The CBC TV show Kim’s Convenience won two prizes at the ACTRA awards in February: the Ensemble award and Outstanding Female Performance. Ins Choi’s play, also called Kim’s Convenience, has been a hit since its debut at the Fringe in 2011. For me as an Asian Canadian, the recognition of the play, and especially the TV show, is long overdue. Kim’s Convenience is more than a strong comedy with great punchlines. It is about making Asian Canadians, who have long been an absent presence in Canada, visible in the media.
For the first time on TV this season, I saw someone who looked like me on prime-time television in my own city. I was channel-surfing one night and saw a familiar red and white TTC streetcar, a Toronto street, and then an Asian man and a young Asian woman. And lo and behold… he was not a gangster or Kung Fu fighter. She was not a bikini-clad seductive sidekick for James Bond, but a student at OCAD. What a nice surprise!
I have grown up and have lived in multicultural Toronto for the last 40 years and all this time there has not been one show about me or the kind of family I grew up in. There are lots of Asian Canadian students, restaurant owners, professionals, storekeepers and so on in my neighborhood, but they don’t seem to appear on TV.