After her success with Lara Jean and Peter, little sister Kitty (Anna Cathcart) is determined to make a match for herself. But with a long-distance boyfriend, the lengths she will go to have to be more drastic than a letter. Getting a scholarship at his home turf, the Korean Independence School of Seoul, she is ready for her magical kiss.
But you can’t carry a ten-episode show with a fairy tale beginning, and as she dresses up to surprise her darling Dae (Minyeong Choi) and instead she finds the rich and gorgeous Yuri (Gia Kim) on his arm. Ready to fly home, she musters up the courage to focus on a better reason to stay, the legacy of her mother, and she embarks on a journey of self-discovery.
Cursed to have more Os than Xs, Kitty settles into her new home and makes friends with Dae’s roommates Min Ho (Sang Heon Lee) and Q (Anthony Keyvan), and fellow American Madeleine (Jocelyn Shelfo) brings a rebellious Breakfast Club vibe. This new landscape of the polished upper echelons of Seoul, peopled by attractive Korean teenagers with perfect skin, is about as sexually confusing as can be expected, but Jenny Han strikes the ideal balance between horny and wholesome. Every character has a rich, full life outside of Kitty’s melodrama and like good friends, they are unafraid to tell her when she is out of line and sort out her priorities.
Whether a Kitty spin-off was always in the works, I cannot say, but Cathcart has grown up from the bespectacled judgemental kid into a charming, goofy rom-com protagonist, enthusiastically hurling herself into situations. This crop top queen embraces new experiences and makes you root for her self-affirmation. The romantic twists and turns can be an aching rollercoaster of half an hour junctions. Still, it is incredibly endearing to see Kitty fall in love with South Korea, including an introduction to the family holiday Chuseok.
It’s a smooth move on Netflix’s part, having invested heavily in K-dramas recently and following the success of Heartstopper, to combine the two into an East meets West, coming-of-age rom-com series, with plenty of baby gays ready to have fun and fall in love.
The wannabe Gen Z aesthetic can be a little cringy at times, with episodes titled after acronyms like TGIF and SNAFU, but embracing that is all part of the fun of XO Kitty. The only thing that would have made it perfect would have been an appearance from sisters Lara Jean and Margot, even just a video call, but the show is unafraid to move on from its origins and forge a future of its own to expand the TATBILB-verse. Without spoiling anything (Bill Hader SNL voice), this show has *everything*, from fake dating to “oh my god, they were roommates,” and it is a colourful, wild ride.
XO, Kitty is now streaming on Netflix
by Fatima Sheriff
Fatima (she/her) is a biomedical sciences graduate and aspiring science communicator. Literary adaptations with beautiful soundtracks call to her, but she enjoys anything with an original concept, witty writing, diverse casting or even the briefest appearance of Dan Stevens. Her favourite films do fluctuate, but her love for Paddington 2 is perennial. She can be found on Letterboxd @sherifff and on Twitter here.
Categories: Anything and Everything, Book Nook, Reviews, TV, Women Film-makers
Leave a Reply