73

[Dramaland Catnip] Enemies turned lovers


Secret Garden

Enemies to lovers is pretty strong catnip for me: It can present itself in so many different forms, yet the common thread is that question of how these two people who loathe, detest, and despise each other will somehow find a way not only to resolve their differences, but discover in the process that they’ve fallen head over heels for each other. It’s vital for there to be some force keeping them together so that they continually bump into each other against their will, leading to a lot of combative hijinks, which becomes slow acceptance, and eventually romance. This formula is pretty standard, but it comes in so many delicious flavors that I never tire of it.

A common way for the enemies-to-lovers theme to manifest is when the couple, for whatever reason, just take a disliking to each other and proceed to spend most of the drama sniping, bickering, and nitpicking each other to death. A great example of this is Secret Garden, whose couple-to-be meet because of a miscommunication and wind up inextricably linked by a mysterious fairy godparent. They deeply dislike each other on sight, one an incorrigible snob and the other offended at being considered too lowly to be noticed. But when they are literally forced to walk a mile in each other’s shoes (not to mention boxers and bras), they have to find a way to work together to untangle their curse, and find a pretty epic love along the way.


Arang and the Magistrate

Sometimes a couple dislike each other simply because of the fact that they’re obliged to spend time together, when they really would rather just not. And it’s not necessary for both halves of the pair to hate each other — sometimes seeing just one of them being tortured while the other is hilariously and blissfully unaware gives the conflict an added dose of humor. In both Arang and the Magistrate and Bring it On, Ghost, a living person who hates their ability to see ghosts finds themselves saddled with a ghost that just won’t leave them alone.

The ghosts need the living person to help them solve the mystery of their death so that they can move on, but since the living one refuses to even acknowledge their existence, the ghosts find themselves doing more and more desperate things to catch their attention. Inevitably, the living find their annoyance turning to affection, and eventually love. These two dramas have similar premises but wildly varying executions, and their endings couldn’t possibly be more different, making both well worth the watch.


The King 2 Hearts

One of my favorite ways to enjoy the enemies to lovers dynamic is when the main couple are on opposite sides of a conflict, whether political, social, or even metaphysical. In The King 2 Hearts, the spoiled brat prince of an alternate-reality South Korea is pressured into a political marriage to a North Korean soldier, which goes about as well as you’d expect. When she proves to be a better soldier and humiliates him in front of his entire country, the prince cooks up a revenge plan to make his fiancée fall in love with him, spend their whole lives making her think she loves him back, then tell her on their deathbeds that he never loved her at all. Not only is it the most childish revenge plan ever, but it backfires spectacularly when he accidentally falls in love with her. The prince spends several episodes begging for any scrap of affection his princess deigns to dole out, and the payoff when she eventually forgives him is more than worth all the angst they go through to get there.

Another excellent example of this type of love story is Orange Marmalade, the story of a teenage vampire who falls for a human boy, but his extreme prejudice against those of her kind stalls out their budding love when he discovers her true nature. And in Heartless City, a young woman enters the criminal underworld intending to complete her undercover investigator sister’s assignment. Unfortunately, she finds herself falling for the very man she suspects is responsible for her sister’s death. These two are true enemies in every sense of the word, which just makes their romance that much more tragic.


Discovery of Romance

Discovery of Romance is the story of a couple who hate each other because they were once in love. That love died in a very painful way, leaving them both wounded and heartsick. When they meet again years later, they spend a lot of time hurting each other all over again before realizing that they only hate each other because they’re still in love. Their journey back to each other is so satisfying because both of them have spent years solely blaming the other for their breakup, and they have to face the fact that they were both at fault, giving the audience some wonderfully painful healing moments. In a similar vein, Sly and Single Again and Emergency Couple both feature main couples who were once married and are now divorced, who must dissect the reasons that their marriages crumbled before they can hope to rekindle their romances.

But my very favorite way to enjoy my catnip is a sort of blend between the enemies-to-lovers trope and the “let’s put on a show” setup. There’s something about watching performers who hate each other on sight because they’re jealous of the other’s abilities, especially when you know that that jealousy is actually admiration and the very reason they’ll fall for each other.

I could list so many examples, but some of my favorites are from my earliest days of my drama addiction, such as the one that started it, You’re Beautiful. When a boy band is forced to bring in a new member to make up for its lead singer’s vocal problems, the leader twists himself into knots over his jealousy at being supplanted by a stronger musical talent. Eventually he realizes that his rival is actually a girl in boy’s clothing, and his jealousy quickly turns to protectiveness, then love.


You’ve Fallen For Me

In You’ve Fallen For Me, two students at a performing arts college dislike each other’s personality, but also their differing styles of expression — one of them is a rocker and the other a traditional musician. When they both agree to perform in the school’s anniversary concert, they find themselves spending more and more time together, and eventually fall in love.

And in Sassy Go Go, the leaders of two opposing school clubs are roped into forming a cheerleading squad (to pad the good students’ high school resumes) or risk having both of their clubs disbanded. The leaders start out loathing each other, but in the end, they each recognize a familiar loyalty to their friends in their enemy. This is one of my favorite enemies-to-lovers incarnations — when the loathing turns to admiration and genuine friendship before any romantic feelings kick in.

However it appears, the enemies-to-lovers catnip is irresistible, because who doesn’t enjoy watching two proud, oftentimes even arrogant, people laid low by their own emotions? It’s a classic trope because it’s flexible, it’s compelling, and it works. The schadenfreude we feel when we watch someone having to eat their words because of newly-discovered feelings for the person they swore they would never have anything to do with is downright wicked. We get to indulge in that feeling of I told you so! without guilt, and with the full knowledge that it’s okay, because in the end, love really does conquer all.


Sassy Go Go

 
RELATED POSTS

Tags:

73

Required fields are marked *

Oh @lollypip you must have read my heart! This trope is one of my ultimate catnips! <3

6
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

That's my ultimate catnip too!! The same couple who cant even stand the sight of each other falling in love!! If it's well executed, then there is no looking back. Even it isn't well executed, I will get sucked into it!

0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I especially love it when the reason why they can't stand each other seems insurmountable. As their affection subtly grows, they're forced to understand the other person and help each other grow in the process.
If this ticks a box I'd highly recommend my go-to fix, Beyond the Clouds/Full sun. Gets me every time!

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Loved secret garden for that very reason!

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

@lollypip Thank you for the write-up and thank you for your insight!! This was a really fun read =) For me, I would have to say that my favourite of this catnip would be "Secret" (a.k.a. "Secret Love"), starring Hwang Jung Eum and Ji Sung. Oh man, once they got over themselves and started to look at each other as simply human beings trying to look for the truth in the wrong that they've both been handed down by the same person (people), and finally came together as one, oh man-- biggest sigh of relief and moment of "FINALLY!!" ever hehe

6
5
reply

Required fields are marked *

Secret was such a great drama. I miss Hwang Jung-eum and hope she's resting up nicely and her and baby are healthy.

5
reply

Required fields are marked *

Actually this is the drama where I started thinking how much of enemies the leads should be, to start to believe whether they can be potential couple. The extent to which Ji sung harassed her made me wonder if it will make any sense making a couple out of these two. Especially the forced kiss!! Just hated it! But in the end, it all worked because of the raw portrayal by the leads and nuanced execution.

4
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I agree, the execution and writing was key

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Secret was one of the best dramas and I agree that the enemies-to-lovers execution was amazing. I didn't even know that they'll eventually fall in love! (I don't check the premise when I watched, the TV was always just on whenever the drama's airing.

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Agreed! Secret is one of my most favourite dramas. I loved how it kept me wondering: How on earth are these two people going to fall in love?
I prefer enemies to lovers to friends to lovers, because when they are enemies at the beginning, it makes the drama more interesting. (At least for me.)
Another great drama with this trope is Princess' Man. It was pretty intense as well.

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This trope is one of those that can go really bad too. The couple might hate each other so much it leaves the viewer wondering why they even need to be a couple when they can't stand each other and can leave the viewer absolutely skeeved when they end up together.

2
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Sassy Go Go <3 Such a heartfelt little drama. I loved how the relationship between Crinkles and Yeon-doo progressed. (The bromance was also everything).

6
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

I loved that it made so much sense because, for all their other differences, they had one major thing in common - their friends meant the world to them, and that's what brought them together in the first place.

and Crinkles/Grumptopus is one of my all-time favourite drama bromances.

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I find them hate each other in a true sense, Yeol seemed like he has always been fascinated by Yeon-Do and she was like a shy puppy whenever he intently kept staring at her, right from their 1st scene.

Was it only me who felt like that!!

1
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Not really, Yeol seemed amused by Yeon Do at first. I didn't think that Yeon Do cared much, but I thought that she found him pretty.

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Oh I just love this trope! I think this works so well in dramas because in order for the parties to really hate one another they have to spend so much time scrutinizing one another for fodder to pick on the other, but it always backfires because it leads to observing and understanding the enemy instead.

3
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Well I wouldn't call it my catnip, but my kryptonite. I LOVE this (let's be honest - overused) trope so much that it probably will be the death of me.
I blame you Pride and Prejudice!

12
18
reply

Required fields are marked *

Haha, seriously, how many iterations of Lizzy and Darcy we have seen in Dramaland?

Ms. Austen, you are the One True Cultivator of this literary catnips.

11
12
reply

Required fields are marked *

I wonder now we are seeing in Dramalnd the evolution of the hero from The taciturn Darcy to amiable Bingley? Have we gotten tired of the frustrating silence and misunderstanding and prefer one with emotional availability and verbally expressivity?

Wickam though will forever be the meddling second lead.

5
10
reply

Required fields are marked *

Sure Bingley is amiable, but not very appealing if you think about it. His friend and family could easily convince him to leave the girl he loves (?)/likes/ admires behind. He also wasn't the one, who decided to get her back, even though he missed her. It was again his friend, who gave him the push to return to her. I doubt any kdrama hero would be so weak willed and indecisive.
Our new heroes are maybe more like Henry Tilney (Northanger Abbey) sweet and goodnatured.
PS: Down with all the Wickhams in the world

7
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Oh, I love Henry Tilney. I think he was one my favorite heroes in my Victorian lit class. I'm partial to Knightly too, but he's more of a friends-to-lovers type. Bingley is a bit weak, but he's also not super well developed and clearly easily swayed. ( I just realized that he's a basically a less douchey version of Claudio from Much Ado About Nothing.)

6

Knightley >>>>>>>>>>>>>> Darcy, imho. I'd love it if kdramas were actually taking a break from modelling their heroes after Darcy and picked another Austen hero instead - Henry Tilney is a great choice, too.

I always thought Northanger Abbey was a bit silly but then I watched the 2007 Northanger Abbey (the one with Felicity Jones as Catherine) and was completely charmed by the story and characters, especially Catherine and Henry.

4

I love NA because it was meant to be silly (Austen was actively mocking Gothic tropes) and Tilney was such a modern hero in it. I think it helped that he was younger than either Darcy or Knightley as well.

I've started to prefer Knightley as I've gotten older now, too, because he's so good to Emma, who's a very frustrating character. I also just love modern adaptations of him. But I do still have a Darcy soft spot, but he definitely isn't as swoony to me as he once was.

3

Agreed, I do prefer Knightley now to. He might be from time to time a bit preachy, but he is always kind to everyone around them.
Henry Tilney is such a cute character and I really liked the 2007 movie version. It was a bit of a shame that the end was so rushed (as it was in the book).

2

Northanger Abbey is not one of my absolute favorite Austen works but Henry Tilney is great inspiration for male leads!

I wonder if any adaptation of Emma exists in Dramaland? The premise seems like a perfect set up for drama. Mr. Knightly already seems like a perfect oppa!

2
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm going to add Captain Wentworth in Persuasion as one of (and probably my) all time best Austen 1st male leads. The 2007 BBC mini-series w/ Sally Hawkins & Rupert Penry-Jones...♥♥♥

3

Right? I've always thought so too! I feel like a matchmaking, meddling female lead would be so refreshing. And of course Knightlely would be the perfect male lead. Even the side characters like Harriett and Mr. Woodhouse would be perfect drama characters.

1

Oh yes, Wentworth would also be a perfect drama male lead! He is accomplished, principled, but also Kdrama-style withholding during most of the story.

The 1995 film "Persuasion" is one of my favorite Austen adaptations of all time. The production is lovely and the acting is stellar.

2

But you can't make chaebol out of Wentworth. What would viewers do?

0

Omg YES. One of the greatest literary catnips. She was a master.

And can you ever have enough Lizzy & Darcy? ;)

4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Ahhh I thought of P&P also when I saw this article! They're really the best enemies to lovers in literature.

7
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Hahah! I just wrote that kdramas I like watching Pride and Prejudice over and over and over. i.e. The best!

5
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

It is the gold standard of enemies-to-lovers.

3
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

It is the gold standard and for me the gold standard in kdramas is MNIKSS and I see that show as falling into this category as well.

In Secret Garden, he always had the hots for her which made me see the story differently than them being total enemies.

3

Beatrice and Benedict in Much Ado about Nothing also spring to mind.

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

All the pics compliment the article so beautifully. I love how adorable Arang and the Magistrate look and it demonstrates their antagonistic dynamic succinctly!

1
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I love that drama, they had perfectly valid reasons to be antagonistic but the non-stop bickering even after they didn't dislike each other quite as much anymore, was hilarious.

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I submitted the exact same catnip lol I even spoke about King2Hearts as my ultimate example. This is pure catnip for me. There's just something about the "bickering like an old married couple" thing that sucks me in every time. No matter if the rest of the drama sucks, I will finish it just for the witty back and forth and the denial. Oh the denial <3

2
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I like how it adds more stages of development to the romantic flow chart.

Hate eachother -> Get over hate -> recognise eachother's charms -> Fall in love -> Get together.

4
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Awesome said 👏🏼And if they fall head over heels I am dead! Like to the point of being ready to sacrifice themselves, like in secret garden. Though I am not a fan of heirs, Dots or anything KES, I think it's because this is my catnip I like SG so much!

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

If the hate -> love journey is well done, there's usually a diminished role for interfering second leads. They tend to be more supportive and help the leads overcome the hate.

3
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

That's the thing, if the flow chart has to focus on the main characters over coming their hate, there isn't room for meddling second leads and I appreciate that.

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

How come I didn't think of that! And it is such a simple truth.

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This is my catnip too! Now i know why I enjoy my sassy girl :)

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

i never thought that reunited lovers can also be enemies turned lovers! i forgot the fact that in the first place, they must have hated each other so much to decide to break up & separate, hence the reconciliation after that. so it's like hatred to love too. that's cool!

i really like the ghost vs living person examples, i watched both the sageuk & modern versions & i love them all!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Show: Two leads fighting and saying how they hate each other

Me: 👌👀👌👀👌👀👌👀👌👀 good shit go౦ԁ sHit👌 thats ✔ some good👌👌shit right👌👌there👌👌👌 right✔there ✔✔if i do ƽaү so my self 💯 i say so 💯 thats what im talking about right there right there (chorus: ʳᶦᵍʰᵗ ᵗʰᵉʳᵉ) mMMMMᎷМ💯 👌👌 👌НO0ОଠOOOOOОଠଠOoooᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒ👌 👌👌 👌 💯 👌 👀 👀 👀 👌👌Good shit

It's such a good trope that never gets old

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Comment was deleted

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

These enemy to lover dramas are great and I love how these couples who once couldn't stand to be next to each other finally fall in a deeper romance than they both expected. Sassy Go Go and Emergency Couple were two of my favorites, but I'm still working through this list since I didn't see all of them yet. Any other recommendations for enemy to lover dramas?

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Comment was deleted

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

The absolute best is when they loathe each other, but then still find themselves attracted to each other and have to fight that. The best!!

Friends to lovers is probably my biggest catnip & I never get tired of it. Especially when he falls first & she's somewhat oblivious (Sam Soon. Rewatching this, I think he was actually into her from the very beginning).

You're Beautiful was my first Kdrama. I had NO idea what I was watching. I seriously thought it was a Korean kid's show, and had put it on for my daughter because she's learning Korean (I was/am too). By the time I realized it wasn't, my daughter was bored and went into the next room, and I was completely hooked.

Kdramas are like watching Pride & Prejudice over and over again.

1
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Ugh. I meant to write "enemies to lovers" not "friends to lovers." Although I have to admit I love that too.

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Hehe, a girl after my own heart LollyPip! This is the ultimate opponents-turned-allies catnip for me in youth dramas (and in sageuks, where it could end badly...) but for some reason I don't usually do well if it's about adults who've gone through a painful break-up. It really depends on the story. Example: I liked Cunning Single Lady but Emergency Couple bored me.

Yeah, someone said it already, but we can blame Jane Austen! (By the way, my friends and I have a running joke where we retell parts of P&P from Darcy's point of view... turns out he's a real introverted dork).

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

For me, it depends if they cross that line, especially in the case where one is such a bully, I end up hating them for the rest of the show. I have a friend who was mad at the guy in Gumiho for leaving her on the boat and making her cry. I forgave the guy though.

0
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Then again, I guess that wasn't really a enemies to friends situation. 😂

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I stopped watching after he left her on the boat.

Um, he's not hot enough to act like an asshole. Hyun Bin, I can (and have) forgive a lot.

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I love pride and prejudice (the novel) and beauty and the beast (my fav fairytale ). There is something about looking past the hard exterior to see the soft interior. ..😉 so yea, my fav catnip. I love to watch a drama and can't wait for the frenemies to fall in love.

2
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

What I love most about this catnip when it's done right is the epic bickering. Bonus, if the actors are really good and have great comedic timing. The back and forth quips at rapid fire pace make me so happy and make for really funny moments. I also like it when that aspect of their relationship doesn't change even when the start falling for each other. They can still go toe-to-toe verbally and that's always great.

3
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

You just reminded me of the bickering between the leads of You from Another Star - with JJN's character unashamedly butchering her language to the exasperation of KSN's character.

0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I still need to watch that drama! I'm so late. But if they have that type of dynamic then that's, even more, an incentive for me to dive in!

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

You made me want to watch Arang and the Magistrate again!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Ack, just realized that there are a lot of catnips that I, too, love...
to the point that maybe I'll never be able to not watching K drama.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I enjoy this trope but Secret Garden did not work for me. From a girl's point of view, the main lead was scary.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Kyaaaaaa!!! This! This is my catnip!

Although I couldn't stand Discovery of Romance with it's wishy washy ways and LOVED Sassy Go Go with it's straightforward ways.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Finally! This is my ultimate catnip, the one that almost always draws me to watch a drama. I was planning to write this catnip, but I have been so swamped with new shows and work, been waiting for someone to post this catnip, so thank you @lollypip!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

OMG. I swear I just thinking/daydreaming about this whole enemies turned lovers thing this morning! I am literally so giddy right now!🙌

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you, LollyPip! I might have known it would be you who'd write up the kdrama catnip that makes me sit up fastest 😽! P&P, my most favoritest story "bones"; how easy it was to love kdrama with its myriad versions! For me, it's twuue woove ❤️

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I loved arang and the magistrate & bring it on ghost, because the female leads were so kickass & it was fun watching them tormenting the guys lol.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This is my catnip , so my catnip! Probably the earliest influence is from pride & prejudice (my favorite novel ever!) .
I actually submitted this topic as my dramaland catnip, though I didn't put it so nicely, I barely typed a few words Haha 😅😅😅

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I loved Sassy go go... One of the best!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Definitely my favorite trope as well. More than Friends to Lovers, I feel that Enemies to Lovers has a lot more passion, in dramas and in real life.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This is why I adored A Love to Kill with Rain. This drama hit me like a ton of bricks about four dramas into my drama watching obsession that started five years ago. It still ranks as one of the great love stories for me.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'll have to give this flavor of catnip a more thoughtful look with the next drama I watch. While I have a bunch of the listed dramas, I don't know if the bickering gets me as much as others.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yep yep yep you understand my hearts desire

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *