Why You Should Watch: Biscuit Teacher Star Candy
Since the universe decided to be cruel and leave us hanging with no new episode of Goblin today, it seemed like a good day to go digging around in the old drama vault for a Gong Yoo marathon. Because you can never have enough Gong Yoo in your drama-watching life, I say.
When we first launched this Why You Should Watch series to give everyone a chance to champion their favorite shows (and get us all addicted to them, of course!), Biscuit Teacher Star Candy was the first drama I thought of. It’s a sentimental favorite of mine from back in 2005, featuring an adorable Gong Yoo (The Lonely Shining Goblin, Big) as a high school bad boy and Gong Hyo-jin (Jealousy Incarnate, The Producers) as his scrappy teacher. It’s one of those dramas I’ve loved for eons but never got to talk about with other people, because for some inexplicable reason, no one around me has seen it. What madness! So here’s my case for why you should watch Biscuit Teacher Star Candy and squee about it with me. Because no one likes to be a fan club of one!
If you’ve ever seen Gong Hyo-jin or Gong Yoo in anything, the drama pretty much sells itself, since they’re now both established romantic comedy leads, and they were great together in this bickering noona romance early in their careers. (And for a fun treasure hunt, look out for: Lee Yoon-ji, Choi Yeo-jin, Jang Hee-jin, Go Jun-hee, Jung Kyeo-woon, Jung Eui-chul, Seo Joon-young, and Yoo Da-in when they were wee little rookies.)
The high school youth drama is like a light-hearted comic-book version of School 2013’s coming-of-age stories, but with romance at the center, and a flair for wacky hyperbole. For instance, the heroine was a legendary jjang (the best fighter) in high school, and she gets these impossibly acrobatic fight scenes in the drama, only to show us in the epilogues after each episode how the fights actually went down (flailing limbs, lucky coincidences). So not as badass as legend makes her seem.
The story is really about two rebellious teenagers, each legendary troublemakers at one high school, but in different times. The heroine, Na Bori (Gong Hyo-jin), was kicked out of school for single-handedly taking down an entire group of boys who attacked her classmate, and her story gets passed down among the students. She eventually gets her life together and becomes a teacher, and is determined to get hired at the school that once expelled her.
The hero, Park Tae-in (Gong Yoo), is the present-day troublemaker, a popular boy with a quick temper and a colorful past. He has an abusive father who left his mother and started a new family, and regularly sends Tae-in abroad or locks him up in hospitals or beats him. It’s no wonder that he’s so angry and bristly and terrified of being abandoned by everyone.
The show’s title comes from the heroine’s name, Bori, which means “barley”—the students take to calling her Biscuit Teacher because barley biscuits are a common snack. And traditionally, barley biscuits are packaged with little star candies inside, so they come in a set—two things that go together, like peanut butter and jelly. So of course, star candy refers to Tae-in.
At first Bori fails to get hired as a teacher at her old high school, but when she gets caught up in an incident with Tae-in outside of school, she gets an offer from his stepmother, the director of the school board, to become Tae-in’s watchdog and keep him out of trouble. She clearly doesn’t know what she’s getting herself into, but Bori takes the job as a temp and isn’t allowed to teach any subjects, but becomes his homeroom teacher.
From the start it’s a disaster, as Tae-in is basically the star of the school and a rude little punk who makes her life hell from Day 1. After suffering his pranks, she decides to take a different approach to survive at this job, and tries to befriend him. At first he finds her annoying, but then as Bori starts to get invested in her students’ lives, running out day or night to save them from this or that scrape outside of school, Tae-in begins to see that she’s different from every other adult in his life—she’s sincere and just like them, and she genuinely cares about all of their problems.
She’s the first person to ever make him feel like he’s not a big failure and not wanted, who doesn’t give up on him no matter what he does. So naturally he falls completely head over heels in love with her, and starts declaring it very loudly like a lovesick fool. It’s one of the main reasons I adore this drama.
She just thinks it’s cute puppy love, and that everyone has a crush on a teacher during their school days—in fact, the reason she wanted to be a teacher at this school was because of her high school crush, the art teacher who also happens to be Tae-in’s uncle (his stepmother’s brother, technically). She actually dates the art teacher, but he’s such an ineffectual second lead that you feel like his dull as dishwater character is designed entirely to showcase how much better Tae-in is. So even though Tae-in is always pining from afar and jealous of his uncle, you’re watching it going: Pfft, that guy? She’s so going to dump his ass.
What Bori doesn’t realize, of course, is that she’s already leaning on Tae-in and confiding in him more than anyone else in her life—more than the guy she’s actually dating—and though Tae-in never in a million years thinks she’d ever love him back, he can’t help but always want to be by her side and get to love her on his own. He’s just utterly devoted to his one-sided love, which is, of course, why it totally slays me.
I couldn’t find any good clips out there for this show, so I had to make my own. Unfortunately that means they’re not subbed, but I’ll give you the setup and the important dialogue for each:
It’s Bori’s first day as a teacher, and when she’s greeted with cheers, she thinks to herself: “That’s right, kids! Bori is here! I’m going to become a really impressive teacher!” Cue: Tae-in, the real reason for all the cheering. He recognizes her from outside of school and scoffs, “You’re… a teacher?” She takes issue with his condescending attitude and starts to lecture him…
Didn’t I say he was a punk?
Bori and Tae-in accidentally get locked in a hospital storage room together (why do drama storage rooms always lock from the outside?), and while she’s screaming for someone to save them, he realizes he’d rather not be rescued, and quietly turns off his phone. She finally calms down and thinks to look for her cell phone, which she left behind in the hospital room, and asks for his.
Tae-in: “Aigoo, the battery’s out. Oh no. It’s been dying so quickly these days.” She asks what they’re supposed to do, looking so upset, while he looks so happy. He can barely hide his smile as he says, “What can we do? We’ll just… have to stay here… till morning…”
Later that night in the hospital storage room, Bori wakes up when she hears Tae-in crying from a nightmare. Bori: “Why are you crying? Did you have a dream?” He tells her not to wait for his uncle to come around: “My mom waited her whole life for my father. He never came once. After she died, he came one time—to her funeral. Don’t wait around your whole life for someone who won’t come like she did, and throw me away. Don’t throw me away.”
At this point she doesn’t know that he likes her or why he’d say that, so she just treats him like a puppy like she always does. Bori: “Why would you worry about that? Why would I throw you away? I can’t live without you. I won’t ever throw you away. Don’t cry, okay?” Tae-in holds out his pinky: “Then promise. That you won’t throw me away.”
Tae-in realizes his feelings for Bori and runs to tell her: “Teacher! Teacher, I like you! Park Tae-in likes his teacher! Madly, crazily! Wait for me just one year… no, until I graduate! I’ll come find you and propose! I’m going to become a really impressive guy and propose to you! I! Love! Na Bori! I! Love! Na Bori! I! Love! Na Bori! I love her! I love her! I love her!”
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Can’t wait to discover all those new dramas!