A Sitcom About The Endangered Path to the Middle Class

January 1, 2018. This article discusses the sitcom, “Kim’s Convenience,” which is a realistic portrayal of the life of immigrants. The article goes on to discuss how the show takes place in Canada and is based on the life of the Kim family who arrived in the country with no language skills, business connections and educational credentials, and they did what so many immigrants in the U.S. and Canada do in real life, start a business. The author highlights that the sitcom is not like so many of the dramatic success stories portrayed on television, but rather it is a realistic depiction of the slow upward middle class mobility of immigrants.

The show has rightfully been heralded for its depiction of the immigrant experience, and in this sense it is certainly realistic — for the U.S. as well as Canada. The protagonists, Mr. and Mrs. Kim, arrive in Canada without language skills, business connections or educational credentials, so they do what many immigrants do — they start a small business. A 2012 study by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a think tank, found that in 2010, 18 percent of small businesses in the U.S. were started by immigrants, even though immigrants made up only 13 percent of the population. In retail, immigrants started 22 percent of small businesses.

For the Kims, as for many real-life immigrants, small business is a gateway to upward mobility. The Kims’ daughter is attending photography school, while their son — despite a youthful brush with the law — is slowly working his way up through the corporate hierarchy of a car-rental company. These are not the dramatic success stories that often feature in pro-immigration op-eds — the Kim children aren’t founding billion-dollar startups or patenting breakthrough inventions or getting tenure at Harvard. Instead, the image is of humble, slow middle-class advancement.

Here is the link to the Washington Post.

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