Kolorful Palette: Not such bad guys [Bad Guys]
It’s funny how TV can take people that we would normally consider the most depraved dregs of society, and have us rooting for them and even admiring them within minutes. Bad Guys really does cram a lot of “bad guy” archetypes into the mix, but I find myself liking every one of them: the abusive alcoholic detective, the mob boss, the hitman, and even the serial killer.
If anything, TV makes us like criminals more than perfect heroes, and that must not be a secret to script writers since they’re always making heist movies follow the lives of the thieves, and not the victims. It’s weird that we (the viewers) enjoy things in such a seemingly warped way, but I think it stems from a couple different things. For one, I think we naturally want to understand and sympathize with others, especially when it doesn’t cost us anything or require any actual action (which is certainly the case when watching television). Sometimes it’s hard to be sympathetic in real life when we have pesky emotions like fear getting in the way (I personally would be a little scared to befriend a mob boss just because he might have a heart of gold). Mostly though, I think that purely good characters are often boring, and that makes it hard to care. It’s more compelling to watch someone who struggles, but is badass or exemplary at the same time. If the typical knight-in-shining-armor type was also crazy badass and supremely gifted he would be way too overpowered, and who wants to watch that?
From the outset, Bad Guys was quick to have us appreciate our criminals’ more attractive traits. Mob boss Woong-chul is loyal, hitman Tae-soo is focused and remorseful (or so it seems) and serial killer Jung-moon is incredibly intelligent. Off the bat that made me admire all three of them, at least to some extent, and I think those first impressions can make or break a show. The premise of this drama is pretty absurd, and it’s particularly insane to let a serial killer who murdered 15 people work off his jail time by catching someone who has killed about half as many, but I honestly don’t mind. An absurd premise makes for an interesting story; it’s an absurd ending and deus ex machina that ruin a plot.
So far I’m not very interested in the current serial killer that’s on the loose, but I am very interested in serial killer Jung-moon (isn’t it crazy that he’s Hwi-Kyung from You From Another Star?). He’s the big question mark that has me wanting to watch more. Does he even know if he killed his parents? Or is this whole memory lapse thing an act? The scene I drew is of him smiling over the body of a dead puppy, and I really can’t think of anything that could possibly explain that away, so he’s certainly got some psychopathic tendencies (and maybe even multiple personalities). I found it quite chilling that this smile was the only time he openly showed an emotion in the entire episode (I don’t even know what emotion it is, but it’s creepy!).
Still though, I find myself rooting for Jung-moon and wanting to understand him. There’s certainly more to the story, and I’m particularly interested in seeing how his relationship with Goo-tak develops. Why did Goo-tak want him, specifically? Was Jung-moon responsible for the death of Goo-tak’s daughter? If so, I couldn’t really blame Goo-tak for having the urge to kill Jung-moon with his own two hands, and getting him out of prison as a means of doing so. Easier thought than done though, especially once they’ve worked together for a while and the empathy begins.
Apparently I’ve been living under a rock all summer because this is another show my radar completely missed, but its quality is excellent in pretty much every way. I love the casting, and the writing, directing and camerawork have all been stellar with an attention to detail that we don’t often see in k-dramas (just the lighting in the church alone had me impressed). It seems unfortunate that there are no official subtitles for Bad Guys just yet, but hopefully someone takes note of its potential and picks it up before long. I for one would love to see more dramas like this, so the more people who watch it, the better!