Simu Liu Blasts 'Kim's Convenience' Producers over Its Ungraceful End
The star has vented a huge amount of frustration in an explosive Facebook post explaining why the show "can't be 'saved'"
Published Jun 02, 2021In March, it was announced that Kim's Convenience would be coming to an end following its Season 5 finale in April — a decision that left star Simu Liu feeling "pretty f**king angry." As the show's final season lands on Netflix today, Liu has vented a huge amount of frustration about the sudden and increasingly messy end of the successful CBC sitcom.
Looking to address "a lot of talk and speculation about what happened," Liu first explains in a lengthy Facebook post how and why Kim's Convenience "can't be 'saved.'"
"Our producers (who also own the Kim's Convenience [intellectual property]) are the ones who chose not to continue. Neither CBC nor Netflix own the rights to Kim's Convenience, they merely license it," he writes.
"However, the producers of the show are indeed spinning off a new show from the Shannon character. It's been difficult for me," he continues. "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."
Liu then shares that while he will soon ascend to heroic new heights in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, he remained interested in committing to a potential sixth season of Kim's Convenience.
"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 writes. "I love this show and everything it stood for. I saw firsthand how profoundly it impacted families and brought people together...I wanted very badly to make the schedules work."
However, Liu admits that he was "growing increasingly frustrated with the way my character was being portrayed and, somewhat related, was also increasingly frustrated with the way I was being treated.
"I think this is a natural part of a collaborative undertaking like making a TV show; everyone is going to have different ideas on where each character ought to go, what stories ought to be told. But 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."
Liu also reflects on how he and others on the show "didn't always get along with each other," writing, "This part really breaks me because I think we all individually were SO committed to the success of the show and SO aware of how fortunate we all were. We just all had different ideas on how to get there."
He continues: "Speaking for myself personally, I often felt like the odd man out or a problem child. This one is hard because I recognize that a lot of it reflected my own insecurities at the time, but it was buoyed by things that happened in real life; nomination snubs, decreasing screen time, and losing out on opportunities that were given to other cast members. This is a reality of show business, there is only so much to go around."
Despite the success of Kim's Convenience, Liu writes that he and his fellow cast members "were paid an absolute horsepoop rate," which "really opened my eyes to the relationship between those with power and those without."
"In the beginning, we were no-name actors who had ZERO leverage. So of course we were going to take anything we could," he explains. "After one season, after the show debuted to sky-high ratings, we received a little bump-up that also extended the duration of our contracts by two years. 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 admits that the cast "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. Meanwhile, we had to become the de facto mouthpieces for the show (our showrunners were EPICALLY reclusive), working tirelessly to promote it while never truly feeling like we had a seat at its table."
Finally, Liu writes that the Kim's Convenience writer's room "lacked both East Asian and female representation, and also lacked a pipeline to introduce diverse talents."
He adds: "Aside from [KC creator Ins Choi], there were no other Korean voices in the room. And personally I do not think he did enough to be a champion for those voices (including ours). 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."
Liu writes that he tried to step into that role himself, sending Choi spec scripts, early cuts of other projects he had produced, and voicing interest in shadowing a show director or spending time in the writer's room.
"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," he shares. "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."
Liu concludes: "I'm so incredibly saddened 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. But I am 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."
You can read Liu's complete thoughts below, and Exclaim!'s interview with with Liu and Andrew Phung about how Kim's Convenience has changed the Canadian TV landscape.