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XO, Kitty Season 1: A Review

XO, Kitty Season 1: A Review

A Vibrant, Authentic Story with Many New Twists

Eager to be with her long distance boyfriend, Katherine “Kitty” Song-Covey (played by Anna Cathcart) gets herself into K.I.S.S., the Korea Independent School of Seoul. There, she learns about her late mom — who was a part of the same study abroad program when she was in high school — gains experiences within Korean culture, and learns more about herself than she asked for. 

The series is created by Jenny Han, writer of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before book series that the movies were based on. Although XO, Kitty was not ever a book written by Han, it appears to pick up the storyline a couple of years after the latest film, To All the Boys: Always and Forever. However, now Kitty is the one learning about love.

A Perfect Story

To put it simply, the series is incredible. There is lots of depth in these 10, half-hour episodes. While the very beginning of the pilot — the set up of the story —  is a bit coincidental, fans need to push through it. Once Kitty gets to Korea, a whole world filled with multi-layered characters gets timely revealed. 

There is a nice array of a diverse cast in terms of ethnicity, gender, age, etc. While the main cast includes Kitty and her friends, and they have strong story arcs, it is nice to see the characters of their parents’ generation have an arc of their own, too. This is not usually common, especially with so many characters, in a half-hour show. Nonetheless, the creators of these episodes pack it all in, servicing the characters and allowing them to grow.

Another diverse aspect of the show is the immersion of queer storylines in a relatively conservative setting. Although an often touchy subject, the clash between modern and traditional views on love gets very well and truthfully explored. Thankfully, there is not just one “gay best friend” through whom the show sees this. There is a nice amount of various queer characters; some of who are out, some of who are closeted, and others who are still trying to figure it out. 

Whether queer or straight love, the show does not follow a simple love triangle formation. A better explanation would be a love “zig-zag” that morphs over the course of the show. Although there are many changes as to who has a crush on whom throughout the episodes, it is done with clarity. 

XO, Kitty Season 1: A Review

Strong Characters – But Why Some Stilted Dialogue? 

The story is clear and amazing, and the characters have rich, full arcs. This is quite impressive considering that it is a half-hour rom-com. There are many half-hours out there that barely give two leads a full arc. However, this show manages to do it for at least five characters aside from Kitty. What is smart, though, is how the storylines often branch off of Kitty’s being in Korea. This allows her to remain the central main character while providing agency to side characters. In turn, Kitty and others grow in more than one way, making them multi-layered, too. 

While the characters and the execution of their action is great, the critique falls into the category of some specific dialogue. This particularly goes for when lines feel fake for the character because of the seriousness of the moment and considering their age. 

Sometimes, when a character has an issue that would likely be taken with more seriousness, the actors play it off with some jokes. While this is a drama comedy/rom-com and laughs should be all around, the light-hearted fun portrayed does not always fit the topics being discussed. This in turn sometimes makes these 16-year-olds act like 12-year-olds who want to be 16. To put it simply, this style of acting made it appear like the characters did not know how to handle their situation at all, which seemed strange for their age. 

While this is a critique, it can be seen differently from various perspectives. The jokes fit well with the lighthearted overtone of the show, just not always the content. 

K-Drama-esque! Yet American, Too

To continue on how this show is lighthearted yet dramatic at the same time, this show very well resembled a K-Drama. There are even a couple of hidden jokes here and there, with characters saying things like, “Life is not a K-Drama,” though their lives do feel like it. 

Sometimes the cinematography and editing create this effect, like when there are melodramatic slow-mos of romantic moment close-ups. The focus on the older generation, introducing a theme of family, is what also steers the show in the K-Drama direction. Last but not least, there are very vibrant, saturated colors all around. 

The color palette working with the lighting, set design, and cinematography is gorgeous. Any screen, whether it is a television set or a phone, will come to life with XO, Kitty playing on it. The many brilliant colors have motifs and meanings within scenes and across the series. There is a lot of clashing of colors as well, allowing audiences to notice the emphasis on it and search for the reasoning behind it. While many series and films like to be subtle with those types of theming, XO, Kitty was not, and rightfully so. It animates the show even more.

The season still very much feels like American filmmaking, though, like with the show staying away from major cliches. Nonetheless, XO, Kitty seems to take the best out of both genres and put it together to create a success.

Watch it Now

There is no reason to wait to watch this series, unless audiences are waiting to watch it with their own little sisters. Jenny Han has not disappointed fans before, and she certainly pleased audiences now. Recommended for all ages, XO, Kitty will have something in here for everyone, regardless of their identity.

The first season of XO, Kitty is now streaming on Netflix. Which love match will you root for?

XO, Kitty Season 1: A Review

XO, Kitty Official Netflix Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Sarah Anna Jonas
Sarah Anna Jonas is a current Writing for Screen & Television BFA at the University of Southern California. She hopes to pursue a career in screenwriting and development for television and film. Her goal is to bring more authentic, diverse stories to the screen in order to inspire social change.