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Homeentertainment'XO, Kitty' Review: Netflix's Korean 'To All the Boys' Spinoff Is Charming

'XO, Kitty' Review: Netflix's Korean 'To All the Boys' Spinoff Is Charming

In many ways, it’s probably no surprise that Netflix’s XO, Kitty is similar to its sister film To All the Boys) trilogy. Like the earlier rom-coms, this new spinoff is a pretty, fluffy romantic cupcake featuring a heroine who fundamentally believes in love and a charming, tender suitor who reciprocates that belief.

but ifTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before The appeal of Lara Jean and Peter being right for each other, no matter how many miscommunications or jealous exes they have in their path, XO, Kitty takes a different tack. The joy of this book is not knowing who should end up with whom, before sighing the whole tangled web of possibility that unfolds before its characters. The result is a romance that lacks the intense chemistry of its predecessor but makes up for it with fresh playfulness befitting its sunny heroine.

XO, Kitty

Bottom line A sweet and pretty teen romance cake.

Broadcast date: Thursday, May 18 (Netflix)
Cast: Anna Cass Carter , Minyeong Choi, Gia Kim, Sang Heon Lee, Anthony Keyvan, Peter Thurnwald, Yunjin Kim, Michael K. Lee creator: Jenny Han

XO, Kitty implemented as early as ofTo All the Boys: Forever and Forever , when Katie (Anna Cathcart) meets a cute boy on a family trip to Korea. Four years into the franchise, Kitty and Dae (Minyeong Choi) are still an item, albeit one divided by 5, miles of ocean. Eager to take their relationship up a notch with their first kiss, 18 year-old Katie transfers to Korea International Seoul School ( Conveniently and cutely abbreviated as KISS). Dae’s school also happens to be where Eve, whose late mother Kitty longs to connect, spent her junior year there. Arrive in Seoul. Kitty, who has so confidently orchestrated Peter and LJ’s relationship since middle school, is shocked to find out that Da has a second girlfriend, Yuri (Jin Jia). She’s even more confused when she starts developing feelings for other potential partners. By the finale, the love triangle had blossomed into a hexagonal love affair, and there were enough unresolved endings to get us into a possible second season.

Along the way, XO, Kitty throws every rom-com trope it can think of, with a self-aware cute side. There are faux relationships and foes versus lovers, even a PG version of the stuff where two travelers are asked to share a single bed – all set against the photogenic KISS campus with its cozy corners, Pastel furniture and everlasting trees in full bloom in spring. (Don’t pay too much attention to the fact that this story actually takes place in the fall.) “Life isn’t a K-drama,” a classmate taunts Katie—just before Dai enters with all the slow-motion zoom-ins, angelic lights, and jingling Music fit for a romantic TV hero.

XO, Kitty is set in an international school, making it easy to play with the culture clash aspect of Kitty’s storyline. She may not know Korean traditions like Chuseok (basically Thanksgiving “minus the genocide” with Yuri’s deadpan face), but when she’s surrounded by so many characters from elsewhere, she’s hardly an Emily in Paris or London’s Ted Lasso country itself, or anyone used to dealing with travelers and expats. The choice also deftly sidesteps the trickier conversations about different cultural attitudes to sex and romance, including storylines about gay characters.

But it also means that we have limited knowledge of Kitty’s views on culture surrounding her, other than the occasional comment like “Although I’m half Korean, sometimes I feel like Zero myself.” The storyline about Kitty trying to get closer to her mother by revisiting some of her favorite places eventually turns to a more narratively but less emotionally resonant mystery about Eve and her KISS buddies ( What the hell happened between Yuri’s mother Jina, played by Yunjin Kim).

XO, Kitty pushes the narrative forward in puberty drama More confidence in development. Throughout To All the Boys and on Amazon 1235164802The Summer I Turned Pretty, creator Jenny Han demonstrates a knack for balancing heady romantic complexities with a deep empathy for youth’s uncertainty. That holds true again here, with Cathcart and Choi forced to consider whether their puppy love is enough to last them through high school as a would-be golden couple.

But like in many teen shows, it’s the vaguely evil characters who make the most impression. Kim digs the loneliness beneath Yuri’s cold mean girl exterior, and Sang Heon Lee steals every scene he’s in as Dae’s snobby best friend Min Ho, whether he’s arguing with Kitty in class or fighting for His elaborate skincare routine leaves no fuss behind.

With so many characters and criss-crossing attractions to keep track of, some can’t help but feel underserved. Anthony Keyvan is any angst-ridden teen’s dream of being Q’s fun, supportive best friend, but his own romance with classmate Florian (Théo Augier) feels like an afterthought to Kitty’s mess. (No wonder he complained that he would rather “put the scissors in my ears” than listen to Kitty complaining about her problems again.) Also, XO, Kitty is able to produce more The chemistry in some of its pairings is stronger than others — and those that burn the brightest aren’t necessarily the ones the script pushes the most.

But chaos is a big part of the show’s take on growing up. “A reason, a season, or a lifetime. Every relationship falls into one of these categories,” comforts one rejected suitor. Although the friends he spoke to seemed skeptical, the series seemed to take his views to heart. Not all the dazzling romances before us end in true love and happiness. XO, Kitty make sure they are worth tasting as well.



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