XO, Kitty Based: Is the Netflix Series Based on Real People?

Image Credit: Park Young-Sol/Netflix

Netflix’s ‘XO, Kitty’ is a romantic comedy series that serves as the spin-off of ‘To All the Boys’ film series. The story revolves around Kitty Song Covey, the younger sister of Lara Jean. With both her sisters off to college, the focus turns on Kitty’s life, which takes a turn when she is accepted into a boarding school, the same one her mother attended, in Seoul.

Living in another country and reuniting with her boyfriend, Dae, with whom she’d been in a long-distance relationship, teaches Kitty a lot about love and life. ‘XO, Kitty’ is created by Sascha Rothchild and Jenny Han, who also wrote the ‘To All the Boys’ book series on which the films are based. It might make you wonder if ‘XO, Kitty’ is also based on a book written by Han or has any true origins. Well, let’s find out!

Behind the Story: XO, Kitty’s Fictional Foundation

‘XO, Kitty’ is not based on a true story. It is an original story written by Jenny Han. Following the success of the ‘To All the Boys’ film series, Netflix wanted to explore another story set in the same universe. Instead of further diving into Lara Jean and Peter’s romance, they wanted to focus on something fresh, and Kitty emerged as the obvious protagonist. As it is woven in the same thread, Han approached Kitty’s story just like she would approach her books.

Talking about it, Han said, “I approached it like if I was gonna do another book for Kitty, then what story would I wanna tell? And that was my jumping-off point.” The film series takes place in Portland, and the high school that the characters attend is an integral part of it. Han knew setting Kitty’s story in the same place would make the audience wonder about Lara Jean and Peter and take away the spotlight from Kitty.

If you see the Covey house that we all know and love and their high school in Portland, you’d probably just be thinking, ‘Oh, what’s Lara Jean up to?’ That’s part of the reason why I really wanted to set this story in a different place,” Han told Tudum. She also wanted the series to have an individuality that would allow viewers to enjoy it even if they were unfamiliar with the ‘To All the Boys’ series.

The audience familiar with Kitty knows her as the confident girl who says whatever is on her mind. She is comfortable in her skin and knows what she wants. But all of that is in the familiar surroundings of Portland, where she has lived since birth. To grow her character and explore her fears and inhibitions, Kitty needed to be thrown into a situation alien to her. “She’s the big fish in a small pond, [and] she thinks she knows it all in Portland. Then she has a rude awakening when she’s put in a new place like Seoul. That’s very relatable and universal,” Han added.

Since the show is set in Korea, it couldn’t have been made without the influence of K-dramas. Before they started shooting, Han gave a list of K-dramas to actress Anna Cathcart, who plays Kitty. “Jenny Han had given me a list of different dramas and was like, ‘You need to check these out. You need to get the vibe and the vision.’ It was definitely very helpful for me to watch the magic that they have and try to bring that to our show,” Cathcart told Cosmopolitan.

While ‘XO, Kitty’ is a great addition to the swooning romance stories in ‘To All the Boys’ universe, the creators wanted to craft a story that the audience could relate to. There have many stories about someone with a lack of confidence finding it through their experience in life. But with Kitty, they wanted to flip the narrative and show that sometimes, not having control over things and not knowing everything can also be for the best.

Expressing her character’s situation in the show, Cathcart added, “At this stage of her life, she’s like, ‘Oh, maybe love is a lot more complicated, and that’s okay.’ She’s learning the complication and messiness of it is kind of part of the beauty of it. And I really love that we got to tour the types of storylines that we did with Kitty’s personal love life. It’s amazing to see her giving herself space, to be honest with what’s going on with her feelings.” With all this in mind, we can say that while ‘XO, Kitty’ is not based on a true story, it presents real teenage struggles regarding life and romance.

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