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Five by five in 2015 [Year in Review, Part 3]

So it turns out that the only thing worse than being frazzled to capacity to write twenty reviews at year’s end is forcing a drama addict to choose ONLY FIVE shows to talk about. I’m pretty sure we knew this going in, and I even have vague recollections of saying things like, “Yes! The angst of choosing just five will be the whole point!” I blame the holiday cocktails. I don’t know what we were thinking.

Choosing five shows to represent my drama-watching year was just a new kind of pain. There were clear favorites, of course, but then there were so many that were in that enjoyable-but-not-beanworthy category. And we didn’t want to assign dramas just to avoid redundancy (because writing about what speaks to you is kind of the point), but then I found myself choosing not to write about Healer, for instance, because I knew it would get plenty of love. But that’s no indication of how I felt about the show, because I really did love Healer while it was on, and it remains one of the more memorable dramas of the year for me. I just didn’t think you guys needed to read eight reviews on it. And here I thought The Bean Count was hard.

I waffled a lot on shows like Oh My Ghostess too, which didn’t make the cut because it was neither too aggravating nor too satisfying. It was cuter than cute, but when I look back on that show now, I think: The story left a lot to be desired, and I didn’t really walk away with anything other than Park Bo-young’s performance and a niggling feeling that we never quite answered the who-did-he-really-love question.

In the end, I chose the five shows that spoke to my heart and stuck with me, for better or worse. (Trust me, it can be a bad thing.) In most cases it was my own personal level of addiction that was my barometer: Was I clamoring to find out what happened next? Did it make an embarrassing, blubbering mess out of me? Did I think about it long after it was over, and did it make me remember a bygone first love, or call my mother, or cause me to tweet about my denial over the ending? If it did, then it’s on this list. And because I had to choose five, I decided to describe each drama in exactly five words. Because I like symmetry, and the idea that I don’t have to find a unifying theme among my five dramas other than just wanting to write about ’em.

So here’s my five of 2015 in five. Give or take a few hundred.

 
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Oh Hyuk – “소녀” (Girl) [ Download ]

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Answer Me 1988 in 5: Mi casa es su casa

This series is still airing, but I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Answer Me 1988 is already my favorite show of the year. But it was a surprise for me at the start, because as the third outing in a well-established franchise, it had a lot going against it. For one, Answer Me 1997 is one of my favorite shows of all time, and there’s something to be said for being the first that makes it irreplaceable. Because there’s a decided lack of originality in taking an idea (a hit idea, to be sure) and recycling it year after year with slightly different characters in the same old who’s-the-husband game. And it’s inevitable that the pace will lag when your episodes are fifty percent longer than the norm. I get it—you want to capitalize on ad revenue and increase your ratings share while your potato is piping hot—it’s not like I don’t want you to succeed. You should have all of the monies. But there’s a narrative price you pay for that, and I’ll always prefer short, zippy episodes that leave me wanting more.

That said, the marked improvement of this installment is that the writer adjusted to the format after Answer Me 1994, and is actually writing to the hour-and-a-half length. And as an upside, we get extended storylines for each member of the four families at the center of the story and a chance to develop them as characters, which is what I’ve come to love most about this series. More than any previous installment of this franchise, 1988 is truly an ensemble piece that focuses on family first. The episodes are primarily about the love between parent and child, siblings, or neighbors. This shift in focus makes the series the most different from Answer Me 1997, which was all about hot-blooded youth and coming of age at a specific time (also, my time, which probably explains my extra love for it). 1988, in contrast, is about the warmth of a community that shares its burdens and its joys with one another, and how they come to form one large family. (And of course 1994 is a mix of both, by bringing a group of outsiders together under one roof as they transition into adulthood.)

1988 is less about growing up in the eighties and more about growing up on one street, though the nostalgia is in the fact that communities like that just don’t exist anymore (if they do where you live, lucky you). At the center of that is the truly enviable friendship between three ajummas, who trust each other with their hardships and share what little they have. And in a dramaland where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to meet anyone in the middle class, it’s always refreshing to get a slice of the normal pie. I love how true to life and homey the depiction of everyday life is on this street: The moms share food as an extension of their love, and their warmth quite literally gets passed down to the next generation. Proximity is all it takes, but that’s often all it really takes for lifelong friendships to form in real life. I don’t love that we always return to the requisite love triangle crutch (because husband-hunting is apparently the cross this franchise has chosen to die on), but I do appreciate that the community as a whole is what this drama is really about.

And because of that, it’s the most heartwarming of all the Answer Me series, drawing genuine emotion and frequent tears, not from tragedy or melodrama, but from simple, down-to-earth, honest-to-goodness good people who show their love in tiny gestures that mean the world. In fact, it’s the least funny of all the Answer Me shows, and the least developed romantically. But in light of 1994’s hyper-focus on the love triangle and husband mystery to excess, it’s a welcome change in my book. It’s a show that’s familiar, but is no less impressive for what it achieves. It moves me week to week with its small but relatable stories, makes me grateful for what I have, and appreciative of the things my parents’ generation sacrificed. I’m pretty sure Show’s getting a Christmas card from my mother this year.

 

Awl in 5: And the fight goes on…

I really wish Awl had come around at a different time of year, because I would’ve enjoyed recapping it if it didn’t have to contend with Answer Me 1988 for my time. Because I ended up really loving the webtoon adaptation, about workers at a supermarket who mobilize a labor union and fight for their rights as employees. The premise sounds dry, but the execution is really what makes it stand out. It’s rather brilliantly directed to look like a comic book come to life, and for a drama where the setting is so everyday, it’s fascinating how the visuals can be so dynamic, with sharp, exaggerated angles, tension created wholly through the way a conversation is shot and edited, down to animated sequences to illustrate metaphors. It’s quirky and unexpected, but there’s a beauty to the direction in Awl that makes the whole drama feel assured and the visuals an active part of the storytelling.

It’s a short series at 12 episodes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an easy watch. The topic is heavy, and the realism is so real you almost want to run away for a while and watch a rom-com, just to feel better about the state of the world. You tell yourself that surely there aren’t companies this terrible in the real world who treat their employees this badly, even though you know this to be true (I mean, it’s actually based on real events). But it’s the kind of story you feel needs to be told, and for that it’s a breath of fresh air in a drama landscape filled with rags-to-riches fantasy tales.

There are things holding it back from being really amazing though, and that’s namely in the writing. The world is filled with really rich characters and a conflict that you can easily get behind (who’s not going to root for the little guy to fight The Man?), but those are benefits of the original source material. The episodic writing didn’t quite match the same quality, because the pace was bogged down by long-winded sequences and an overarching story that moved like molasses in the dead of winter. It builds, and builds, and builds, and builds, and I just wanted to get to the freaking strike already instead of talking about it all the time.

But honestly I stayed because the characterization was so engaging. At every step of the way, everyone got relatable backstories that informed who they were, bolstered by some fantastic acting by Ji Hyun-woo and Ahn Nae-sang and a great ensemble of supporting players. Even the villainous middle manager is made human. My favorite aspect of the show was actually the humor, which sounds a little out of place in an earnest story about workers fighting for their jobs, but the show had this wry, deadpan humor that was pitch-perfect against Ji Hyun-woo’s humorless hero, who only ever says what he means and means what he says, and has never encountered sarcasm before.

Ji Hyun-woo and Ahn Nae-sang played two of the most interesting characters I’ve come across in a long time, each so differently idealistic and noble, and beautifully flawed. The show paints these men as people who can’t help but fight the system, like it’s an affliction that they can’t escape. You start to see how it truly wears them down to carry this burden and fight for others, but also how they’re just not built to be any other way. Awl depicts their story as only one battle among many that workers will face time and again, but it makes you feel just a little bit better knowing that people like them are out there, carrying on and fighting the good fight for all of us.

 

Twenty Again in 5: Dimples dimples dimples dimples dimples

Er, was that not what the drama was about? I dunno, I kind of think it was. Okay, so Twenty Again was probably more than the sum of Lee Sang-yoon’s dimples. Probably. It’s actually a show that isn’t a standout for any one thing, and yet because it was consistently satisfying and delivered just exactly what it promised, it was one of the most entertaining and solid feel-good shows of my drama-watching year.

I think that’s mostly due to the fact that it had a great friends-to-lovers romance, the kind that wasn’t aggravating due to someone holding out on their feelings for decades. The obstacles for this couple were very real and practical—she’s married, and he has no idea about her impending divorce—giving us a nice setup for comical miscommunication and a chance for feelings to develop very naturally out of a platonic friendship. The romance was a bit juvenile, but then, so were the characters, and that was the fun of it. I had such a good time watching these two characters get all their wires crossed in hilarious ways, and thought how rare it was for misunderstandings not to drive me absolutely batty in a drama. But when they’re written for the sake of heartwarming comedy and not as an easy narrative crutch to drive angst, the result can be so pleasantly entertaining.

In some respects, I found the heroine frustrating for not having taken charge of her life before, but there’s a very real satisfaction in watching her grow—bolder, confident, and self-sufficient, where she was once meek and submissive. I don’t know if it was all Choi Ji-woo (playing to her naturally cute rom-com strengths for once), but I came to be very protective of her character and desperately needed her to live a happy, fulfilling life filled with friends and love and dancing.

I do lament that the story took some missteps (in an attempt to be realistic, I think, which confuses me since the whole drama is total wish-fulfillment) in having the heroine give up her original dreams of dance and college. I wanted that youthful idealism to carry through to the end, screw practicality, and was disappointed that she didn’t follow through on those early goals. I often got angry at the hero too, for assuming that he always knew best, but I found it difficult to stay mad at him for any length of time when he was so selfless about the way he showed his love, and was always the one reminding her of just how awesome she was at eighteen, and could be now.

Overall they’re minor complaints in a show that carried a great balance of comedy and drama, had a well-written female character at its core, and made me envious that I hadn’t run into a cranky manchild who may have secretly been in love with me for twenty years and was just too dorky to show it… yet.

 

Angry Mom in 5: Mom brings home a puppy

I can really only describe Angry Mom as a lovable mess. It was at times riotously funny and other times frighteningly dark, and was somehow a mistaken identity farce, a conspiracy plot, a youth drama, and a mystery thriller all at once, and none of those things quite perfectly at that. But Kim Hee-sun’s titular angry mom is my favorite heroine of 2015, so I couldn’t leave this show off the list. Sadly it was another drama year where complex and interesting male characters outnumbered the female ones, but Angry Mom stood out as a show with more than one(!) strong, heroic woman driving the action and the story. She was nothing short of badass, as the ajumma who dons a high school uniform to save her daughter and ends up saving everyone.

It was also the drama that satisfied the fish-out-of-water hijinks that a show like Twenty Again never fully achieved (maybe the conflict is just inherently better in high school than in college), and the secret identity aspect provided both comic fodder and bigger dramatic stakes. It didn’t even matter how unrealistic it was for people to think that Kim Hee-sun could pass for a high school student (she’s inhumanly beautiful, but she doesn’t look eighteen), because that was part of the comedy too. I loved everything about how charismatic and strong her character was, and how people naturally followed her lead in any situation and came to love and respect her, school bullies and angry teenage daughters alike.

Besides featuring my favorite heroine of the year, Angry Mom also had my favorite unrequited puppy love, in a litter full of strong contenders. Rookie actor Ji-soo had quite the breakout year in 2015, and he owes it to this character—a bad boy straight out of a teen romance comic, who becomes a pile of mushy goo when he falls for the ajumma-in-disguise. It’s a nice change of pace to get a drama where there’s no central romantic loveline—the mother-daughter love takes the place of that—but we still get a sweet second lead anyway, who ends up with all of the fan love. And as we’ve seen time and again in dramaland, not getting the girl in the end can be the best thing ever for a budding career. It says a lot that in a show that wasn’t about romance, his one-sided love for the awesome ajumma is what stays with me and still puts a smile on my face.

I wish that the execution of Angry Mom had maintained a higher level of quality, because it lacked a cohesive style or tone, and had wonky music cues that kept yanking me out of scenes. They really piled on the extreme circumstances too, where bad things just kept happening to good people, you had as many horrifying villains as any cop procedural, and got a picture of corruption that’s far darker than its premise requires. But as excessive as all that was, it also added a gravity to Mom’s fight for justice that made the conflict richer, and without that, Angry Mom wouldn’t have felt nearly as uplifting or triumphant when the ajumma brought corrupt officials to their knees. It’s a drama that’s not quite as good as you want it to be as a whole, but the characters—from princess gangsters to fraidy-cat teachers—leave an undeniable impression on you long after we’ve forgotten why Mom got angry in the first place.

 

Who Are You—School 2015 in 5: Young love and bad math

Of all the shows this year, Who Are You—School 2015 definitely made me the ragiest. There were certainly worse shows, or shows I didn’t care as much about; but this one got me addicted, made me care, and then it failed to deliver the closure I wanted for my characters. I was hooked right away on the melodrama-meets-youth-drama premise, about an amnesiac twin who unwittingly takes over her sister’s life. It was beautifully produced and had this crack-factor built into the mistaken identity mystery, doled out in cliffhangers that always left me twitching for the next episode.

But then the drama continued down this trajectory that really confused me. Because you had two twin sisters, a boy who loved one, and a boy who loved the other, and instead of very naturally and easily pairing them off so that everyone was happy, they made the one pairing that ensured that half of them would be alone. It was almost perverse, like the writer just couldn’t take the easy way out and simply refused to give it to us, because… I don’t know… we can’t have nice things?

I think the main problem is really Twin Unni’s lack of development as a fully formed character. She’s an easy plot device, and a great source of mystery to keep us guessing. I know I was dying to find out what she was about. But it’s sad to say that I think that’s all she was—a device meant to give her twin sister a new life—and she was never a part of the equation in a real way. It’s really too bad, because what I had been wanting all series long was for the heroine to gain a sister, not her sister’s life.

What this show really had going for it was a sizzling enemy rivalry between the heroine and a mean girl so vicious she made my blood curdle. And it was due to the gripping performances by young actresses Kim So-hyun and Jo Soo-hyang that I was always riveted, invested, and a little scared. But then the villain didn’t get the resolution I wanted either, which just adds to the growing pile of things this show started well and then just dropped the ball on. Was it just not able to handle the melodramatic stakes it set itself up for? Then why go there at all?

It’s unfortunate that it’s hard to remember the good things (Yook Sung-jae) without the bad things (Yook Sung-jae’s broken heart), or that drawing out the love triangle’s angst took the place of developing the relationship we were supposed to root for. As it was, I finished out the show seriously questioning the heroine’s judgment. Why wouldn’t you pick the guy who saw you for your true self and loved you for being you? Just… why? There are scores of heroines who make all sorts of ill-advised decisions in dramaland, but this one vexes me to this day. And I just don’t think I have it in me to let it go.

 

~

How was 2015 for you? Did you discover your new favorite of all time, uncover some underappreciated gems, or have more drama regrets than you’d care to admit? I was seriously impressed at the number of beans people had earned (are some of you secret chaebols, I wonder?) and was inspired to up my game in 2016.

We’ve got many more reviews on the way—minion keyboards are clicking away in a mad dash as we speak—so stay tuned for more year-end goodies all month long!

As always, thanks for making drama fandom the best fandom to be a part of, year after year.

 
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Hehe, I see what you did there, girlfriday. Only allowed to write about 5 dramas, so start by writing about 2 dramas that you're NOT going to write about, just so you can write about them. Nice work ;) Thanks for all your hard work reviewing and recapping this year.

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Lol, I caught that too ;) Both her and Javabeans!

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Hehe I caught that too - Healer and Oh My Ghostess FTW! :D

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You all beat me to it. Next year I'll have to get up earlier :)

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I must be amongst the few people who did not find Twenty Again great. In fact, I didn't even like it. It was so boring and repetitive. An even more unpopular opinion is that Choi Ji-woo didn't wow me. The performance felt somewhat lackluster and she just made her character feel kinda dreadful. Even when she's smiling it like she's faking it and hiding her painssss or something. Right till the end I never connected with the acting. Ugh, I have no idea how I finished that drama when I kept asking myself why I watch it at all.

I loved School 2015 - ending included. It was my crack this year because it had an insane amount of loopholes and WTF scenarios and yet I just lapped it all up. Some fun writing and Kim So-hyun is love. She's such a star and I can't wait to see her grow up and headline her own romances and fairytales.

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I think she’s (Choi Jiwoo's character) really cute & kick-ass in Twenty Again. But ultimately, I stopped watching Twenty Again even though I liked it. I think it was because of my finals, so I stopped watching it for awhile. And after my finals, I just didn’t have the motivation to continue watching the drama. T.T

AND YESSS! High 5! School 2015 is also on my list despite the crappy ending. (MOSTLY, WHO THE HELL WOULD PICK HAN YIAN OVER THE BESTEST GONG TAEKWANG), the villain didn’t get the punishment she deserved, the unni is just a mere plot device, it’s a drama that I had to finish it in one shot once I started because of the “crack factor”. I was addicted. LOL.

Overall, I’m just gonna “forget” about how Kim Sohyun’s character picked Han Yi-an over Gong Tae-kwang, and just remininsce over all the CUTENESS AND SQUEEE!!! Also, that psychopath killer girl….. she actually made me feel worried for my own safety while watching the drama… that’s good acting… LOL

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The ending was okay for me too. I think it was the "Twin Unni’s lack of development" as Girlfriday said, more than anything that disappointed me.

The twin didn't have to be in the same scene to bond. Just don't ship one off aboard and make the other take over the former life. Okay with having the same best friends but not with going back to the same school. She could have been stronger and still her own self.

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I'm with you on Twenty Again, Mandy. I also felt the drama wasn't all that. It was good, but nothing outstanding. I didn't quite "feel" Choi Ji Woo's acting...some of her expressions seemed too unreal for me and I was surprised by how bad she was despite being such a veteran in the industry.

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I share the same sentiment with Twenty again, because for me it's all payoff story from the past that doesn't really explain much as threat to anything.

Every thing is rainbow cause it all already happen and what we see is her story to pick the fruit for her decision, but then I think it's too much a convenient that she always gets help that justify by the length of her suffering years.

I didn't finish it and Lee Sang Yoon is sure damn handsome but I can't relate to the story at all, it actually make more sense if they are being friend and he helps her purely because they knew each other

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in did't finish it, I stop at ep 15 and didn't really pay attention in middle episode, I watch but not purely dedicated, it play in my roommate list watch

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Agreed. I could not make it past the third episode of Twenty Again. Idk what it was I just thought it was way too slow, never captured my attention

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Kearney you, Mandy. I struggled through 3 episodes before I just gave up.

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It should have read 'I hear you, Mandy'. Damned auto-correct!

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I thought I was the only one! Because it seems like everyone here love 20 Again.

It's not that the drama was bad, it just feels like a Makjang hidden behind a romcom surface; what with misunderstandings that span through few episodes, or male lead with jerk-ish attitude, or the noble idiocy plot.

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I couldn't get past the first two episodes of Twenty Again. It was all the hitting being doled out. To me, it was a good indication the hitting would continue throughout the series and I just thought…meh.
There's lots of sisterly hitting in Answer Me 1988 but somehow that works as sibling fights.
I love Answer Me 1988 SO MUCH. It's giving me the same marvelous feels that Misaeng gave me. Just lovely.

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I'm totally with you! I also find Twenty Again boring and repetitive. I've watched it until episode 10 and I find it hard to continue watching it until the last episode.

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I'm glad I am not the only one who disliked Twenty Again. It had its good points but overall it was lacking. I was just telling my sis that it is not a drama I would recommend nor would I watch again.

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All but one of the drama's are about youth, or the nostalgia of youth, a running theme for GF? Loving these year end reviews, even if I am not loving that its year end, where did 2015 go!!

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Your words on Answer Me 1988 explain how I feel about it flawlessly. It's really surprising me with how special it's becoming to me. I also connect more with the 1997 time-frame (and love that drama and its characters to bits), but there's something about the community on that street in 88' that just gets me. It's the environment I'm pretty sure everyone has dreamed of growing up in and it creates this kind of nostalgia thats accessible to anyone, even those who weren't alive at that time.

I also had high hopes for School 2015 and I'm still grateful towards it for certain things, even though it ultimately aggravated me to no end. I also enjoyed watching Angry Mom, even though it hasn't stuck with me the most since its ending.

Twenty Again and Awl were some of my most satisfying watches of the year so I'm very glad to see them discussed. I admit that I think I was fonder of Twenty Again while it was airing, while Awl is the drama that is sticking with me more than I expected. Although, this just finished so we'll see how it holds up after a few weeks.

Thanks for your wonderful reviews, GF.

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I feel the same toward Answer Me 1988. I wish the writers and PDs could remake several disappointing shows.

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I loved Twenty Again. It was slow but it was different, cute, and satisfying. I haven't watched Awl yet but will be checking it out now that you all are saying it's good. Plus it has Yesung in it :)

Btw, are you a Friends fan? Is that why the username is Chandler? :)

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Yesung gives a fantastic performance in Awl. I'm very impressed with him and hope to see him in more dramas soon :)

Haha, it's actually my name. I started out using a username on this site, but kept accidentally posting with my real name because of auto-fill. Now a few people know me as Chandler so I just decided to keep posting that way. But I'm also a fan of Friends :) Though I'm not named after it (and I'm a girl lol).

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Hi @Chandler! I'm with you 100% on Answer Me 1988. I'm madly in love with it.

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Oh My Venus just catapulted itself at the top of this year's list for me. Usually I don't give a final verdict before the last (dreaded) episode, but as it IIRC will finish first week of January it won't make the cut for 2016, so I had to compromise.
By doing this I had to kick Oh My Ghostess off this list.

My other four are (in no particular order) Valid Love (totally underrated, great food for thought), My Beautiful Bride (that was a hell of a ride), Answer Me 1988 (who cares who's going to be the husband, I want to live in this street) und last but not least Heard It Through The Grapevine (not as perfect as its predecessor Secret Love Affair, but so well acted and written).

Honorable mention to Oh My Ghostess, Healer, Beloved Eun Dong and The Producers.

Have yet to watch Awl as well as Six Flying Dragons and to finish Punch.These three need special attention.

Here's to 2016 and more entertaining Kdrama!

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Valid Love, so well acted, dark and interesting.
Underated for sure, but expected for such mature melodrama.

Angry carpenter FOR THE WIN!.

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Oh yay, a Beloved Eun Dong mention (even if it's just an Honourable mention :-P). I loved it but don't see much about it online. It was totally beautiful and, okay, really aggravating sometimes, but still had me waiting impatiently for the next episode each week.

I'm really enjoying Oh My Venus as well, but I don't include dramas that haven't finished yet because that leaves more room in my list for other shows, lol. So when i write my Year End review, I'll do what GF did and mention those ones in the first paragraph, but then leave my Top 10 for the shows that aired and finished this year.

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All i remembered about 20 Again is,....

LEE SANG YOON

and

his sexy dimples...
^_^

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Unfortunately haven't watched 2 of the dramas above, but I wholeheartedly agree with the other 3. 2015 was a pleasant year and the whole heroism on Angry Mom (which I happened to binge watch last, I just finished it) gave it a good seal.

Loving this concept of 5 dramas only more and more as I read about the angst you guys go through hahaha. Thank you Dramabeans!

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Glad Awl is mentioned. It was frustrating watch but Ahn Nae-sang was amazing (Award worthy - too bad no one seem to mention). BTW did they get paid now? Too bad they didn't get ratings/rave they hoped to get (like Miseang. For that I think the show was way too depressing, in addition to touchy subject/union).

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If only KBS decided to titled sassy gogo as "School 2015 part 2 : Cheer Up!" maybe the franchise could be a little cheered up

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Hahahah very true. It would have been so great for the franchise if sassy go go was part of it. School 2015 was just ugh, a big no no.

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Sassy go go definitely a school theme drama with the core of school problem : grades

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I really liked School 2015 because of Kim So Hyun and Sungjae's acting, but I agree with you. When I watched Sassy Go Go I was like wow because it's incredibly well done if you consider that they had only 12 episodes to tell several stories. So many positive aspects that I could spend a long time talking about them.

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I loved Schoold 2015 and Sassy Go Go. I liked School 2015 because of Sungjae and Kim Sohyun's acting. They were really fantastic. As for Sassy Go Go, I love everything about it. The actors acted so well, the love story is just about the right amount, and the stories they tackled did not go overboard.

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HAHAHA I've wondered the same thing too GF, how can the beanies watch 30+ dramas when I've only watched a few. Secret chaebols are here ????

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I have an even better idea. They either have a brain in the shape of a foetus lying around or candles that can take them back in time. So, they watch it in the past, come back to the present to choose something else to watch and then go back to the past to watch it again. Do that nine times and see how many dramas you'd cover. Rofl

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There are only 2 possibilities: they are secret chaebols or they just very much prefer watching over rest! Haha

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I related more with the dramas GF has reviewed, more than JB’s. Maybe cause I’ve watched most of the dramas that GF has mentioned.

School 2015 will always be one of the most memorable drama for me, personally. Even though the ending sucked (MOSTLY, WHO THE HELL WOULD PICK HAN YIAN OVER THE BESTEST GONG TAEKWANG), the villain didn’t get the punishment she deserved, the unni is just a mere plot device, it’s a drama that I had to finish it in one shot once I started.

Overall, I’m just gonna “forget” about how Kim Sohyun’s character picked Han Yi-an over Gong Tae-kwang, and just remininsce over all the CUTENESS AND SQUEEE!!!
Also, am I the only one that didn’t actually like healer that much as compared to everyone on dramabeans? O=

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So far, I’ve actually only watched 11 dramas completely that aired in 2015? (With the currently airing Reply 1988 as my 12th drama, and I dropped a few halfway) And if I had to pick 5 --- It’d be Kill Me Heal Me, Yong-pal & School 2015. I can’t of any 2 dramas from my list to put it in the top 5 even though I loved it. (Oh My Ghostess, Sassy Go Go – I loved this 2 dramas a lot but it isn’t a drama with that much impact)

But dramas that had crappy endings, but really really good start, or like the first 10~12 episodes like Yong-pal and School 2015 (I love Gong Tae-kwang, 5 eva!) will always remain fond in my memories despite the final outcome. I didn’t watch Yong-pal while it was airing, but I finished the first 16 episodes in about, what? 3 days? I loved Joo Won’s performance as that super competent doctor that’d do anything for money, but at the same time his ultimate goal is to save lives. And the chemistry Joo Won and Kim Taehee had at the start, where the Sleeping Beauty only had Joo Won in the room she was locked up. Those are my favourite moments. Episode 9 became boring, but they caught the pace up again at around episode 11-ish? Then THE EXTENDED LAST 2 EPISODES ARE JUST HLKSDGHALKGSHDKLHKLDHSGKL. So stupid omg.

I’m not gonna elaborate too much on KHMH, but Ji Sung is FANTASTIC! He played 7 characters so well, and a grown a*s man could make me believe he was a teenage girl. SOMEONE, GIVE HIM A DAESANG! All these award shows are robbing the win from him T__T

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I'm the opposite. I watched 4 dramas froom JB's review (Healer, WAC, KMHM, Producers and a bit Yongpal but I didn't finish it). From GF's review, I only watch 2, Angry Mom and Twenty Again.

It seems to me GF is like a fervor fangirl like us, writing every show she likes/dislikes and it shows in her writing. While JB is more analytical in her writing, like drama critics would be. Just my observation. But I love both styles, so I have no problem.

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I'm giving Healer the honor as my most favorite drama LAST YEAR, so that I could put Answer Me 1988 in the same spot for THIS YEAR :-D I realized that I don't really care about how it will end. All I want is that everyone will be happy in the end, and I'm pretty optimistic that the drama will do exactly that.

I also loved 2 others in your list, girlfriday, Twenty Again and School 2015. Haven't watched the other two.

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You should give Angry Mom a try. Kim Hee-sun is way too awesome, and BOK-DONGIE (Ji-soo) is the ultimate puppy everybody needs in their life. SO SO SO SO CUTE

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Angry Mom started with a bang, with the funeral of the dead girl (classmate of AM's daughter).
that OST was very haunting.
AM brought up issues that are very real, while i don't identify with pretty KHS dressing 'down' in mini skirt school uniform un-convincing as high-schooler.
but those issues brought up are like those in Who are You.... corrupted school system, spoilt rich brad, courage friends betrayal, school bullies, expensive tuitions, elite group... all these are real life issues.
AM's ost is one of the best this year.

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Pastmidnite well you really need to watch my beautiful bride ,it's aaaamzinggggg..

And for the best drama well I gave my ❤️

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@Sumee
Agree with you on MBB! ^^

@pastmidnite
You should watch Agree Mom already. :)

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@HS
Angry Mom is already in my bucket list. My very long bucket list! :-D
Thanks for the rec!

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Be prepared for some dark dark sh*t in the drama though. This drama really dwelve into the darkest of the darkest paths.

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Yeah it starts out with some real over the top comedy and turns into an allegory about the Sewol ferry (about the kind of corporate greed-driven negligence that gets people killed) with a side of heavy bullying thrown in for good measure.

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LOL well thanks for the warning then, I'll keep that in mind before jumping in.

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This is def. true, but the whole thing is also a pleasure to watch, not only because of Bok Dongie, but also the greatest Life Goals friendship ever.

For me, this drama had some of the strongest/most interesting/complex characters of the year. It had a mustache-twirling villain for sure, but most of the other characters were neither fully good nor evil, and you could see where characters went awry in their lives.

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One of the best thing about Angry Mom was really their characters and their relationships. The power of mums really do shine greatly in this one. I get the hype about Bok Dong cause who wouldn't luvvv that boy; but I thought all of their characters were written pretty nicely. It's just that they spent quite a lot of time with Bok Dongie's development.

Of course, like you said there are the big bads with no sign of humanity in them - but there are those people who are just borderline and could cross over to evil or good at anytime. It's nice to see in the world of the baddies there are still humans. Especially for the adult ones; like Kim Hee Won and Oh Yoon Ah's characters. Granted, their conscience alone did not stop evil; but seeing them struggle to make the wrong choices felt so real because so many people in this world want to do the right thing but are often already so broken and battered that they feel they don't have the right to do so. Our little Bokdongie could have easily lead that guilty life if a certain ahjumma hadn't taken her time to stop him. Friends our age can be a good influence for teenagers, but this drama showed that having an adult who really understands more guide you can be just that much more efficient.

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THANKYOU GIRLFRIDAY FOR WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT SCHOOL 2015.
The writers can't do math.
Han yi an is a... you know...that bad word.
Eunbi's eyes are blind.
Taekwang is the ultimate boyf goal.

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Awl looked so good but neither Viki or DramaFever picked it up so... bah.

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Yeah, I did plan on watching it. But when those two premier sites didn't carry it, I couldn't be bothered sourcing the drama from a lesser known subbing site. I put it down to apathy caused by too many choices...

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It's on gooddrama and dramacool.

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- HEALER
- Angry Mom
- Twenty Again
- Sassy Go Go
- The Producers
Haven't watched Reply 1988 yet - waiting for it to finish so tha t i can stream away to glory!

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Of all the dramas GF reviewed in this article, I only watched Who Are You - School 2015. And that one was marathoned months after it was over! Oh dear! I guess most of these dramas didn't catch my attention this year! smh.

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The 1.5 hr long episode for am1988 is a double edged sword. Depending on how the time is utilized, we can spend a good amount of time developing characters that make us care. Or scenes can be stretched out thin. This is truly an ensemble drama for me. The main leads share just as much screen time as their parents. This drama truly explores all human relationships that was not completely present in 94 or 97. This not only makes the story good, but almost every character gets a chance to shine. Great on the writer for being able to write such a cohesive story and bring everyone together. I spazzed more for 94 because I had a soft spot for trash and na jung, and the friendships got an upgrade from 97. 97 was still superior story wise though cause it was short, original, and no focus on husband hunt. But 88 kinda tops it for me 'cause of what is brought to the table, even if the romance is not at the forefront and the scenes can get long. I thought the series would get old and lose its magic by the third installment, but this is a case where the writer has reached a mastery level with her storytelling.

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'88 truly has magic

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1997 had a little over one-third of the screen time that 1994/1988 are getting, so considering that, I thought it did a great job with letting its supporting cast shine. I mean, the entire show added up to less than 12 hours!

1988 actually works BECAUSE the romance isn't at the forefront of things - it stops the who's-the-husband question from getting too annoying, and lets us feel for other characters too. I especially appreciate the time we spend with the parents here, I'm probably more invested in their happiness than their children's (I want Sun-woo's mom to be happy, more than anything).

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Hmm the five memorable dramas of 2015 for me would have to be:


I Remember You
Oh My Ghostess
Healer
Twenty
School 2015

Others: Angry Mom, The Village: Achiara's Secret, KMHM, Oh My Venus.

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I would have to watch 1988 to see why everyone loves it so much :)

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i havent watched Reply 1988 (unlike the previous 2 that I watched while being aired) but I plan to do so next year. Reply has always been good with their stories. They pick actors who surprisingly does so well.

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Oh and Sassy Go Go!, actually replace School above with Sassy....:P

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Yeah where were you thinking Bongsookie?? SASSY is one of the best school dramas, School 2015 is definitely not one of them.
I can't wait for the recaps reviews of IRY and Sassy!

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I'm still waiting patiently for the next round of new header additions to see if jb and gf choose one of Omomo's Sassy Go Go headers :)

and yeah, School 2015 is not fit to be mentioned in the same breath as Sassy. Even leaving out the love triangle, it was full of sloppy writing and plot holes that unravelled the whole second half.

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Yasssss I can't wait to read about IRY too, it's too bad I didn't watch it live, and of course our beloved SGG!! ♥♥♥♥♥

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Boongsookie! Hi there...
Oh please do try Answer Me 1988! My list is similar as yours, so I think you'll like 1988 as much as I do :-)

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Yes, Boongsookie and pastmidnite! Answer Me 1988 is a true gem…and I love the longer episodes. They really let us luxuriate in the stories and the characters. You end up loving every one of them.

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for me: top 3 choices:
Healer
Healer
Healer.
(if i can repeat choices)

else, it will be:
Healer
I Remember you
Twenty (but now gonna be replaced by Remember War of the Son.)

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Yay! So glad Angry Mom got an honorable mention! That show was my definitely my crack drama. I didn't expect all the darkness, but man, it was one hell of a good ride. I'm still not over puppy Bok Dong's ahjumma love. ❤ I seriously cannot picture anybody else playing Kim Hee Sun's role, but herself. She kicked ass!

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IKR! I watched Angry Mom for the comedy it promised but was surprised at how dark the first episode was. It was awesome though and it became one of my top dramas of 2015

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I lost count on how many dramas I seen this year. I feel like I am familiar with every drama mentioned ? I did have some midway-dropped dramas which I can't bear to continue watching and just know the rest of the dramas through recaps.
I think I don't have any problem on deciding my top 5 in 2015. Sadly, some of my most enjoyable dramas this year suffer in ratings. I really really enjoy I Remember You and Sassy Go Go and Ex Girlfriend Club. I don't care how the rating goes as I enjoy everything happened in the drama. They give a good show to watch and rewacth.
My other favorite drama did good in ratings such as Kill Me Heal Me and The Producers. I don't know if they are highest on their time slot or not but I know they didn't suffer.

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I haven't finished "Reply 1988", it's just it didn't attract me on the 1st episode... But I'll give it a try again, maybe after watching "My Love Eundong".

From the above list, I only watched "school 2015"... I find it entertaining because of their "top notch" acting, and not too much with the plot, cause it's predictable.. It's a High School drama, so Im not expecting a romance, should be a wholesome story with a great moral lesson... The execution is nice, and that's what I love about KBS.... I think their forte is about school thing... and that's good....

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The five that stuck hardest?

Heard It Through the Grapevine - the combination of sly humour and utterly bleak cynicism makes this a standout even though it aired in the early months of the year. I loved its neo-sageuk approach to class warfare and the fact that it let even its "good" guys have actual character flaws. It'll take a long time to forget that narrowing 'peephole' that bounced around the last freeze-frame at the end of each episode :)

Sassy Go Go - seriously, THIS is the drama that deserved to be called School 2015, and despite its short run it's actually better than a lot of HG high school dramas - including the first Dream High (it helped that all four leads could act). The premise may sound rather low-key (how to navigate academic pressures, or how not to) but it feels real and not trivial. Probably because actual high school kids the world over are likely to worry about their studies and futures than about being chased by loan sharks or having rich boyfriends. And I loved the level of detail that went into the drama despite the live shoot (and, as with Grapevine, the OST was near-perfect).

Angry Mom - Bokdongie!!!!! But seriously, I liked that it mostly eliminated the idea of focusing on a central love line, and spent more time with other relationships. Kim Hee-sun absolutely killed it, I actually think this is the best performance of her entire career.

Answer Me 1988 - I think we all want girlfriends like the ajumma brigade in our own lives, and it says quite something that the biggest squee I've had in the whole drama is Sun-woo's mom realising just what the fortune-teller's prediction could have meant.

Warm & Cozy - this one stuck for all the wrong reasons. Like a bad smell, or crap stuck to your shoe. Half a year later, and I'm STILL mad at the Hong sisters for forcing Yoo Yeon-seok and Kang Sora to waste their time and talents on making their lazy non-story even slightly watchable.

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oh, and honorable mention to The Producers for IU's sake. The whole drama might not stick, but Cindy was certainly one of the more memorable characters of the year (I wish she'd been on the poll for Favourite Character, I'd have liked to give her my vote).

I also liked that both the female leads of Producers were the cranky ones while the male leads were the puppies. It's a nice reversal of the usual kdrama dynamic.

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Don't get me wrong, I loved Sassy Go Go and thought it to be one of the sweetest I've seen this year. Objectively thought, I don't think it matches the thrill and crack of School 2015. While School 2015's finish was unstable, it did have a solid set-up and a conflict that puts you on edge had it not been bugged down by the incessant love triangle. Sassy Go Go was honestly sloppily written--it built and built and built and built conflicts that it resolved rather too easily at the final hour. What made it shine was the performance by the leads-- Jung Eun-ji, Ji Soo, Lee Won-geun, and Cha Soo-bin (legit performance gamestrong)--which brought a kind of impact to each character. But writing- and story-wise? It was mediocre at best.

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School 2015 promised a lot at the start (twin disappearance, bullying victim vs her former aggressor, the identity crisis of pretending to be someone else) and delivered on NONE of it, or plain dropped the threads.

Note, I didn't even mention the love triangle up there - but I really don't see how Sassy Go Go, even with its weird premise (cheerleading for specs), was more sloppily written than a drama that lets a teacher get away with stalking a student like she was right to do it. We don't get any explanation for where Eun-byul went when Eun-bi was pretending to be her, either (it's not like teenagers can just rock up to orphanages and chill there for a month like it's a hotel), or even any kind of resolution to the central conflict i.e. the bullying storyline. I mean, literally everyone else in the story - boys, mom, unnie - stands up to the mean girl, everyone but the heroine that is.

What you said about Sassy Go Go is actually far more true for School 2015 - mediocre at best (in fact, even calling it mediocre would be overrating it) in terms of writing and story, but what makes it memorable is the performances of Kim So-hyun and Jo Soo-hyang. Without them, the entire thing would collapse like a badly made soufflé .

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Solid set up, yes. Solid execution? Not at all. It had a set up that attracts people. It was intriguing at first but then it did not deliver at all. Putting the terrible love triangle aside, none of the conflicts that they offered at the beginning had a satisfying resolution. They had such great potential, but it wasn't fully utilised - unlike SGG which didn't have much to start with nor go on about, but managed to show a solid drama that was sweet and beautiful.

For a high school drama, I don't see what's wrong about having simpler issues and conflicts that can be solved within an episode. In fact, it's a great thing to do with all the heavy dramas around us, isn't it great that a high school drama about the lifes of mere teenagers didn't actually have that much at stake and was about kids growing up; realising what really matters, discovering new things, forming new friendships? Yes, some of us may have went through extreme stuff even since young, but truth is at a young age like that things are more often than not simple. We make big deal out of the pettiest things. Grades is as real as an issue it can be for students. A drama like this shows how it all starts - showing the life of teenagers who can still be moulded is a wonderful thing. It's a rare and fresh thing to see especially how we get to see that at least at this age (17/18 or so), kids are in so many ways still imperfect and are in desperate need of the correct guidance from the adults. The adults in SGG were no less brilliant than the kids and they really showed impact to, from the terrible woman that calls herself a mother to the wonderful cheer instructor that successfully showed those kids the true meaning of teamwork.

As pogo mentioned up there, what you said about SGG is far more true for School 2015. Kim So Hyun and Jo Soo Hyang were outstanding and their chemistry kept me watching till the very end. But unfortunately, the whole show left me dry with barely any good things to remember about it. I agree that the stellar cast and their chemistry were obviously a plus. From Eunji, Lee Won Geun, Ji Soo, Chae Soo Bin to all their side characters; they delivered a solid performance and it could've easily went downhill if they hadn't done so (especially for a character like Kwon Soo Ah, put a mediocre actress there and the whole world could've cursed on her and never came back, but Chae Soo Bin was just stunning). However, SGG had so many chances to have fallen down the "typical" drama tropes, but each and every time, its writing did not fail and the story kept its heart and originality.

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Grades is as real as an issue it can be for students.

Thank you for this.

I feel like we tend to forget that because kdramas have conditioned us to think that as long as you're not being majorly bullied or hounded for your dad's debts and forced to live in a rooftop room/on the street, you don't really have problems.

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@pogo
That scene in Answer Me 1988 was one of my favorite scene! It was so perfectly executed, script-wise and acting-wise. Now I REALLY hope the fortune-teller's prediction comes true!

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I know, right?! It has to come true! I don't care who Deok-sun married (ok, we all know) but I want Sun-woo's mom not to have to live under such stress any more, and the addition to the family would be beyond perfect (Sun-woo feeding Taek just killed me)

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@pogo You're absolutely right. Heard It Through The Grapevine was something special to me too. The humour and the OST is what stuck to me and, of course, the acting. Marvellous characters. I feel like not many people like this sort of shows (have to have a certain kind of taste for humour for that I guess).

I would pick the aforementioned Grapevine, Answer Me 1988 (the community love gets to me), Healer, Exgf club and the on-going Six Flying Dragons - to be my five.

Thanks to Dragons I've realised that I must really like those 50 episode sageuk dramas (Enjoyed Empress Ki as well).

I've seen most of the shows Girlfriday has mentioned and I enjoyed those too. What else I have in common is my barometer for the shows - the more emoitions I get - the more points the show gets. Another requirement would be that I remember the show in the end of the year :D You know, it comes right to your mind when somebody asks you your favourite dramas of the year.. as I watch quite a lot of shows during the year.

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yeah, the tone of Grapevine is something I've never seen in a kdrama. It's got a feel that's more akin to a British show in some ways, especially on the subject of class.

My own criteria are the same as yours - did I feel anything, and is it memorable? I'm still mad at Lukewarm & Dozy even six months later, which is how it made it to the list. While Grapevine...... I laughed and laughed, but I could never watch an episode without a sense of genuine anxiety about how things were going to turn out - this wasn't a drama that let you rest easy, even for a second.

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don't even know what I was watching while I was watching "Lukewarm&Dozy" lol.

Grapevine.. yeah. I also liked that it wasn't your typical melodrama either (void of cancer and memory loss, you know) and still managed to make you anxious.

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I guessed 4 out of the 5 dramas you'd pick--the one I didn't guessed right was Awl because I thought you'd right about I Remember You.

I haven't seen Twenty Again and Angry Mom in its entirety, but I do plan to watch it since I have the full series downloaded in my laptop.

School 2015 -- I've made my peace with this show. If you're asking who the hell will pick Yi-an, I will. Because the closure to this show, I blame entirely on the writer. Maybe it's the writer in me that I saw a narrative potential, but I'm pretty sure Eun-bi choosing Yi-an would have been a clear choice had the writer built the resolution as rock-solid as the first episodes. I'm also disappointed because it did not turn out great when it's clear that on the outset, the show could have done great. Looking back, it was not a healthy love triangle--I never saw a great friendship developing on anyone (not even with the twins), the show lost potential in making Yi-an and Tae-kwang friends and invested more in pitting them against each other. It was a mess, but it was oddly one that sticks to me, and even though I want to hate it I couldn't. I also have no idea why.

Reply 1988 -- I didn't realize it was not as funny as the first two until you mentioned it, but I didn't think I'd have noticed it because every moment of the show feels great. There's a legit MAGIC to this show that keeps me wanting more. Every family interaction feels genuine, and I often wish that I had the chance to live in that kind of era where everyone is unconditionally supportive of one another. In a cynical world so bugged down by distrust, '88 was a breath of fresh air. I love that when the previews hint on a romantic development, the episode turns out to be a big warm ball of neighborhood fuzzies and awesomeness. There are only 8 episodes left. I'm honestly worried that it might go full swing on the love triangle, but I hope it doesn't. I want for the romance to develop without ruining other people because this community--this one big family--means so much to me. And I feel that the writer intends to keep it that way :)

Looking forward to more year-end reviews. Thanks, GF!

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Five memorable dramas of my year:
Pinocchio
Healer
I Remember You
She Was Pretty
Reply 1988

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UGH SCHOOL 2015... SO MANY AWESOME THINGS YOU COULD HAVE BEEN.. AND YOU FAILED! Like me in my Maths Final (but thats another story) Thank goodness I have Sassy GoGo to heal my high school angst heart. Ohhhhh Sassy GoGo, THE SO MANY AWESOME THINGS YOU WERE!! After School 2013, I really had my hopes up for 2015, but did they deliver? Nooooooooooooo, they didnt just dump my heart in the garbage, they incinerated it and then fed my ashes to maggots :'( (Once again, thank God for SGG for healing my achybreakyheart).

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Also, why do all my crack drama fail rating wise? Sassy GoGo, Healer (Honestly, my blood still boils about this. THIS WAS THE BEST SHOW OF THE YEAR! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, KOREA?), Ex Gf club (even got cancelled because TVN is an ass!)... GET YOUR LIFE KOREA.. And stop watching snoozefests like 'moon embracing the sun' or 'Baker king'

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School 2015 had one use, and that was to prove that Kim So-hyun, at 15 years old, is more than capable of carrying a drama as its female lead. But that sloppy story and lazy writing are exactly what I'd expect of an idol agency dabbling in drama production, no surprise there.

Out of the high school dramas of 2015, the only satisfactory ones were Angry Mom and Sassy Go Go. And they both had one thing in common (besides Ji-soo, I mean!) - they knew their stories and stuck to them, and that's what made an ajumma in high school and a cheerleading-for-specs club winners in the end.

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Hahaha I guess we all knew girlfriday was gonna write about reply 1988.
I agree tha school 2015 makes me rage too but for me Orange Marmalade was worse. It started out so well that I was so mad when the writers went insane.

Its interesting to see which shows the recappers are going to cover ?
Am guessing Saya or Lollypip will write about Sassy Go Go.

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Orange Marmalade was just.....such a waste of Yeo Jin-gu.

I get that it wanted to be ambitious and showcase vampirism as a metaphor for real-life outcasts and the prejudice against them, but it fell flat. Part of it was the heroine - I wish to god they'd got a less insipid actress for the role, and the chemistry just wasn't there even when she was sucking on his neck or straddling him in his dreams.

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I wish Yeo Jingoo would get a great character to play in an awesome story at that.. Because he so deserves that. Although he has a special place in my heart I really could not finish Marmelade :(

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The only useful thing that came out of watching Orange Marmalade was that I earned one more bean to give to a better show in the Bean Count post.

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Hahahahahaha pogo-go-goooooo, so true.
Thanks for the 'Bean Count' game, watching bad/disappointing shows isn't that useless/regretting anymore, though still a waste of time.

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first 2 episodes of Orange Marmalade were so good then it just went straight to crap

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Awl was one of my favorite dramas of the year, excellent acting. Still laugh thinking of Ahn Nae-Sang whistling oh so coolly thru the alley and then jumping out of his skin when a rat runs in front of him, haha.
No problem with NoRa dropping out of college; how many of us have the same wishes and goals at 40 that we do at 20, it's perfectly natural that she has changed her plans. She certainly shouldn't be looked down upon for that. Graduating college isn't the be all end all.
Because It's The First Time stuck with me surprisingly, and I loved the ending. Great slice of life.
Kids at home loved Hogu...and Scholar. We have to play them over and over.
Lastly, I loved Last, cast was wonderful. And My Beautiful Bride was good and I felt I was on a roller coaster. Even enjoyed Legendary Witch...the story was fun.

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Girlfriday I really liked what you wrote about school 2015

for me the series ended around ep 13 ..I did not care much about what happened after that ..the end

20 again was all about discovering mr dimples ..it's the first time I watched him in any thing ..

Well 2015 is all about those dimple love lee Sang yoon and now shin minah ..I ain't complaining

I have not seen any other drama in your list (well I really wanted to watch a few more )

Thank you fabulous GF

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How much do I love GF's 5 words for Twenty? Dimples ftw! :D
I still remember how you? & @TurkishRose were throwing virtual tomatoes at me just because I'm on team Eunbi-Yian LOL! I was satisfied with how School had ended except for Soyoung character. The girl was evil & did evil things but she was not punished? She should have been put in a mental institution at least.

I know you don't like Reply series but give 1998 a try. ^^

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Well the virtual tomatoes still are intact,I am not taking back those
Yes I was frustrated with school in so many ways ..grrrrrrr ?

Dimples are a really discovery this season

And I will try reply88 sometime ..you know me so well .its just the sheer length of the episodes that make me run away

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I read my posts and saw my mistakes, I wrote Agree Mom instead of Angry Mom above and here 1998 instead of Reply 1988! LOL My eyes must be rotten for me not to noticed. :D
You can use the ff button when you watch the drama. ;)

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I loved Angry Mom so much, especially Ji-soo's character. I've fallen behind on Answer Me 1988. The others I don't think I'll watch, at least not for a while.

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I'm a newbie in Kdramas having started this past March. But I know what I want when it comes to TV dramas. So over the top plots, adults that behave like juveniles, and logic that doesn't make sense are not worth my 16 hours. With that in mind, these are my favorite of 2015.

Healer -- chemistry is off the chain. No unnecessary angst. They just love each other.

Missing Noir M -- A drama about injustices that did do them well and made me care abou supporting charactera. Loved seeing the gritty side of South Korea, rather than the touristy side of it. And no love story, that's always a plus in Kdrama.

I Remember You -- Park Bo Geum, Seo In Geuk, and Choi Won Young. Put all three in a room, and sparks will fly. I do also like the theme of 'were you born a monster or were you made a monster'.

Answer Me 1988 -- Girlfriday perfectly summarized what I think of this show. The roller coaster of emotions I go through every. single. episode. is just unbelievable. Depending on its last 8 episodes, I will probably grade this the same as Answer Me 1997, that is A++

Six Flying Dragons -- I know it is not yet finished. But damn, this drama is for real. It's legit. I can't believe I am deep into the politics of this show. The production team is doing an extraordinary job. Directing, cinematography, writing, and acting. This drama has it all. This will probably be on my top 5 next year as well.

Nine months into my addiction, I avoid dramas that will make me throw my tablet into my TV. I am happy that I don't have patience to watch a drama full of ridiculousness.

With that, here's to 2016!!! May we all have a safe and happy holidays!!! Thank you Dramabeans for being my companion these past nine months. An addiction is best served well with a company.

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My thoughts are exactly the same as yours about each and every drama (besides Missing Noir, haven't seen that)! Except that I can totally watch a ridiculous character do ridiculous things in a kdrama if I kinda feel like it :D

As to what you said about Missing Noir, I started thinking how I am watching Cruel/Heartless City at the moment and wow. Why didn't I watch this in 2013??

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please try watching "White Christmas" it is fully subbed on viki.com

similar theme to "I remember you" in that it is about are monsters born or made but in a high school setting

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1: Last
2: Missing Noir M
3: Hwajeong
4: Oh, My Ghostess
5: Healer
I guess I just like real drama.

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I am still on ep 8 of Awl. Watching it slow. But I AM watching.
I really like the real-time feeling tempo and the sincerity in Ji Hyun Woo´s acting, and I really like the supermarket ajummas - isn´t one the best friend from Witch´s Romance?
I understand the supermarket setting a little better than an office too.

and Reply 1988 - never been obsessed over any Reply series and definitely not the husband hunt. I still don´t care about that. Instead show me the individual development of Taek, Dong-Ryong, Jung-Bong and Sun-Woos´ Mom, and yeah Deok Sun, I just want to see this girl not be so stuck on boys but give more leverage to her own self, and who she is and what she wants to become.
Suddenly they are even making Dong Ryongs Dad an interesting one - I had thought his parents were both rude and looked down on the commun ity.

I like that the show allows parents to have a life as well. they are not just someones´ parents. they are individuals. can we get some chaebols come and observe?

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One of the ahjumma in the supermarket was the shaman in OMG! The best friend from Witch's Romance was Ra Mi Ran who's now playing as Junghwan's mom in 88. :)

I like that the show allows parents to have a life as well. they are not just someones´ parents. they are individuals.
THIS.

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I straight love that actress (Witch's Romance ahjumma). Her little looks of disappointment or disfavor crack me up.

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88 would be perfect if it was airing for only an hour every episode. That could just be me but yeah, it's too long.

OMG! Thank you for including Awl! Not a lot of people watched it but it's a really good drama. It ignited so many emotions in me and made me re-evaluate my job. Surprisingly, more than the leads, the character that stuck to me was Kim Hee Won's. He's so bad that I want to just get rid of him every time I see him but the character has so many layers to it that I just can't completely hate on him. KHW has a way of doing that to the characters he play (check Angry Mom).

LOL. Twenty Again kinda felt like it was about dimples. /shot Feel good is a good description for this one. I found myself not thinking much while watching it; I just watch it. I guess I'm this kind of person coz more than the leads, my fave character was the ex-husband. lol. He's hilarious and annoying at the same time. I also enjoyed his interactions with the other teacher.

Angry Mom deserves a standing ovation. One of the few dramas that actually left me satisfied after I finished watching the last episode. Awesome lead, fleshed out villain (Kim Hee Won for the win!), and adorable + heartwarming supporting characters (Mommy Gongju and minions)! The ost of this drama can be borderline weird but the main song is one of the best this year. Ohhhh the feels. I remember tearing up as soon as it starts playing. However, this drama forever ruined Kim Tae Hoon for me. I can never trust the man anymore. lol.

I didn't watch School 2015 and I'm relieved I didn't. I don't think I can live with the what you beanies are going through. I'll save myself from that. No, thank you.

Thanks for this, girlfriday! I've seen 4 out of your 5 so I can totally relate. HAHA

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Oh School 2015, how I love to forget you. This was the first time I have experienced shipping wars in real time..oh my god can it get ugly quick. Lol I have no I idea how you all did it with Chilbongi... and Reply1988 has me a little afraid of it as well.. Oh and I can't forget about poor Bokdongi.. :)

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Thank you GF for your review. I only have 20 Again from your list. I still have to get into the Answer Me 1988 wagon. As in the previous ones in the series, i come onboard rather late on them. Maybe it is because of the investment required - time and memories. I did grow up on a similar street. there were 3 families and under 10 children. I will surely get onboard sometime. For me, i classify the drama based on the year it ends. Looking forward to 2016.

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"AM 1988" by far the best K-drama of the year, and might just very well bump of "Joseon X-Files" and "Coffee Prince" for best all-time K-drama on my list.

OMG and "The Producers" were flawed, but still enjoyable - both making my top 20 all-time list for best K-romcoms.

Really not much else that struck me as being noteworthy or interesting enough for me to watch.

Of GF's list - only one aside from AM 1988 that interests me is "Awl."

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My sister asked me one time what I was currently watching and it was so funny trying to summarize to her Angry Mom. I was like "Well, it's kind of a comedy about a mom who disguises herself as a high schooler but there is murder, rape, pedophilia, corruption and bullying involved." She just gave me this wtf look. lol

Although AM 1997 is one of my favorite dramas, Answer Me 1988 hold an even more special place in my heart because I was the same age as the kids back then and I lived in a similar neighborhood in Asia before moving to America. I really miss that sense of community where all the kids in the neighborhood just hanged out and everyone knew each other. Even the male and female kids ended up pairing up. lo The only thing I am not seeing in the drama is that not one of the neighbors has a grandma/grandpa living with them.

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yeah, Ssangmundong reminds me a lot of living with my grandparents as a little kid, they lived in a slightly similar area (blocks of flats on an estate) and the children were at either at each other's houses or out playing in front of the buildings all the time. It ended when I was seven and my grandfather retired and moved away, but I still remember it fondly.

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Honorable mentions for 2015 :

Healer (Tech savvy Sophisticated )
Reply 1988 (heart tugging family drama)
Six Flying dragons (Freedom to choose life)
Angry Mom ( Mom power awesomeness )
I remember you (family full of psycho's)
Oh, my Ghostess (enchantress)
Heal Me , kill Me (just fun nice acting thou)
ASSEMBLY (Butt kicking)
PUNCH (Smarty pants)
Falling for Innocence ( Awesome love story )
Producers (Struggle of drama land)

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What really turned me off about the latter part of School 2015 is that the better man did not get the girl. The drama clearly painted Tae Kwang as the better person. He had better chemistry with the female lead. He had better scenes. The actor even acted better. Plus, he needed more love than Yi Ahn. It was so bone-headed of the writer to go that route with the ending. You have two girls and two guys. A happily ever after for all involved was the easiest thing to do yet the writer fumbled the ball royally. Oh well, at least I got to appreciate Jo Soo Hyang's talent.

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you know, I can accept that the guy who was hired to play the main male lead must be the one who 'gets' the girl because it's kdrama convention or whatever.

What I couldn't deal with was the plot holes and never-addressed story issues all over the place in the second half, starting from Eun-byul's little 'I got stalked and spooked but now I chilled in some unknown place for a month and my long-lost twin is living my life so let me randomly declare that I need to leave the country (to be out of her way), to the bully never actually feeling any remorse over what she did and Eun-bi's weak 'you can be thankful I'm alive' speech, to the random and anticlimactic discovery of the Big Mystery that apparently made it ok for a teacher to stalk a student....so much sloppiness everywhere.

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I actually didn't want remorse from So Young. It was good enough for me that she did get her comeuppance. She was evil to the core and her having remorse might be good as a moral standpoint but to me, it would totally be uncharacteristic of her hence would seem insincere. I can accept most of the other stuff since the premise of the drama itself was kinda out there. Truthfully, I can barely remember the details of that drama. I do remember being disappointed at the how the mystery of the dead girl came about. For me, it felt anticlimactic when the mystery was finally revealed.

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Well, the male lead not necessarily MUST get the girl...
There are also several dramas where 2nd leads get the girls.
I must say I'm disappointed with the way they handled the romance. Because from ep 1, Han Yi Ahn loves Eun Byul for god's sake! And he loves her from childhood. How can he just have a change of heart and Eun Byul not mad to her twin?
Clearly, logic is not this writer's main forte.

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Thank you for this year end review, girlfriday! Had much fun reading it. Yeh, out of all the dramas I watched this year, School2015 still continues to make me mad.

Nice to see that you're all choosing to write about dramas made you feel different things too - it gives more variation, whilst avoiding repetition! Great new format guys - bring on the next review! x

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My favorite for the year seems to be Reply 1988. I don`t care for the husband hunt, but love the warm and fuzzy feeling of the show. Every week I cannot wait to be taken to the street, where everyone seems to be one big family.

Other two important dramas for me this year are Heard It Through The Grapevine and Twenty. As someone who is tired on the damsel in distress trope used in kdramas over and over again, these two shows were quite refreshing (especially ...Grapewine). I really think Korea needs more dramas dealing with things like teenage pregnancy, divorce, single parenthood in an entertaining and educating way. Both of the dramas were able to do so, without being too explicit about the social commentary.

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2015 brought me my NEW 2nd favorite drama of all time (originally held by King 2 Hearts)--I Remember You. So now the order is
Shut Up Flower Boy Band
I Remember You
King 2 Hearts
Kim Soo Hyun
Answer Me [Does It Matter What Year?]

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Thanks GF!! Another great and funny review!

I LOVE Angry Mom and Twenty Again! Yay for some strong and cheerful heroines! And both of them are moms. Yay for moms power!
Well, this year also have some great heroines in my book, beside Kang Ja/Bang Wool in Angry Mom and Ha No Ra in Twenty Again.
Here's top 5 greatest heroines of the year according to me:
1. Seo Bom (HITTG) - sassy daughter in-law
2. Byun Ji Sook (Mask) - witty, smart wife
3. Kim Hye Jin (SWP) - funny, kind and understanding
4. Na Bong Sun/Soon Ae (Oh My Ghost) - strong, hardworker
5. Kang Joo Eun (Oh My Venus) - smart, strong-willed, sassy lawyer

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????? Nicely done, Girlfriend. Loved your review about Dimples, Dimples, Dimples, Dimples, Dimples.

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Thanks GF, for the review!

I must say the new format is interesting, in that we get more dramas covered (I think?) but the downside is that the review can be a little short and the dramas that get a review could be because of DIMPLES or.... (haha!) instead of the quality of the drama itself (coz I yearn for and really look forward to each Recapper's review since they write so well!).

I was thinking..... We now have the format to review dramas of 2015, but can we also perhaps think of having reviews of the MOST "loved" "hated" "interesting" "memorable" "useless" "meaningless" "over-rated" etc CHARACTER of 2015 kdramaland? It would be really great to see how each recapper think of their MOST xxx characters of the year.

Please?
Maybe?
Please?

@poggo, Go Go! I like the way you analyzed the difference between School 2015 and Sassy Go Go! I, for one, am really impressed with the latter and wish that ratings were higher since it deserves every bit of love from viewers. The story has to be 1 of the most Stuck-With-Me dramas of the year.

I am a Healer fan, and I find the drama very addictive, sophisticated technologically (the gadgets), and the chemistry between OTP great. But if I compare this with KMHM, I have to say that the drama that stuck with me MOST in 2015 is KMHM, mostlly because of JiSung and his 7 characters. To date, I've never seen another kdrama that entertains and hit you at the gut so much like KMHM and JiSung's flawless acting. Perry Park! Yona! Shin Segi! These are sooooo unforgettable!

Oh My Ghostess was good too, but there are flaws in the story and certain parts I don't engage much. I enjoyed this mainly because of Park Bo Young and her cuteness but this drama is far from perfect, in my eyes (character development, storyline, cinematography etc.)

My top 3 dramas of the year (can't find 5):

1. Kill Me Heal Me
2. Sassy Go Go!
3. Angry Mom

Most over-rated Dramas:
1. Producers
2. She Was Pretty

Underdog:
Sassy Go Go!

Most unsatisfying Dramas (that I go WTF?):
1. Hyde, Jykell and I
2. School 2015
3. The Time That I Loved You

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I'm waiting for girlfriend drama review because I'm 100% sure she gonna write my favorite drama this year which is Reply 1988 and Angry Mom.
Reply 1988 is fastest become my favorite k-drama all the time. The show is still on-going but really it capture my heart and soul (lol). It so heartwarming and very true to life which it similar to my neighborhood (minus people here sometimes so busybody to mind other people business) and love love all the soundtrack in this show (im a old school tho).
Angry Mom is not perfect but it has own charm which is Kim Hee Sun as badass ahjumma and Bokdongie (well at least for me because who can't help puppy falling with this squeezy cutest wounded puppy ever). This show had some unrealistic moment (who the he'll believe Kim Hee Sun is 18yrs old and princess gang is so absurd and unreal lol) but what I love is the mother struggle to give everything for her child and protected them without thinking upcoming sequence.

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When School 2015 ended I actually kind of wish they redid it and kept the sister killed off. Just because if they were going to keep her alive, they should have made her comeback way more awesome. There was always something missing from her character. And the ending when they shipped her off anyway just pissed me off. Such a waste for such a crack driven show.

Thanks JB for the thoughts. Your taste in dramas are very similar to mine so I'm always thrilled to read your reviews and recaps!

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I loooved Angry Mom Sooo much and Jisoo is definitely the breakout star of the year!! I will be following this puppy's career for sure. XD

I'm catching up on the Answer Me series and hope to get to 1988 soon. ^^

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I'm happy for this format purely on selfish reason, glad not all of you good people write about healer. Not trying to be hipster but I didn't like healer as much as the majority here.
So yay selfish me~ :P

Of all above, I only finished Angry mom. Like it mainly because of mom & gangjoo r/ship and kim tae hun really bring on the ick factor so much, I'm kinda wary seeing him on Reply1988 tbh. Dropped school 2015 because it was crazy full of loopholes & WTF but I know some stay because of that craziness. I also dropped 20 again but I cant even remembered why. But as for now, I'm no hurry to pick it up again..ermm...

I actually shocked how much I love reply1988 tho, more than reply1997 tbh. I like how everyone shine and I agree with GF on communities like that just don’t exist anymore. I once grow up in close knit community like that, so I guess that what makes it relatable to me. Another factor it because of park bo gum, not gonna lie about that. After his performance in IRY, I'm looking frwd to his next drama & casting him in reply1988 makes me happy. Having said that, I'm sure hope that they write his plot better than chilbong. Seriously. I'm fine him not getting the girl but totally not fine if they wrote him the way they treated chilbong. I didnt like reply1994 that much solely because they focus so much oh the husband mystery but I sure eating a lot of popcorn while reading all the comments. Hopefully this time around, we wont ended up like that~

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