After watching XO, Kitty on Netflix, I was talking about it with a friend who is currently teaching English in Korea. I initially thought it was cute and liked it more than To All the Boys I Loved Before...probably because it reminds me a little more of a Korean drama. That being said...
I had a total change of opinion after discussing it with my friend and really thinking about what I had just half watched (sorry, I really just played it in the background but it's not difficult to follow). While I still think it's a perfectly enjoyable if you're looking for something easy to watch or even play in the background.
BUT...my friend had hesitations about watching it, because her other international friends in Korea who have watched it feel it doesn't portray life in Korea at all.
Which is true. I've never been to Korea, but there were several times throughout the series I wondered if they even shot this in Korea at all. Most of the series is spent in the international school, so you don't really get a sense of Korea, which is a great loss for this series.
On top of that, there were a lot of very American faux pas that made me uncomfortable. Though I probably was less sensitive to them while "watching" since I wasn't absorbed into the series while it was playing.
So, I have an unpopular opinion to share that begs the question of a common character we see in American series...Kitty's character falls into the trap of the annoying American on foreign soil similar to Emily in Paris.
Even though in both shows, the characters intentions are good and genuine, their behavior reeks of idiot, uncultured American. Sorry, I know that's harsh, but...it's true.
There's a moment in XO, Kitty where she realizes where she's gone wrong and wants to prove she belongs so declares in a grand gesture what should be the "hero's speech." You know, the one that sparks inspiration and lights a fire in your belly. But all I could think about was how horrified I was that she stood on the lunch table with her dirty ass shoes. This is so offensive in so many cultures, including I'm sure Korea.
It's this moment that made me wonder, why do Americans always need to be the "hero"? Emily in Paris does this too. Emily always saves the day in some grand way, but often in a way that forces American culture to be the hero no one asked for and no one wants.
It's like going into someone's home, not understanding their culture or their dynamics, and announcing yourself as the new head of house, forcing everyone to conform to your ways...even if you come in with good intentions.
It just feels like we're trying too hard, and our good intentions are sometimes actually harmful.
In the end, these series are meant to be fun and consumed by American audiences. I, myself, enjoy watching them for different reasons - plus, they're just feel good TV. That's something we're good at and known for in our mainstream content.
Still, I wonder where this need for such heroic protagonists comes from...
Also, when we have a chance to share another culture through media and entertainment, we owe it to ourselves and that other culture to show a little more humility.