“Kim’s Convenience” star Simu Liu has spoken out about the CBC series’ abrupt ending, behind-the-scenes conflicts and “overwhelmingly white” producers who decided to finish the show, also streaming on Netflix, despite unfinished storylines.
With the debut of the fifth and final season of the series on Netflix today, Liu wrote a long statement on Facebook about the producers’ decision to not continue the series after the departure of two showrunners.
“The show can’t be ‘saved,'” Liu wrote. “It was not ‘cancelled’ in a traditional manner, i.e. by a network after poor ratings.”
Liu, who plays Jung Kim on the series, also said he is “resentful of all of the circumstances that led to the one non-Asian character getting her own show,” alluding to the spinoff series “Strays,” based on Nicole Power’s character Shannon, that the “Kim’s Convenience” producers are currently developing.
“I love and am proud of Nicole, and I want the show to succeed for her,” he wrote. “And not that they would ever ask, but I will adamantly refuse to reprise my role in any capacity.”
Liu said he wanted to make a sixth season but had heard speculation that due to his starring role in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” he was considered “too Hollywood” for Canadian TV.
“This could not be further from the truth,” Liu wrote. “I love this show and everything it stood for. 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 compared his series to fellow CBC crossover, “Schitt’s Creek,” stating that the actors on his show were “paid an absolute horsepoop rate” even after it became a success.
“Compared to shows like ‘Schitt’s Creek,’ who had ‘brand-name talent’ with American agents, but whose ratings were not as high as ours, we were making NOTHING,” Liu said. “We also 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.”
Far from being afforded the opportunity to help develop their characters, the lead actors in “Kim’s Convenience” were often told of the next season’s plans just days before shooting, he said.
“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,” Liu wrote. “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 said that aside from Ins Choi, who developed the original play “Kim’s Convenience” and served as an executive producer and developer on the TV series, there were “no other Korean voices” in the writers room, adding that even Choi did not do enough to be a “champion” for other East Asian voices.
The actor disclosed his attempts to contribute to the show creatively, noting he sent Choi spec scripts and early cuts of short films he had produced. “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.”
Liu added: “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.”
In a separate social media post, Liu said that the actors had hoped to produce a sixth season of the series. “This was something we pushed for but were (clearly) unsuccessful at,” he said on Twitter. “Hence, huge slap in the face for us when producers claimed they ‘couldn’t find’ anyone to fill the showrunners’ shoes.”
This was something we pushed for but were (clearly) unsuccessful at. Hence, huge slap in the face for us when producers claimed they ‘couldn’t find’ anyone to fill the showrunners’ shoes. https://t.co/dFSMfGnImh
— Simu Liu (刘思慕) (@SimuLiu) June 2, 2021
“I’m so incredibly saddened 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,” Liu wrote. “But I am still touched by the volume and the voracity of our fans… 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.”