Simu Liu, the star of the upcoming Marvel blockbuster Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, has expressed his disappointment over the cancellation of his Korean-Canadian family sitcom Kim’s Convenience.
The fifth and final season of the Netflix series landed on the streamer in June 2021, after it was abruptly announced that the show would not return for a sixth outing as originally planned.
Liu, who played Jung Kim in the comedy, took to Facebook to share his frustrations with the decision to discontinue the series. Referencing the fact that the only non-Asian character from Kim’s Convenience — Nicole Power’s Shannon — has been the one to receive a spinoff, Liu confessed that he feels resentful.
“It’s been difficult for me. I love and am proud of Nicole, and I want the show to succeed for her…but I remain resentful of all the circumstances that led to the one non-Asian character getting her own show,” he said.
The actor also cited the issue of having a show about a Korean-Canadian family be overseen by a predominantly white group of producers, who often would not tell their cast what developments were in store for their characters until soon before shooting. This process left little to no time for the actors to weigh in and ensure that their stories were being told authentically.
“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 has made history as the first-ever Asian lead in a superhero film and trained extensively in martial arts for his role in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. In his social media post, the actor revealed that he had been eager to do a sixth season of Kim’s Convenience but 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.”
Comparing his sitcom to its Canadian comedy counterpart — Schitt’s Creek — Liu noted that things had played out very differently for the two shows and that he and his cast had made significantly less money despite securing higher ratings.
“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.”
Liu said that he was “incredibly saddened” by the show coming to an end and fans will never get to see 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…,” he wrote. “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.”
Liu has been passionate and vocal in his advocacy for the importance of Asian representation onscreen — particularly in the wake of the increase in hate crimes against the community — writing in a guest column for Variety, that he has “heard the classic ‘go back to China’ more times than I can count.”
“The truth is that Asian people have been targeted and discriminated against for far, far longer than COVID has been around,” he wrote. “These recent attacks, fuelled by racist rhetoric in the wake of the coronavirus, are yet another reminder that we are only seen as the foreigners, the unwelcome presence…the other.
“Most disappointing of all, I’ve watched as you, the bystanders and witnesses, have stood idly by and simply not cared enough to speak up.”