Employing the same light-hearted, pastel-coloured tone as its sister film series, XO, Kitty is the ultimate breezy youth romcom for the summer.
XO, Kitty review by Jennifer AJ
The little sister from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movies grows up and is ready for her own swoony romance. But her storybook love story soon hits a skid in this Seoul-set high school coming-of-age series. Then again, what’s a teen show without a dollop of drama?
In the To All the Boys trilogy, Katherine “Kitty” Song Covey (Anna Cathcart) was the precocious baby sister of protagonist Lara Jean (Lana Condor) who set off the chain of events that would bring the latter together with her one true love. Kitty’s since carried the matchmaking cred like a badge of honour. Always a fan favourite side character, the Covey youngest is now getting her own spinoff Netflix series, XO, Kitty.
Now in her junior year and yearning to be with her Seoul-based boyfriend Dae (Minyeong Choi), Kitty decides to surprise him by enrolling at his school, the Korean Independent School of Seoul (which is totally not reverse engineered to spell “KISS” for short). That the school also happens to be her late mother’s alma mater is just the cherry on top. In true teen angst fashion, her grand plan for a romantic reunion with Dae falls apart when she discovers he’s dating another girl: resident rich girl Yuri (Gia Kim). It’s really not what it looks like, but Kitty won’t know it yet. Heartbroken, Kitty must re-evaluate her purpose of being in KISS while navigating cultural differences, competitive academic landscape and a dizzying array of romantic entanglements.
Befitting of its setting, the 10-episode series pays homage to K-dramas by including all the tried-and-true tropes: fake relationship, bickering enemies to lovers dynamic, even a random secret child plot. Kitty also gets to be in touch with her Korean side: experiencing Chuseok (Thanksgiving minus the genocide, as one character pointedly notes), Korean skincare, and the country’s national pastime, hiking - all set to peppy K-Pop music.
Employing the same light-hearted, pastel-coloured tone as its sister film series, XO, Kitty is the ultimate breezy youth romcom for the summer. Once you get over the improbability of a parent allowing his 16-year-old to fly halfway across the world to, in the show’s own words, “have sex with her boyfriend”, it’s a fluffy cotton candy of a cute watch that wears its silliness on its sleeves. Like a slightly more PG-13 Disney Channel show, nothing that happens in the series cannot be solved under an episode or two with a well-timed heart-to-heart talk. As it is, you can’t be faulted for checking out a bit from the jumbling conflicts after a while.
Admittedly, the show never quite knows what to do with its heroine beyond her chaotic love life. The plots are haphazardly thrown together and sometimes appear so out of left field. It could’ve been a compelling story about a young girl getting to know her roots or exploring the complexity of growing up in a foreign place, but the show treats all the potential character developments with the attention span of TikTok. Thankfully, it has an earnestness befitting of the To All the Boys universe and an incredibly winsome ensemble cast that keeps you going with their fresh charm (I see you Minho, the show’s resident himbo Mr Darcy). Like the protagonist herself, it barely passes the grade; but there’s nothing a positive attitude and sunny personality can’t win over.
Published on May 26th, 2023. Written by Jennifer Ariesta for Television Heaven.