If you’re a fan of the Netflix teen movie series “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” get ready for a new delight: “XO, Kitty.”
“XO, Kitty” is a 10-episode coming-of-age romcom series that just dropped this week. It follows the younger sister of the “To All the Boys” protagonist Lara Jean, Kitty Covey (Anna Cathcart). In the series, Kitty isn’t just the little sister who stirs up the plot by sending Lara Jean’s love letters: now, she’s 16, a junior in high school, and she’s ready to face the world. Or at least Korea.
Following the footsteps of her late mother, Kitty decides to attend an international boarding school in Korea called KISS, to get closer with her roots… and also a guy. Specifically, her long-distance boyfriend, Dae (Minyeong Choi). But when she gets there, she finds out Dae has a new girlfriend — although things might be a bit more complicated than that. Kitty soon finds herself in a charming story of fake love, secret love, family love, and chosen love.
Despite her romance issues, Kitty stays at KISS in order to be connected with her mom and learn more about her. Ultimately, the show turns into a love letter from Kitty to her mom’s, and her own, Korean culture.
The show is filled with Korean life. Most of the cast is Korean, allowing the characters to switch back and forth between English and Korean seamlessly, and draw you into a realistic world. One episode features a Korean holiday, Chuseok, in which characters share Korean food and family values with Kitty for her first time. And, it’s all complimented with a plethora of K-Pop in the soundtrack.
Anna Cathcart, who plays Kitty, was ecstatic to continue the Covey story in her own way. In Netflix’s cast announcement, she said, “Kitty from the movies, one of her defining factors is that she’s very sure that she’s got it figured out and she feels like she knows the answer to everything. It’s also just that middle school confidence that kids have. Now, we’re seeing her not so confident for the first time, and having things shift around her in ways that never have before.”
Cathcart, who turns 20 this June, told Teen Vogue that she is going through the same thing herself as a young adult. During filming, she lived in Seoul for four months, and later moved into her own apartment for the first time. “I’m kind of doing the same thing in my own life,” she says of her character’s world. “I’m going far away from home, meeting brand-new people, and doing something that’s intimidating that I haven’t done in this way before. I’m also in this stage of growing up and [gaining] independence.”
One of the highlights for many fans of “XO, Kitty,” is the LGBT+ characters that help Kitty discover her own identity, both with Korean culture but also queer culture. Cathcart notes that many Asian mainstream media, such as K-dramas, still aren’t very accepting of LGBT communities and don’t often represent them. But it was important for “XO, Kitty” to do this. Cathcart says, “I feel like in Korean dramas and in Asian culture, in general, that’s not really a topic that’s brought to the forefront.” She adds. “So, the fact that we could do that means a lot to me because queer representation, all forms of representation, is really important to me.” Through this representation, Kitty learns more about who she wants to be and how she wants to express herself.
“XO, Kitty” is Kitty’s coming of age story, but we see it’s just the beginning. She adores Korea, but there are still moments she struggles to fit in. She hasn’t figured out everything by the time the 10-episodes are over, and she just starts to find her place. But that’s okay: she has made the step, and the show encourages its viewers to make that step too.
Cathcart says, “You don’t have to have the answers,” sharing that she’s in the same boat as Kitty. “It’s more important to focus on being okay with not knowing them and then trying to find them in the process. You’ll eventually find them; they’re always changing, all the time.”
“XO, Kitty” can be streamed on Netflix today.
By Caileigh Winslade, Senior, ChiArts
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