The new Netflix series “XO, Kitty” combines Korean drama elements with American teen show vibes and multiple prominent queer storylines. The show follows Kitty, a high school student attending the Korean Independent School of Seoul. Kitty speculates about the relationship between her ex-boyfriend Dae and Yuri, the principal’s daughter. The series incorporates slow-motion scenes, melodramatic tropes, and a diverse international cast.
“XO, Kitty” breaks new ground by featuring full-bodied queer romances, which is radical considering South Korean law doesn’t protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination. The show includes fake relationships, a common plot device in Korean dramas. Dae and Yuri pretend to date to divert attention from Yuri’s actual relationship with Juliana, who is considered taboo in high society. However, Yuri eventually ends the fake relationship after discovering her mother knows about her feelings for Juliana.
The show also explores familial challenges, another common theme in K-dramas. Characters face opposition from their families, forcing them to overcome obstacles and embark on personal journeys. “XO, Kitty” weaves together multiple queer storylines, including Q and Florian’s, Yuri and Juliana’s, and Kitty and Yuri’s. These relationships defy societal norms and disapproving parents.
Kitty, known for her matchmaking skills, tries to set up Q and Florian but quickly realizes she shouldn’t assume someone’s sexual orientation or their level of openness. Q, who comes from a less gay-friendly environment, shares his experiences with Kitty, highlighting the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in Seoul.
The inclusion of queer characters in Korean dramas goes beyond representation. Queerness is expressed through music, fashion, relationships, and subtexts, creating a hyper-present presence in these shows. Korean TV has seen a rise in LGBTQIA+ activism, leading to increased visibility and acceptance.
“XO, Kitty” strikes a balance between K-drama elements and queer love storylines. The show showcases moments of romance, dramatic music, and slow motion, treating all love interests as equally worthy, regardless of gender. It manages to embrace and normalize queer love without overshadowing the essence of K-dramas.
The creators of “XO, Kitty,” Jenny Han and Sascha Rothchild, declined interviews due to the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike. However, the show is making significant strides by featuring multiple queer storylines and characters in a country where LGBTQ+ representation is still not widely accepted.
Overall, “XO, Kitty” offers an addictive and binge-worthy viewing experience, blending the captivating nature of K-dramas with the representation and exploration of queer relationships.