Another week, and the drama list just grows! We’ve got finales to put behind us and fresh premieres just around the corner, so let’s weigh in. Tell us what shows you’ve been cozying up with lately, and what made you go back to hit that rewind button, or grab that screenshot, or rant to the nearest friend on the internet. Sometimes it’s amazing what reading a comment you agree with can do, isn’t it? –girlfriday
Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo: I like the time skips in theory, but in execution it drives me nuts because all this time goes by and it doesn’t feel like the characters have lived through years’ worth of changes—it’s like they froze in time emotionally until the drama caught up to them. Mostly, they’ve just gotten new hairstyles, and not always for the better.
Drinking Solo: Aw, I love it when happy couples are giddy and in the first flush of love. But it was the three gosiwon friends being depressed together that warmed my heart as they bumbled through their heartaches in their silly, heartfelt way.
Shopping King Louis: This show is a happy pill. I just really don’t want anything about the missing brother to ruin the adorable, cheerful comic touch—things are going so well now that I really don’t want the mood to cloud. I’m hoping that that angst on the horizon will be temporary and swift, and we’ll be back to cutely sweet in no time.
1% of Anything: I’m really enjoying this shorter running time. You know how most rom-coms feel like 20 to 40 percent filler, and you sit through it just to get to the good coupley parts? Well, this drama skips the filler, so that despite having a paper-thin plot and being light on content, it flows by quickly and enjoyably with all of its focus on the couple and their developing relationship.
Fantastic: Last weekend’s episodes felt like the slowest thus far, and while they were necessary movements, I found it hard to sit through watching So-hye turn away from people she loved out of fear rather than finding comfort in them. But Park Shi-yeon’s storyline continues to supply welcome satisfaction, and I cheered when she decided to sue for divorce instead of negotiating with that family of vipers.
The K2: I do enjoy this show with its given setup, but once I’d heard of the suggestion to make Anna a child instead, I couldn’t help thinking I would have truly loved the show if: present-day Anna were the little girl in the flashbacks, longing for her father; if Song Yoon-ah’s character Yoo-jin were just a bit younger—mid-to-late thirties, to narrow the 14-year age gap between her and Ji Chang-wook, and to make her feel more like a hateful, powerful stepmother; if the main loveline were an angsty, thwarted attraction between Yoo-jin and K2; if K2 were driven to free little Anna from her prison and to make Yoo-jin see that she could have a better life if she chose happiness instead of ambition; and if, in the end, they decided they couldn’t compromise where they were headed and parted ways, with K2 walking off into the sunset and Yoo-jin choosing her throne of power and loneliness.
Damn, now I want to watch that show.
Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: My heart wants to be happier about this ending, but there’s this annoying little monkey dancing around in my brain that’s doing the dance of historical inaccuracy (which I didn’t even know I had, but it must’ve been passed down from generations of fathers who like their sageuk dry and factual), and I can’t help but be dissatisfied in the end. Damn monkey. Maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe my love had just waned a good deal in recent weeks. Did anybody else skim through the special broadcast after the finale and think, “Oh, you were so good when you were good… but that seems like a long time ago…” The finale just made me want to rewatch Splish Splash Love, so I did that, and it made me happy.
Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo: I can’t believe they bothered to separate the lovers and have them do this big reunion… only to direct it like that. Where was the buildup to the kiss? The tension? The subtext? If it was going to go down like that, what was even the point of keeping them apart? And for crying out loud, how come Lee Jun-ki can have his shirt off in his sickbed, but not in the bed scene?? I want my money back.
Drinking Solo: Aw, there was so much heartbreak in Noryangjin this week, but Drinking Solo always manages to make loneliness and heartache relatable and funny, and enjoyable to watch. The three best friends nursing each other’s wounds was especially endearing, and it made puppy Gong Myung’s hurt a little easier to take.
Jealousy Incarnate: This is the most entertaining part of my drama-watching week right now, watching Jo Jung-seok flail wildly and inappropriately and pitifully for Gong Hyo-jin’s love. I’m such a fan of this denial stage where the heroine is going down the list and rationally putting all the pros in one guy’s column and all the cons in the other, while all her actions squarely contradict her logic at every turn.
On the Way to the Airport: You know, I thought I had a hard time understanding Kim Haneul’s character (I get her affair, I just don’t get her wanting to stay married in her suffocating life), but THEN, Choi Yeo-jin went and got mad at Kim Haneul for having an affair! When she’s having one herself! I KNOW. WTF indeed.
Shopping King Louis: Is it bad that I don’t want the hero to get his memory back? I just love amnesiac Louis’s devoted puppy antics, and I know that his love won’t change, but one of my favorite things is that Bok-shil is his entire world, and I don’t want him to lose that. I would want any other drama character to grow up, but Louis’s appeal is that he’s Peter Pan, and I find myself hoping that he’ll never change.
Society Game: I’m a huge fan of strategy game variety shows like The Genius and Crime Scene, and there’s a new show by the producers of The Genius called Society Game, and it just premiered this past week on tvN. It’s like The Genius-meets-Survivor, where they lock a group of people in a remote location for two weeks and make them play strategy games for their survival. Mostly it’s like a messed up social experiment, and after one episode I’m already addicted.
Currently recapping: Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo
The K2: How is Anna’s secret still considered a secret when literally everyone knows? People are even taking pictures with her outside her home. How long do the people keeping her locked up think it’ll take before netizens put two and two together? Why do we keep focusing on characters who aren’t compelling? Does Anna have a story? Is Je-ha going to solely be defined by Heroic Backstory #37b, Dead Girlfriend Edition? The plot is thin beer here, so here’s hoping things improve.
Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Happy ending! But history! But happiness! But… history! But… Park Bo-gum! So conflicted, but otherwise pleased.
1% of Anything: Still a fun and funny way to pass the time. I’m all for dramas with shorter episode runtimes.
Shopping King Louis: Squeeeeeeeeeee! That. Red Carpet. Scene. Is. Everything!!! Gotta enjoy the beyond adorable romance between Louis and Bok-shil as much as I can before pain, heartbreak, and separation turn up next week…boo.
Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo: Did anyone else totally get a King and the Clown deja vu moment when Lee Jun-ki started making shadow puppets with IU or was that just me? Also, I completely agree with HeadsNo2’s sentiments about the mad = bad kings trope being overused in this show. Perhaps if they had made the series longer, like the original Bu Bu Jing Xin, they would have had time to explore subtleties more?
1% of Anything: This is a weirdly nostalgic drama. By recent 2016 standards, using a critical objective eye, I’d say it’s nothing really out of the ordinary. But because it is a remake of a drama that I watched in my formative drama-loving years, I like the old school feel and its faithfulness to the original story. I wish they had incorporated Dada’s family’s strict conservative rules though; in the original, that made for a more heartfelt drama with greater potential for comedy.
Currently recapping: 1% of Anything
Woman with a Suitcase: I was late to start this so I’m a little behind, but I’m loving the chemistry between the leads and Choi Ji-woo’s adorable, hilarious character. I like that she’s a strong and not necessarily saintly woman who’s met her match in Hamburger. And of course Lee Joon is just the most adorable earnest puppy in this. My only gripe is the treatment of the rape case, which was extremely problematic. I’m willing to suspend disbelief on the legal aspects because I love the character interactions so much, Show, but you need to stay away from any cases dealing with sexual assault, because you obviously can’t handle them.
Oh Hae-young Again: I sometimes do this weird thing in the middle of a currently airing show that I’m really enjoying—I stop watching when the show is at its highest point, often right after the OTP gets together and before the inevitable angst hits. I think it’s a subconscious bid to avoid being disappointed, as I have so many times before, by a lackluster second half and/or an ending that betrays the whole show. I absolutely loved the first half of this show, so this past week I made myself go back and finish it up. It’s as wonderful as I remembered, and although the pacing suffered a little from the extension, all the characters remained flawed and hilarious and lovable to the end, with satisfying arcs and a resolution that left me with the warm fuzzies. (And how cute were Noona and Jin-sang? I may even love them more than our main couple.) The biggest strength of this show was always that its characters felt so real and their emotions so immediate that I understood them even when I shook my head at their bad decisions, and it left me with a feeling that this wonderful warm group of family and friends are still out there, living their lives, dancing and laughing on.
Three Meals a Day Season 3: Speaking of Oppa: I’m generally pretty low-key with my fangirling, and you won’t really catch me swooning over actors, although I can appreciate them just fine—except for Eric. That man’s charming, talented, beautiful self just kills me dead. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m watching this show for Oppa, but everyone is so great in it. I’d forgotten how deft and biting Na PD’s directorial touch is, and how hilarious his interplay with Seojinnie. I’m only on the first episode, but I’m enjoying the heck out of this one.
Kpop Star Season 5: I love this audition program to an unreasonable degree. I’ve watched every season, and even though I know there is emotional manipulation and purposeful editing going on, it never fails to bring me to tears and laughter anyway. I love seeing a new side to the judges, who normally come across as these inscrutable industry powerhouses, but here are just musical producers trying to encourage and advise new artists. I also enjoy the hilarious interplay between the three men; I will never get tired of Yoo Hee-yeol mocking JYP for his moaning and head-bobbing. I started this season when it was airing last winter but got busy, and I’ve been catching up and enjoying it immensely. Lots of talented young dreamers as always, but I’m rooting for Ahn Ye-eun, who is a unique and immensely talented singer-songwriter, and win or lose, should have an incredible career in front of her.
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (October 15, 2016)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (October 8, 2016)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (October 1, 2016)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (September 23, 2016)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (September 17, 2016)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (September 11, 2016)