Before Kim’s Convenience season five finished airing on the CBC, Ins Choi and Kevin White abruptly announced that they would leave the show for other projects. Even though the network already ordered a sixth season, fears that the series would further decline in quality without Choi – its only Korean writer – and White resulted in the studio abandoning those plans. Since the actors can’t fall back on this sitcom anymore, I’ll support as many of their future projects as I can. In the meantime, I’ll share a spoileriffic look at my favorite episode of the unexpectedly final season.
Unlike my previous Kim’s Convenience article, this one will ocassionally refer to Sang-il and Yong-mi Kim by their first names; season five dropped them more often than I anticipated.*
Who’s Pranking Who?
Airdate: March 23, 2021 (#62)
Director: Siobhan Devine
Writer: Anita Kapila
After Sang-il erroneously suspects Janet of pulling a practical joke on him, he declares a “prank war”. She doesn’t fall for any of his pranks, but accidentally reveals that she found an unexpected love during her service trip to Tanzania. Meanwhile, Jung and his Umma care for Shannon while the latter recovers from retinal surgery, and Kimchee oversees the testing of electronic customer service kiosks at Handy.
While it might sound daunting for several season five episodes to balance three plots, I found something to like in each of this installment’s misadventures. Janet’s potential girlfriend, Tamson, seems like a better match for her than did stupid Gerald – who hastily became the latest of several potential boyfriends for Janet last season. Even though this marks Tamson’s only appearance, the actresses demonstrate a believable attraction considering their characters’ circumstances. Abruptness a viewer might sense behind their first kiss feels tempered by Janet later referring to her sexual orientation as “fluid”, rather than homo- or bisexual, and by her and Tamson deciding to determine slowly if they want to form a committed romance. The other plotlines feel like filler, but provide some amusing humor and typically fine performances. Yong-mi suffers so often this season, that it feels relieving to see her resolve a cultural disagreement with Shannon by the end – even if the writers attempt another painful laugh at Yong-mi’s expense afterwards.
Inevitably, this episode makes it obvious that the cast and writers didn’t expect Kim’s Convenience to end so soon. The question of whether or not Janet’s family can accept her sexuality remains unresolved: Only Sang-il witnesses Janet and Tamson kiss, and he later refuses to tell Janet if he got over the initial shock. Since it sounds impossible for the cast and writers to have prepared for the cancellation, I decided against faulting Anita Kapila for the lack of closure. “Who’s Pranking Who?” provides fascinating setup for storylines that’ll unfortunately remain under-explored.
Violence towards Asian-Americans has reached alarming levels. I’ve started donating to charities dedicated to eliminating hate crimes towards AAPI people, and would like my readers to do the same, even if I personally take no share of the funds:
- Stop Asian Hate: Support Asian Canadians Fund
- The AAPI Community Fund
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta
*Admittedly, I previously thought my reason not to write Sang-il’s and Yong-mi’s first names beyond the introduction to my article about Kim’s Convenience seasons one and two – “the show very rarely refers to Mr. and Mrs. Kim by their first names” – stopped making sense when I started posting my Star Wars reviews. My reviews almost always refer to the Mandalorian by his birth name, which Lucasfilm has so far only used in The Mandalorian Chapter 8 and some tie-in material. I wanted to distinguish him from the other Mandalorians who appear on his show, but later realized that a very attentive reader of my blog – such as one going through everything I’ve written thus far about Paul Sun-Hyung Lee – might notice an inconsistency.