You can feel it when a television show has found its legs. The characters are relatable and unforced, funny but not feeling strained. That’s the state Kim’s Convenience is in as it rolls into Season 3. And why not? The CBC sitcom—returning Tuesday at 8 p.m.—has a legion of Canadian fans behind it and is expanding worldwide thanks to Netflix, Amazon and a recent deal that will see the award-winning program debut in Korea. (A fourth season has already been greenlit, meaning the Kims and their friends are sticking around for awhile.)
When viewers tune in on Tuesday, they’ll see Appa (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and Jung (Simu Liu) working together to right an Appa wrong before Umma (Jean Yoon) finds out. Spoiler alert: they don’t succeed. Meanwhile, Janet (Andrea Bang) is still fighting to be recognized as a bona fide artist and Kimchee (Andrew Phung) is the assistant manager at Handy Car Rental. The cast teased a bit of what this season has in store.
Over the last couple of seasons, Appa and Jung have come together on screen and they have been really big moments. Is it becoming more comfortable now, these two guys spending time together? The situation called for it in the first episode, and I feel as though there’s a softening towards each other. Is that the case?
Simu Liu: If you look at how Jung and Appa left off at the end of Season 2, it wasn’t necessarily a diffusing or anything. We certainly thought that there some sort of reconciliation in the works in the episode before, but then there’s a blow up that happens. It goes to illustrate that no family, no relationship like that is just going to repair itself because of one thing. The past is always going to influence how they are around each other.
I think that’s kind of the tone we’re going into the new season with. I think you will have moments where they’re together and it’ll be what it is, but it won’t be normalized.
Jean Yoon: They come together, they blow up. And they come together.
Paul Sun-Hyung Lee: You also see why they fight. When you see these interactions, you kind of go, ‘Oh!’ Because in Season 1, it’s like he ran away from home or he got kicked out. Why don’t they get along? I think that’s the by-product of seeing them sort of wanting to reach out. At the end of Season 2, you know there’s the desire’s there, but they just can’t do it…
SL: There’s so much history. It’s complicated.
JY: You see how much they are alike, and why as they come together and you get this friction.
PSHK: That’s the fun exploration of seeing that, ’cause it’s like, they’re together, you know they want to repair those things, that rift, but there’s just something fundamental about the makeup, because they are so similar to each other. They’re like magnets. Same poles.
Also, in the first episode back, Jung is faking that he’s going to the job, and then wanting to watch TV. It’s such a great storyline for a television show anyway, having the guy act like he’s been going to a job or school for months and months and months.
SL: To be doing it so that, in part, because he doesn’t want to be embarrassed, of course. But in part also because he doesn’t want his best friend to feel bad about taking his job. I think he really starts the season in the lowest of the low moments.
What can you say about what Jung goes through this season?
SL: I mean, I can’t say too much. I think you see a little bit of it at the end of the first episode. It’s just him getting used to the fact that things aren’t going to be so easy for him. I think when we start in Season 1, it’s like by Episode 3 he’s the assistant manager. Dating seems to be not terribly difficult for him. Now it’s like, ‘No, you lost your chance with the girl that you really like. You lost your job. Your best friend’s the new assistant manager at Handy.’
Andrew Phung: You start seeing Kimchee and Jung’s relationship sort itself out, because there is a new balance between them. I think that was really fun. I think always in those early scripts, I see them, this is such an opportunity for us to see a switch in the character. To see the character evolve. We love seeing characters have highs and lows. We can see Kimchee’s high. He’s coming out, looking fresh, he’s multi-tasking. So you see that character change as well. That’s throughout the season.
It’s a real opportunity for this guy that’s been the laughing stock of the show in every scene for two seasons. I’m assuming that’s not going to totally change, but it is a great opportunity for him.
AP: Going back all the way to the first season. We were work-shopping the scenes. I was trying to figure out Kimchee, because I think [Paul and Simu] had a sense of … you knew your characters. You’d lived with your characters. Kimchee’s new. We came to this conclusion that Kimchee is a genius. He is the smartest guy in the room. He thinks he’s a genius. On the outside looking in, you’re like ‘What’s this guy doing?’ Kimchee’s like, ‘You’re an idiot for not thinking my way.’
It’s fun to see him evolve to now own this role of genius. Now he has power. He’s put it into the workplace, and just having the opportunity to play with Nicole [Power, as Shannon]. There are these wonderful scenes that we developed this relationship we never had. Now we’re peers in the workplace.
Jean, what about Umma and Appa?
JY: On the other side of the world, I think what happens in Season 3 that’s really satisfying is you see Umma and Appa, you see more facets of their relationship. These marital disputes that every couple has gone through. Power play, questions about division of labour and is equal the same as the same? No. Equal should mean I’m better. That kind of thing. Also, we see Appa and Jung and some really interesting episodes with Janet and some with Gerald and a lot of the characters that we’ve all come to love to visit the store…
PSHL: Pastor Nina, Mr. Mehta, Mr. Chin.
JY: Mr. Chin, Gerald, Chelsea, his girlfriend. Again, a lot of those themes seem to be about communication, about boundaries. The driving force is in the end, that you know no matter how bad the conflict is, that in the end, these characters really love each other. These are people who at the end of the day are going to somehow find it in the bottom of their souls to say they’re sorry. And they’ll mean it.
SL: We’re really hitting a comfort zone in our own work. Especially, I think about Andrew and I on our first day of Season 1, just coming to set and basically shaking as the camera’s rolling, because we were newcomers into the whole Kim’s Convenience world, and we just didn’t want to mess it up.
I think about how nervous we were and how anxious we were. How that followed through the entire first season and a bit into the second as well. But really I think what was different for me going into the third was I think you mentioned this confidence, this self-assuredness. But it was just, ‘OK, I have some idea of what this character is and what he does and why he thinks the way that he thinks.’ I feel like I can do the work. I feel like that really gives you room and permission to play and take risks. I think that’s when you get your best work in.
Kim’s Convenience airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.
Images courtesy of CBC.