American teenage rom-com meets Korean drama in Netflix’s ‘XO, Kitty’

The previous few years have seen a debate about whether or not the romantic comedy (or rom-com) style will ever be fashionable once more. A beacon of hope got here in 2018 with the difference of Jenny Han’s younger grownup novel “To All of the Boys I’ve Beloved Earlier than,” which premiered on Netflix with nice success. And with that, Netflix determined to proceed the story in the newly launched collection “XO, Kitty,” which focuses on the romance of the youngest Covey-Music sister, Kitty. 

“XO Kitty” performs into beloved tropes of the rom-com style whereas additionally holding it recent with enjoyable twists. The best way it completely blends the American highschool rom-com with parts of Korean dramas makes it stand out compared to different new romantic comedies in the intervening time. The chemistry of the actors retains audiences begging for extra of not solely the romances but in addition the platonic and familial relationships as nicely.

The collection follows Kitty as she makes her option to South Korea for a brand new journey. About to begin her junior yr of highschool, Kitty has utilized to a Korean worldwide faculty with out her household’s permission. She did so to satisfy her long-distance boyfriend, Dae, and discover a cultural connection along with her deceased Korean mom. After her father and stepmother comply with let her go, she continues her quest for love and id within the Korean Unbiased Faculty of Seoul (KISS) — a preppy worldwide faculty in South Korea.

Impressively, “XO, Kitty” doesn’t fall into the “Emily in Paris” narrative lure of an American “fixing” the overseas nation to which she strikes. Kitty herself is half Korean, with little data of her heritage. The present frames her as somebody who’s at all times studying and adapting to the brand new atmosphere, making errors alongside the best way.

The narrative is, due to this fact, extra targeted on her studying about her mother’s native tradition and connecting with the individuals round her. One episode sees Kitty working to convey the college collectively to rejoice the South Korean vacation Chuseok, a harvest vacation the place individuals go to the graves of ancestors.

“XO, Kitty” deftly combines Okay-drama tropes — similar to wealth and status as vital roadblocks to profitable romantic relationships — with new twists on American rom-com tropes. A kind of twists is real, not tokenized, LGBTQIA+ characters. Every of them will not be solely outlined by their gender or sexuality but in addition have tales private to them. This contrasts with the “To All The Boys” trilogy, the place the character Lucas is portrayed as a stereotypical homosexual finest good friend.

“XO, Kitty” has three core LGBT characters, all portrayed with the care and dignity of conventional rom-com heterosexual characters. The drama doesn’t sensationalize their id however slightly permits these teenage characters to discover their identities as a part of their progress journeys.

For example, the viewers watches Kitty as she crushes on a feminine character. This second is filmed in an identical method to the scenes of Kitty fawning over Dae; sluggish movement is used to focus on Kitty’s admiration for them. After this preliminary scene, although, we see Kitty attempting to know her blossoming sexuality. The method feels awkward, thrilling and new, which is exclusive for the depiction of queer girls of coloration in fashionable tradition.

A notable flaw on this collection is lead actress Anna Cathcart’s portrayal of Kitty. Cathcart is a reliable actress however lacks the identical degree of depth and pure allure as Lana Candor, who starred as Kitty’s sister Lara Jean in “To All The Boys.” This implies sure vital emotional beats, similar to when Kitty breaks up with Dae and tells him that he was “the proper first boyfriend,” fall flat.

Cathcart’s efficiency right here feels far too rehearsed, which makes the scene awkward and unnatural. Nevertheless, with the time granted in a seamless collection, Cathcart will discover her option to tugging extra successfully on our heartstrings in key moments.

Cathcart’s flaws are compensated by her palpable chemistry with the opposite actors on the present, particularly her a number of and conflicting love pursuits. In spite of everything, it’s not straightforward to persuade an viewers that one can have three totally different love pursuits on the similar time.

The TV collection format supplies viewers with one main benefit over movie: it permits extra time for viewers to dwell with the characters as they develop. Total, “XO, Kitty” is an entertaining and enjoyable watch, particularly for a night-in. Watching varied shenanigans unfold for Kitty and her buddies at KISS conjures up heartwarming laughter.

Editor’s Observe: This text is a assessment and consists of subjective ideas, opinions and critiques.