The Company You Keep is a new hour-long drama on ABC Network that stars Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us) and Catherine Haena Kim (Good Trouble and FBI). Milo Ventimiglia plays double duty on the TV show, serving as both lead actor and executive producer.
The series is based on a South Korean show, My Fellow Citizens. Julia Cohen and Phil Klemmer adapted the show for American audiences and Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians and In the Heights) serves as executive producer.
A night of passion leads to love between con man Charlie Nicoletti (Milo Ventimiglia) and undercover CIA officer Emma Hill (Catherine Haena Kim), who are unknowingly on a collision course professionally. While Charlie ramps up the “family business” so he can get out for good, Emma’s closing in on the vengeful criminal who holds Charlie’s family debts in hand – forcing them to reckon with the lies they’ve told so they can save themselves and their families from disastrous consequences. The series is based on the Korean Broadcasting System series entitled “My Fellow Citizens.”
The show is a fun romp – there’s romance, soapy drama and action. I’ve watched the first three episodes and found the show to be entertaining. There are two sets of families, the Nicoletti’s (a family of con artists) and the Hill’s, who aspire to be the Asian American version of the political dynasty, the Kennedys.
Last night, I attended a virtual panel event featuring some of the cast and creatives of The Company You Keep. Hosted by ABC Entertainment and moderated by Jeremy Tran of Gold House and Michelle Sugihara of CAPE, the panelists shared insights on the television show and what it means to represent Asians on the small screen.
Moderator: What drew you to the role?
Catherine Haena Kim: I’ve been calling it my dream role ever since my first read. Anytime we can see all different kinds of people on-screen, the better…the more we’ll get to see how similar we all are and how uniquely different.
James Saito: What drew me to the role is the immigrant story, that he’s made a success out of himself in America and the stature that he’s reached and the love of his family. That’s something that I wanted to portray.
Freda Foh Shen: What really brought me to this script is the immigrant story and the assimilation stories. What I love about this script is that we are American first and ethnic second. [On the television show], we have a Korean father and a Chinese mother. The children grow up with dual backgrounds.
Moderator: Jon, what drew you to the series?
Jon M. Chu: The projects [me and my team] look for are projects that redefine identity, but are also very entertaining. It’s entertainment first and yet has something relevant to say. The show is entertaining and exciting. The second thing that fascinated me is it’s about lies and identity. The Hill family reminds me of my family in a lot of ways.
Moderator: The series draws parallels between the Hill’s and the Nicolletti’s. How would you describe their similarities and differences?
Catherine Haena Kim: You have the Nicolletti’s who are the “have nots” and the Hill’s that are the “haves” – sometimes you always want to root for the underdog, especially because you have this family of grifters, in the Nicolletti’s who only steal from the undeserving. But you look at the Hill family and they actually don’t from money, they built this family and their success and their wealth with the sweat on their backs. They created this political dynasty on their own. If you’re willing to work hard enough, you can reap the benefits.
Moderator: Which character are you most like in real life?
Catherine Haena Kim: I’m most and least like Emma. I’m very curious about important things. In a world where we love to overshare everything, if Emma does her job right [as a CIA officer], nobody will ever know. She makes a point to be invisible in an oversaturated world and I think that is very interesting.
James Saito: There are a lot of elements of Joe Hill that I have, especially when he was younger, working his way through politics, that’s how I felt about acting. I’ve been doing it for 48 years and it’s been my main focus. I’ve sacrificed relationships and comfort to pursue [acting]. We have that same drive.
Freda Foh Shen: I feel both a strong affinity and also very different from my character Grace. We grew up somewhat similar, not at the same financial level, but my parents did manage to send me to a prep school in Massachusetts. Then I went to an Ivy League college. Unfortunately I never met my “Joe Hill” at the college. I do have a strong interest in politics and how political things get done.
Thank you to ABC Entertainment for allowing me to sit in on this virtual panel. I loved hearing the actors and Jon M. Chu share their experiences. Want to hear additional insights? Check out this video featurette highlighting series star and executive producer Milo Ventimiglia!
A new episode of The Company You Keep airs this Sunday evening, March 19 at 10/9c. If you haven’t watched the show yet, you can binge-watch past episodes on Hulu.
Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I attended a virtual panel and was provided digital screeners which helped facilitate this review. Images shown in this post are used with permission. As always, my opinions are 100% my own.