girlfriday: So there’s this strange phenomenon in dramaland, whereby everything good comes in groups of four. Why is this? Who determined that four should be the magic number?
javabeans: I think, as with so many things, we can trace the root of the problem to Boys Before Flowers.
girlfriday: It’s a great mystery of the universe why that show spawned as many things as it did.
javabeans: Great mystery, or simple answer? (Lee Min-ho. ‘s all you need. I mean, SERIOUSLY. He can kick off any and all trends, no matter how nonsensical. Pink trousers. Corkscrew curls. Cropped-too-short pants. Bare feet and boat shoes.)
girlfriday: Um… he still has all those things, minus the curls.
javabeans: And yet, still so hot.
girlfriday: There are almost too many groupings of 4 to pick just two. Who do we have?
javabeans: F4, obviously.
girlfriday: And F44, the ajusshi version.
javabeans: Sungkyunkwan’s Joseon F4’s gotta be in the mix.
girlfriday: And then there’s the OTHER Joseon F4, with the Rooftop ducklings.
javabeans: Damn, are we tapped out already? But there are still so many 4’s left! There’s ANJELL 4, and Ramyun 4, and Triple 4.
girlfriday: Triple didn’t have three?
javabeans: Oh. I guess that makes more sense.
girlfriday: No one ever said math was our strong suit.
javabeans: But still! More 4’s! Sol Pharmacy Brothers 4, Ojakkyo 4… I do wonder, though: Why are all the ladygroups trios, then? I Need Romance, The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry, My Sweet Seoul… THE NUMBERS DON’T MATCH UP. If this were the real world, that would be a sad, sad story. Always a lonely seventh wheel.
girlfriday: It would be bad for meetings.
javabeans: Except at date-meetings, there’s always that bitch who hogs two boys, so maybe it works out after all.
girlfriday: They pre-screened the group to get rid of her?
javabeans: If only that could happen in real life.
girlfriday: You can only be my friend if you fill out this waiver for the FBI to do a background check?
javabeans: That, my friend, is what we call a red flag.
girlfriday: I’m pretty sure that’s past flag, and into foot-on-landmine scenario.
javabeans: *Mmm, distracted by Lee Min-ho.*
javabeans: IT’S HARD. (That’s what she said.)
girlfriday: Get it together! Eye candy in multiples of four!
javabeans: Okay, okay, back to F4. (Hello again, Lee Min-ho.) Maybe we can’t pick just two F4’s to Thing-versus-Thing, so we expand the theoretical cagematch to four groups of four.
girlfriday: Thunderdome: Foursomes.
javabeans: I’m not sure that means what you think it means.
girlfriday: Or does it?
javabeans: Touché. Let’s do this systematically, and start with leaders. There’s Lee Min-ho, Jang Dong-gun…
girlfriday: Wait, why does Yoochun get to be a leader twice?
javabeans: Ha, I just realized that. Although I guess you could argue that Daemul is the leader of one of those. Or we can swap out ducklings with ANJELLs, if we want to go with iconic foursomes.
girlfriday: Both can play.
javabeans: Are we doing FIVE fours? The math is going to be the end of me.
girlfriday: We can do it! It’ll work. I think.
javabeans: That’s what she said?
girlfriday: STOP THAT.
javabeans: It’s like an earworm. You just can’t get rid of the annoyingly catchy song at will, or without first infecting others.
girlfriday: But you could keep it to yourself.
javabeans: Why spare others when I could share? I’m not a noble idiot here.
girlfriday: Well you’re certainly not noble. (Snaaaaap!) Okay, so leaders… well they’re all pretty diva-esque.
javabeans: I’d argue that Daemul is the “best” leader in that (s)he inspires the others to follow, whereas Hwang Tae-kyung and Gu Jun-pyo are sorta ruling with an iron fist.
girlfriday: Though Yi Gak kinda wins in that he’s a royal, so his posse literally bows at his feet.
javabeans: He gets the easiest pass as leader given his bloodline, but the flipside of that is that he doesn’t earn it, no?
girlfriday: Yeah, he gets backlash when his minions realize that in the 21st century, they get to be on equal footing.
javabeans: And they’ll always have their minor rebellions against him, whether it’s by withholding their beer or crunching food symbolically. On the plus side, at least one of those ducklings is prepared (and trained) to give up his life for him, which I’m not sure anyone else can boast.
girlfriday: I think Daemul’s got a pretty solid bodyguard in Guhro.
javabeans: I buy that he’d risk his safety to save her. I’m not convinced he’d give up his life entirely, though. But Guhro totally wins in the broodiest sidekick category.
girlfriday: Probably. But who’s his competition?
javabeans: Um… rapping gangster chaebol boy?
girlfriday: Or Jung Yong-hwa? I think Kim Min-jong is headed that way.
javabeans: No, not Kim Min-jong! *Sadface*
girlfriday: I know! I have so much involuntary love for any character he plays. It’s such a holdover from the 90s. There’s gotta be a clinical term for that. 90s Idol Hangover?
javabeans: Drama Association Beer Goggles?
girlfriday: The Transitive Property of Drama Hero-dom?
javabeans: As things stand now, though, Guhro’s probably the most thwarted in love, stepping aside so his leader can have the girl instead. Although he didn’t sing her a tearful song, Jeremy-style. I guess Shi-woo hyung might count, but to be honest, I’m not sure he could emote anything, so I put Jeremy ahead of him on the pain scale.
girlfriday: I luff Jeremy. So squishable.
javabeans: He really did give that character added oomph. And yes, *squish.* Guhro did get a bromance out of the deal, though, so you can’t feel too sorry for him.
girlfriday: And not just a consolation bromance, but an epic bromance to end all bromances.
javabeans: Which bromance was more epic, though—that one, or the fanfic slash three-way between the ANJELL boys?
girlfriday: I think Sungkyunkwan still wins all slashy awards. That drama spawned more fanfic than… anything ever.
javabeans: True, Sungkyunkwan’s real-life slashfic way outnumbers ANJELL’s fictional slashfic. The math wins in this one. I wonder if Yi Gak had the best posse, in that none of his boys challenged him for the girl, but were busy little Cupids instead. I suppose F3 were supportive, too, but you can’t really beat matching tracksuits or couple (quartet) tees, can you?
girlfriday: F4 had a quartet of sports cars? Yeah, I dunno.
javabeans: Maybe that’s the rich people version of male bonding. Driving, skiing, shooting, and kayaking together. This is how we support our leader, by having matching cars and boats and helicopters. OH WAIT, JI-HOO. He totally challenged Jun-pyo for the girl. It was a whole thing!
girlfriday: OH. I forgot all about him!
javabeans: I was like, I know there’s a fourth guy, but who was he?
girlfriday: So maybe he wins for most broody unrequited whatchamacallit.
javabeans: He did have pancakes of sadness and other tragic foodstuffs.
girlfriday: And sad hair. Or… was that just regular hair?
javabeans: You can never tell with idols. He had a violin, though. Those are sad, right?
girlfriday: They are when you play them in the snow.
javabeans: And they cut your fingers, mirroring the cutting of your heart.
girlfriday: Pffft. Well then I’m back on Team Guhro, ‘cause he got cut with SWORDS.
javabeans: That was never any contest. Guhro could cut you with his stare.
javabeans: Although if we go back to the whole hair thing… Guhro, mebbe not so much. Does Jun-pyo win for rocking a hairstyle that has no business being rocked, or does Hwang Tae-kyung win for the sheer crazy?
girlfriday: Hair Award goes to Hwang Tae-kyung, hands down.
javabeans: Also, the guyliner award.
girlfriday: Very important. He probably also wins the skinny jeans award, though Yi Gak pulls in quite a showing.
javabeans: Who put up with the most humiliation for the girl, you think? Jan-di sure put Jun-pyo through the wringer, but Yi Gak had Troll hair and acid washed jeans. Still, I’m not sure you can top vomit in mouth.
girlfriday: Yup. Winner. Or… Loser. Each foursome always has a playboy, right? Er, more of a playboy than the others?
javabeans: Lessee, there’s Kim Bum with the saxophone of all cringiness. And Yeo-rim the fashion designer, though he seemed way more cuddly with his bro than with any ladies.
girlfriday: There’s the eunuch playboy Chi-san. Still don’t get.
javabeans: Yeah me neither.
girlfriday: There’s Lee Jong-hyuk, the married playboy. He wins for Biggest Cad.
javabeans: When marriage enters the equation, you stop being a playboy and just turn into an ass. And on the flipside of that, it makes eunuch boy the most harmless playboy.
girlfriday: What about on the friendship scale? F44’s gotta win ‘cause they’ve been friends for twenty-two years. Though… with the time-travelers, have they been friends for three hundred years?
javabeans: I think you have to be conscious for that time to count, so F44 wins. Hwang Tae-kyung seems to have a distant relationship with his ANJELL boys, so he’s on the bottom end of the friendship meter.
girlfriday: I’m trying to figure out what F4 has in common except being filthy rich.
javabeans: F4 have been friends for the greatest percentage of their lives, though, meaning they have shaped each other more than F44, who met as adults, right?
girlfriday: More or less. They met at 18.
javabeans: Whereas F4 have been together since kindergarten and spent their formative years together. Although… I’m not sure that’s a good thing, actually. Can’t you imagine them all being so fixed in their roles that they go to college and are the new jjangs, and then fearfully look over their shoulders half-expecting Jun-pyo to be there with his tyrant’s orders? Compared to, say, the Sungkyunkwan 4, who meet young enough to grow into their ideals together, but have distinct roles outside the group. You know, like avenging and fashion designing.
girlfriday: Ha. I do agree that Joseon 4 has the best grouping of distinct personalities. They have the best new friendship, and F44 has the best old friendship.
javabeans: Do you not love how in this very small sampling of an entirely unrelated topic, we have TWO cross-dressing heroines in disguise cohabitating with their future boyfriends?
girlfriday: Hahaha. So then we have to throw that into the competition too! Which foursome has the best non-boy?
javabeans: Both heroines are doing it to help out their family, so nobility scale is even. On the idiot half, however… One’s a smarty-smart scholar, and the other one glues her fingers together. What adult woman does that?
girlfriday: The kind that vomits in other people’s mouths?
javabeans: Ha. But Mi-nyeo (I just can’t call her Mi-nam, when she’s not a nam and not her brother!) helps her man deal with a crippling condition. Sun-joon needs no such help.
girlfriday: But Tae-kyung finds out right away that Mi-nyeo is a girl, whereas Sun-joon actually accepts the fact that he loves Yoon-hee even if that means he’s gay. Winner!
javabeans: Tae-kyung never really got the chance to test that, so I can’t hold it against him. If Sun-joon were faster on the uptake, he wouldn’t have HAD to face that question.
girlfriday: That’s true. He is quite dim in that respect.
javabeans: Tae-kyung wins for thoughtful gifts. He made her a Pig-Rabbit! And spent a hundred bucks on a plastic hairclip! He wins 100 points out of 10!
girlfriday: Haha, I forgot about his crazy scale and point system. Yes, he does win for best gifty, though it’s his own damn fault for spending that much.
javabeans: Maybe he thought it was 100 bucks out of 10.
girlfriday: He does math like us.
javabeans: Wait, if we’re no longer just restricting the conversation to ladies in drag, do we have to include Jun-pyo’s outlandish gifts into this equation? He bought Jan-di clothes and jewels and a one-of-a-kind necklace and a freaking private plane ride to New Caledonia and I think also Macau… If he’d had his way he would’ve bought her the world, or as much of it as he could afford. Stupid and misguided, but kind of incredibly sweet too.
girlfriday: Urg, rich boys. Then I guess Yi Gak and his black card, rooftop-room-remodeling self is some fierce competition too.
javabeans: Ohhh, right. He bought her a penthouse and a juice store too. C’mon Sun-joon, what’s with your lack of gifting? Or in this scenario, does that actually speak well of him?
girlfriday: Did he not get her anything? That can’t be true.
javabeans: Maybe… a pile of books or something?
girlfriday: Oh, he wrote her those adorable love notes tucked in books. Just what a brainy girl would want.
javabeans: Who wins, star-moon necklace, or star-moon metaphor? One got lost a lot, and the other got beat into our heads a lot.
girlfriday: They cancel each other out.
javabeans: I’ll give it to the ajusshis for being the snazziest dressers. Those sharp suits!
girlfriday: Right? So. Much. Eye. Candy. The only other foursome with decent clothes is Sungkyunkwan, just ‘cause period costumes keep them from veering into fashion WTFery.
javabeans: Yeo-rim did have his flowery fans and luxury silk hanboks, but at least they were still beautiful clothes. A far cry from ripped Flashdance sweaters, saggy-crotched pants of doom, recycling-bin castoffs, or ascots and brocade waistcoats on a 19-year-old. There are just some things that get better with age.
girlfriday: So… which foursome wins the cagematch?
javabeans: The only way to find out is to lock them all in the cage and make them fight it out. Maybe in Jell-o.
girlfriday: Then… Winner: Jell-o.
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- Thing vs. Thing: Time-traveling Heroes
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- Rooftop Prince: Episode 1
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 1
- You’re Beautiful: Episode 1
- Boys Before Flowers: Episode 1