offbeat, endlessly entertaining and above all, “real”.
I know what you’re thinking and yes, that loveseat would look amazing in that corner, but also, “But, Hook, television is the Devil’s mind heroin! Between the endless cat videos on YouTube and the Dr. Pepper addiction, my mind and body are already rotten enough!”
Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you (actually, I love it) but the truth is, television is transforming hearts and minds and has been for decades. Kim’s Convenience is… You know what? I could go on and on about the effect this program is having globally but who am I anyway? Seriously, who am I?
At any rate, I’ve decided to enlist a more qualified advocate for the show. Namely, the aforementioned Sugith Varughese, who breathes life into Mr. Mehta, the proprietor of a neighborhood Indian restaurant and a confidante of Appa, who plays cards with him and is one of his partners-in-crime. On most shows Mr. Mehta would be a one-note character whose potential is never fully-realized.
But Kim’s Convenience is not most shows. Here’s why.
“I think our show is changing the world. By creating a family and a community onscreen that hasn’t been shown before yet is instantly recognizable. People see what they know in the show. Or they see behind-the-scenes of what they know.
Now that it’s seen worldwide people who don’t know the truth of the show still get it and translate it as their own. Our little show now connects people all over the world who all relate to it. That’s world changing if you ask me.”
Thank you, Sugith. There’s no way I could have articulated that as well. Fun Muppet Fact: Sugith used to write for Fraggle Rock, one of the greatest shows of all time! I geek out every time I think of that.
My late father-in-law, John Fisher, suffered from emphysema for years and near the end of his life it left him too weak to leave his bed or our living room (which, incidentally, were one and the same) so television became his lifeline. Shows like Kim’s Convenience are giving people all over the world a reason to hang around until the next episode. They’re tuning in to see an authentic Canadian community where citizens from all walks of life, ethnic origins and backgrounds come together to share this wonderful, often frantic journey called life. I’m not suggesting every Canadian community is perfect but Kim’s Convenience shows us how we can survive life’s challenges and heartbreaks by leaning in each other while eating from sad food groups.
(Watch the show, it’ll make sense.)
And for a final word (or two) on the power of this little under-looked televised gem let’s turn to Appa himself, a man who spends more time on social media connecting with fans and enriching their lives than Lin-Manuel Miranda himself (and brother, that’s a lot of time!) the immensely-gifted and gracious, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee.
(Wait for it. it’ll be worth it.)
From what I’ve been able to gather, people are drawn to the show because it’s a show about love. Love of family, friends and other people. It’s about people being kind and doing their best. I truly believe that kindness and love will always, ALWAYS beat nastiness and anger. Give people a voice for good and examples of compassion and kindness and they’ll respond.”
Now, perhaps more than ever, it is vital to take the time to see the world through another person’s eyes. I want to thank Sugith, Paul and the entire cast and crew of Kim’s Convenience for giving us such an enlightening and entertaining collective point of view of this world of ours.
Hope is where you find it, friends.
My father-in-law found it on a television screen. Make the right choices and you can too.
Ok, see you…
(Again, watch the show and it’ll make sense.)