Sitcoms/Variety Shows
Barefoot Friends logs perilously low ratings
by | May 6, 2013 | 108 Comments

javabeans: New Sunday variety show Barefoot Friends premiered to lowish numbers three weeks ago, but the real test was whether it would be able to climb up from its initial 5.6% numbers to challenge Dad! Where Are We Going?… but instead the numbers have dropped. Yesterday’s Episode 3 pulled in a frankly shockingly low 2.9%.

girlfriday: That is dismally low.

javabeans: I would hate for Kang Ho-dong to get another show cancelled so soon after his comeback, but let’s be fair: I’ve seen all three episodes and I see why people are zoning out. It’s got a great cast, a confusing non-premise, and a lot of boring filler “missions.”

girlfriday: For one, it takes halfway into the THIRD episode to even get the entire cast together in the same city, which is a confusing way to launch a show.

javabeans: Also, they spent three episodes on the same trip. Even if you disregard the fact that I think they miscalculated by going abroad for the premiere, that’s a long time to spend on one event.

girlfriday: While I understand the purpose of travel shows, I also don’t watch variety for the traveling part. I watch it for the crazy personalities and the spontaneous moments that come out of whatever game/mission/race is the backbone.

javabeans: Plus, the show is apparently not even billed as a travel show. So why focus so much on the traveling? Their producers call it a variety show that’ll depict real lives while the cast undergoes lots of suffering (the variety-suffering kind), but then you set up this premise of forcing celebs to work, and then you basically give them outs at every opportunity.

girlfriday: I know. There’s no actual suffering going on.

javabeans: I feel like Barefoot Friends is the show people think they’re going on when they do 1 Night 2 Days, when they’re all, “I thought we would suffer a little on camera, and then you’d turn the cameras off and we’d eat!” So there are no stakes because although they’re TOLD they have to earn their food and sleep on their own, they’re still given translators and local guides and rules and help.

girlfriday: The thing is, the same show could have stakes if it were done differently. Set up with different rules. Framed as a team vs. team thing. Something that keeps it from trying to be a documentary when it’s clearly not.

javabeans: This is where I’ll argue that they misstepped by going to Vietnam for their first episode, because it both was too much and not enough at the same time. There was so much to do that I felt at numerous points that we were zooming past any chances to tease out the funny interactions, because the guys had some lame and pointless mission to take photos of people smiling, for instance. The best parts were the random funny bits along the way, like Hyun-joong and Ho-dong giggling their heads off about corny puns. I was rolling when Hyun-joong died laughing at Ho-dong for calling the Sahara the Ohara, because in Korean “sa” is four and “oh” is five and he got mixed up, and Ho-dong barked at him, “Don’t you laugh at me!”

girlfriday: Or when the cast reunited fiiiiiinally, and got to compete for who suffered more.

javabeans: And the cyclists were groaning about their sore unmentionables from the bike seats, and the other team was like, “We had to fish!”

girlfriday: Yes. They could’ve separated for the afternoon, done separate missions, and met for dinner. That would’ve saved us like two episodes’ worth of unexciting screentime.

javabeans: There was a great blink-and-you-miss-it moment when Shi-yoon was exclaiming about how hard his mission was (which was great because he actually sucked it up really well at the time), and he actually gets teary-eyed recounting it.

girlfriday: Yeah like he gets a little too invested in his retelling, and actually starts to cry. Ha.

javabeans: I think the main “event” of Episode 3 is a perfect example of what the show’s fatal flaw is: There’s much ado about nothing. The eight members come up with this idea to do this flash mob dance (which, by the way, was SO NOT a flash mob on a base conceptual level)—

girlfriday: I KNOW. There was a stage. Hello.

javabeans: And they invited everyone ahead of time! How is that spontaneous? They spend all afternoon telling people to come to their barefoot flash mob, and then instead of just breaking into dance, UEE gets up on stage and starts performing to the crowd, and then the others join in, and you’re thinking, This is fun, they’re all dancing, but what is the point again?

girlfriday: The much ado about nothing is a good way to put it, because I think that’s why Ho-dong’s other show, Our Neighborhood Variety Sports, is doing well, for exactly the other reason — it’s small, unpretentious, and allows you to get invested in something without having to sell it.

javabeans: It felt like the producers of Barefoot Friends got really excited about their show and left the planning meeting one step too early, like where they decided the actual premise of it. Because I no longer think, “Hm, I don’t know what the premise is,” but rather, “Oh, they forgot to come up with one.” There’s a great cast, strong personalities, and… no purpose. In fact it would have been better to just focus on their moments as buddies and skip the fancy voyaging. I felt like I was watching one of those really dull soap operas where I only care about one loveline, and therefore sit through a lot of boring stuff just to get glimpses of what I want. In this case, the good stuff is the cast members being funny and joking around and insulting each other.

girlfriday: But those moments are too few for an hour-and-a-half show.

javabeans: I won’t give up on the concept just yet, but they would have to retool the concept and keep it in Korea for it to work, I think. Losing the stress of trying to communicate and convert money and navigate a foreign city gives them much more room to be free and comfortable.

girlfriday: Sadly I don’t think the show knows that yet. They’re headed to Indonesia next, which means more of the same.

javabeans: Ack. Then no, I won’t be watching, because I’ve had my fill of secondhand embarrassment.

girlfriday: The real question is will anyone in Korea be watching, because if it doesn’t get higher numbers soon, it’ll get cancelled in no time. No one ever said variety was easy.

Via My Daily


108 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. 51 amber

    I guess everyone’s got different perspectives. I, on the other hand, as a minority, LOVED the first three eps. I liked the cast, liked their missions and adventures.

  2. 52 yuriyuri

    so, this is the conclusion : SBS is failed with this Barefoot-Friends show. I mean, why still insist to compete with those adorable kids and handsome daddies on MBC? LOL 😛

  3. 53 nadhira

    I don’t think this is really bad. I even love it, and always laugh like a crazy in every funny moments.

    and for you guys who even never watched this show, please don’t say this show is boring or something like that, cause hell, you even never watched this show !

    I love eps 1 and 2. but i admit that eps 3 is kinda boring. I hope eps 4 will give me much laughter and will be more interesting.
    and after all, it’s in Indonesia, my country 🙂

    Go Barefoot Friends Go ! I already fall in love with u guys, so i’ll always support till the end. fighting ^^

  4. 54 Aqua1

    1. The biggest no for this show is the fact that the staff are helping them so much. Making them travel without translator would give us so much fun. The cyclo group were quit fun but the other group didn’t have to suffer much. They sold everything immediately because of the fans.
    2. The veterans don’t help the new ones. At the very beginning of RM Ji Hyo was quite reserved. She was like UEE is now. The members helped her though, especially YJS and Haha. They teased her and praised her. Now she’s epic on her own but it’s been almost 150 episodes. Same for Gwang Soo. He was quite but now he’s stealing the show. Editors are helping as well, they’re making all those chracters.
    3. Three episodes for one trip? Too much. Especially if there’s not much going on.

    I hope the producers give this show a chance. I’m sure the members will get along together soon and the show will get better.

  5. 55 Claire

    I think the thing that makes it boring is the editing and that they have to have 2 separate teams..I was asking myself what is the point in dividing them? are they competing with each other?

    I wish they could just make it as a Family Outing: International edition or 1N2D whereas they live in one place and do tasks..

    In this sort of variety show, I think they need to stick together because most variety shows doesn’t work if there’s no “talk show” if you know what I mean because they can make witty conversations and then they can make people laugh from there..

    I can’t compare this type of variety to game shows such as Running RM, it’s a game show so the cast needs to compete and sometimes they don’t need to talk..all they have to do is have a “character” in order to make people laugh..”talk show” is a just a bonus if they are all together..

    I don’t wanna sound biased but I love the editing in RM and whenever I watch an episode there’s not a moment that I’m not smiling..yes, there maybe moments that are dull and aren’t laugh-worthy but still my smile never fades..

    I think the editing in BFF is awful for me..I don’t know but there are some moments that are so dull and boring..I wish they put some background music or just cut it out but I guess they can’t cut it if they’re trying to make an episode longer since 1 destination is 3 episodes I think?

    but that said I’m still gonna watch this just because of Yoon Shiyoon..I really like that guy..

  6. 56 stel

    their mission has no challenge
    because there is nothing to fight for
    it becomes boring
    you what I mean right
    there’s no excitement
    how saddening is this 🙁
    I really love the cast but I can’t take it anymore

  7. 57 shel

    I think Ho Dong and Hyun Joong are hilarious together If this show tanks, someone should come up with something for them to be together on.

  8. 58 hola

    thanks for the recapping….. I wait the BFF the episode 4 or 5….

  9. 59 lovin it

    such a waste of a cast!

    watching it for kang ho dong yoon shi yoon eunhyuk and yoo sae yoon

    hope the ratings pick up!

  10. 60 KimYoonmi

    Mostly, it’s on the editing of the show. The producers because they went overseas thinks that it’s too precious to cut the footage they have, but really, they should have stuck to Korea, done things like dirty jobs, or jobs that are hard, put in a little bit of the Korean fake competition. (You win nothing except bragging rights.) And then went big later once they got the concept.

    I don’t blame the cast. Yoon Si Yoon was really good. Eun Hyeok, I really liked. And the Muscle team was really funny. The other people kinda disappeared because there was no real task for them. It just needs tighter editing and a bit more of a pointless purpose. And that’s more on the producers than it is on the cast to do.

  11. 61 wL

    I watched KHD other new show (Our Neighborhood bla bla) and I enjoyed it much. The rating is picking up too…glad for him 🙂

  12. 62 kdramalover

    Dear Girls, you are too harsh about this show. Of course the show is about traveling because is sponsored by Discovery channel as seen on their outfit. Maybe some ministries of tourism are involved too to promote some spots of their country. And than, it’s about Kcelebrities promoting Korea – that’s why they always start a conversation saying they are Koreans and celebrities. And I really liked if they will translate data about the local spots visited – temple, R&W sands…
    On the other hand it’s not necessary to suffer to make someone else laughing you. I like sometimes 1N2D not for the goals but for the dialogues and jokes between the members. This new team need some time to be accustomed to each other. I guess it’s bed edited too – maybe they lack the material. Hope the rating will grow fast other way like a lot of other Kdramas disliked by Koreans it will be liked by foreigners. By the way, YSY it’s so degrading to provide services for foreigners?
    Anyway, the Dumb and Dumber fragment I like it a lot. Does KHJ really has 140 IQ?!? Ha, ha, ha – I’m a fan of KHJ.

  13. 63 Stevie N.

    @ Abbie, I think I’m looking at BF with a new set of eyes after reading your post and especially this:

    “And the captions after the flash mob said that “Their first footprint was as hot as the sun in Vietnam” or something like that. So I think what this show is about is Korean celebrities going to other places (for now it seems to be all foreign countries, although I do wish they would stick to Korea for a while) to learn as much as the can about other cultures and other ways of life, and to “make a footprint” their with their bare feet, and leave with a better understanding of life outside of their “world”. It’s all symbolic, in that the “make a footprint” thing means to make friends, or make some one smile, or make them happy for a little while. If you think about it, it is really touching. I thought episode three really solidified that concept. ”

    Hmmm. Thank you for making me see it differently.

    I will continue watching! BF, fighting!

  14. 64 Ria

    Such a waste of wonderful cast members. This show has so much potential, if only the pds could figure out what they want to do. They should focus on their format. This show is akin to an essay that has no purpose- at the end, you get a feeling of ‘that’s it? So what?!’

  15. 65 Gidget

    Just marathoned the first three episodes and thought it was hilarious. There aren’t many things that can make me laugh out loud, but this did. Maybe needing to read the subtitles helped soak up the less active bits. But there’s also a lot to observe outside of the main plot points that gives insights into the actors outlooks and personalities. It’s kinda fun watching something that lifts the veil a bit on who they are as people. Like finding it demeaning to serve foreigners. *shooting a hairy eyeball at you YSY…luff ya’ to bits, but did you really mean that? Who else did you think you’d be serving as a cyclo driver at a tourist destination?*

    So if the show’s going to do goodwill outreach theme, I wish they’d pull out the stops. On my wish list: Send them to India and have them do some things of daily life, but in reversed gender roles. Including needing to learn and dance the garba…in opposite gender roles… and in this case, clothes. (Template: the comedy bits used in Bride and Prejudice.)

  16. 66 nadhira

    already watched eps 4, and well.. actually, they’re suffering more in Indonesia *if u guys said there aren’t any challenges in this show*. they have to carry an object weighing around 80kg, just to receive money around 2000-5000 rupiah (0,2-0,5 USD). so cheap. and they have to do it as much as possible.
    I’m also Indonesian, but i never know there’s such a job like that in my country. that’s a pity. it’s absolutely really hard to make money (different than corruptor, who indeed really rich just because they’re STEALING STATE MONEY).

    Well, i think this Variety Shows want to make us know that make money isn’t something easy, so we could more appreciate our life, lucky people. 🙂 that’s a wonderful idea, isn’t it? and bonus, they’re also funny.

    well, there’s so many surprise in every eps BFF. 🙂 looking forward to eps 5.

    • 66.1 Gidget

      Glad to hear Episode 5 is good. What you said reminded me of KHJ’s comment in one of the first episodes.

      He said that he was in a bit of a pity party thinking the life of a celebrity was difficult. However, seeing how hard others have to work made him ashamed of those thoughts. I love that this show draws out those sorts of observations, without being in any way demeaning to the people who really do work at the jobs the celebrities are doing.

    • 66.2 Gidget

      BTW, from the previews, your country is absolutely gorgeous!

  17. 67 Aimee

    I agree about episodes 1 & 2 being a tad boring, and I was only watching for KHJ and YSY, but felt it picked up by episode 3. I like the joking between KHJ and KHD, and YSY is trying so hard. I even enjoyed Eunhyuk, and felt he was starting to come out of his shell. I hope the show continues on, as I think as the cast members get more comfortable with each other, there will be more joking and funny banter. That is why I’m tuning in…not the travel stuff or the challenges, but to see how they relate to each other. KHJ is out of his mind, and always fun to watch when he is just being himself.

  18. 68 Lilian

    The weak point is definitely the fact that there is no clear concept. I don’t mind them using the same location for three episodes but if the focus is on survival, you shouldn’t find a room for them? that was weird….Surprisingy, my fav here is Yoon Shi Yoon. I like his spunkiness and how he was the best at getting the tourists’ attraction. Hyun Joong’s laughter is pretty epic too but moments like these are too few.

  19. 69 ms.herfi

    I think this show being supported by Korean Travel &Tourism Department Ministry and Travel &Tourism Department Ministry of country that they visit.

    The value of this show is for marketing promotion of the travel & tourism country that they visit.

    Since K-POP fever everywhere and Korean actors are famous nowadays, so it’d be more effective if using the most famous Korean actors,boy band personnel,comedians,and host from Korea to represent this show so that it can catch attention more from people (at least by their worldwide fans). And about the mission, it just a bonus, to make this show more interesting,but not as the main.

    So,it’s not proper if the success (or not) of this show is measured just by Korean viewers ratings. Because it’s not a common variety show (talk show or achieve the mission) or even a drama ^ ^. Beside that, response from my country towards this show when they visit here is very very great. We’re excited.

    It’s a pleasure and an honor when this show visit our country,so that foreign people could know little bit about one of so many great panorama in our country. We expect it can effect travel and tourism industry of our country for better way.

    personally, I feel thankful for this show.
    Maybe what I fell is the same that felt by friends in another country.

    I am not sure this show is made with goal for achieving high ratings in Korea.

    And I don’t think market target of this show is Korean only.

    But That just my opinion. Have a nice day 🙂

  20. 70 imaa

    Well i agree this show is somehow boring because each cast stil awkward to each other and the purposes is not clear but it was on episode 1-3.

    If not because of the casts i’m not going to continue to watch it but then episode 4 come out and what? this episode is so funny really! far better than the other. Maybe because they visited different country and not awkward to each other anymore and even each cast are so funny! I hope the next chapter even funnier!

    And hope to see the loveline between KHJ and UEE. Seriously why they are always side by side??

    Oh yeah i heard they change the concept and syuting in Korea and have Lee Hyori as guest. So hope the best for BFF!! Fighting!

  21. 71 chocochoco

    i was reading all of the comments and all of them said the same thing.. that it was boring. i dont know.. i beg to differ on my opinion.. i actually liked the show… i mean the first country wasnt perfect.. it has a lot of loopholes and say concept is a bit vague.. but on the other hand, looking at hallyu stars who are really working their ass off doing local hard jobs in another country.. i think it is an awesome way to feature another country in a whole new different way, looking at our idols in a different light too.. i dont know what rules or concept it should be for variety shows.. but somehow i dont find this boring at all.. its probably a new thing an experimental thing in south korea but i hope audience there opens up their mind and broaden it too..

  22. 72 fifi tan

    The most annoying time is in episode 4.KHD often yelling to YSY. They should support each other when they’re facing hard time,and should be more solid, not make one people bullied by others. It didn’t funny at all,it just an old fashion comedy style. I saw him annoying start from episode 1 when he made bad jokes to eunhyuk Suju (he said eun hyuk should be with another team who has lack of fans too,because eunhyuk just has 1 letter). Running man is more more better than 2d1n because there is no him in RM. KHD makes reality show looks awkward,really,although he is hillarious as MC .

  23. 73 arina

    i actually fell asleep halfway while watching BFF..frankly speaking thers no chemistry between the members…hopefully things ill get better soon..but i like hodong’s other shown on KBS..Hodong,Sugeun and Max are fun..

  24. 74 megura

    actually, when i see SBS come up with a new theme of variety show, i am not interested at all. because for me running man is enough. so i miss 3 episode of BFF. but suddenly, i am surprise with Indonesian theme. its my country, and first though that come from my mine is “this reality show is something” even running man never come to Indonesia. but this reality show choose Indonesia for their second country. Daebakkkk!!!!
    and I start to enjoy this. but after they back to Korea, I feel this show is missing something. they miss the real theme. what i though from the beginning that this show is about how we survive in foreign area or remote area. but, surprisingly they change the theme. this show become common show like talk show. however i still have positive thinking. maybe they should rest for a bit from a long journey. but, its continue from episode 6 till 12.

    i do really hope this show will not be cancelled easily. i star to love this show and love the casts.
    but please, back to main theme. do not go too far from what you plan from the beginning.
    if you think go abroad is too expensive, you can go to remote area around Korea who have traditional language. make them survive there. without assist them with a guide. i think it more interesting than just doing some diving practice in swimming pool. we can not see what “barefoot friends” means.

    goodluck and hope this show will get amazing ratings after this.

  25. 75 JoyInSung

    i actually think just because some parts are boring, it doesn’t mean the whole show is all that bad… i happen to have a blast watching this show, guaranteed laugh trip.. i agree that some boring parts could’ve been deleted but i’m still glad i continued watching because some of the other parts make up for it.. (gendong, the book blowing thing, their harlem shake.. the mountain thing with lee hyo-ri, diving, etc…) i hope it won’t be cancelled.. it’s nice to see a different side to some artists i usually see in drama’s…

  26. 76 kinnah

    for me…i just enjoy watching so far…at least it made me laugh for every episode….

    i would have appreciated their hard work to bring happiness to viewers…

    sometimes a little credit given wont be that tough…..we could have walk in their shoes before we judged..

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