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[Dramaland Catnip] The stinging embarrassment of thinking someone likes you… when they don’t


Answer Me 1988

Ah, the unbearable embarrassment of wrongly assuming that someone who is being extra nice to you, or staring at you a little longer than convention requires, MUST be nursing a huge crush on you.

You, being a sane and reasonable individual governed by good manners, either begin stressing over how you will turn down this person, whose feelings you do not reciprocate. Or because you care deeply about the welfare of others, must develop a way to graciously accept the other person’s feelings, entirely for their sake and definitely not your own.

When you learn of your mistake, the usual reaction is the overwhelming desire to crawl into the nearest hole and live out your days in darkness. Or to clench your fist and walk through the shame with your head held high, all while chanting to yourself the many ways in which you are still awesome.

There are other times when your reaction is an embarrassment felt so deeply, and mingled with a sense of indignation and hurt, that your first instinct is to lash out at that person for not feeling the same. Whatever your preference is, this setup is guaranteed to create a great deal of drama in the best ways.


Boys Before Flowers

I believe this awkwardness is a universal experience, so whenever I see this setup unfolding in dramas, I tend to get hooked. There are many versions of this type of interaction, but my favorite iteration is when the misguided party says something along the lines of: “You must forget me. I will only bring you heartache,” and response they get is, “Uh, what?”

A popular outcome of this mistake is full-blown, reciprocal romance, so any embarrassment felt is later justified by the happily ever after, but that isn’t always the case. For my part, I really like seeing how characters deal with and navigate their embarrassment, since there’s probably no one in the world who would act on the assumption that someone likes them, if they weren’t near certain about it.

Thus, when they’re wrong, whatever feeling rises to the surface is unexpected, and therefore untouched by the kinds of things we tend to tell ourselves about ourselves, and dress our exteriors with. More importantly, it can pave the way for significant self-examination and character growth down the road; or at the very least, a lot of giggles.


Man to Man

The most recent example I can think of occurred in Man to Man, after undercover super spy, Seol-woo, unwittingly misleads his colleague, Do-ha, into thinking that he has feelings for her. At the point where this specific exchange takes place, Seol-woo’s mission doesn’t involve romancing Do-ha (yet), but she jumps to the wrong conclusion anyway.

Seeking to spare him heartache, she dramatically explains to Seol-woo that she can never reciprocate his feelings because she’s committed to her favorite actor. He’s amused by her assumption, and tells her the equivalent of, “Yup, sounds great.” Then, after he thinks he’s finished with his mission and thus can cut ties with her, he says some pretty harsh words about never liking her, only to learn immediately afterwards that his new mission is to woo her.

He knows he just shot himself in the foot, so he goes to great lengths to try and undo the damage by acting all cute and suave, which totally freaks her out. Part of the fun is watching the person who did the rejecting claw their way back into the hurt party’s good graces, whether it’s because they’ve seen the error of their ways, or in this case, have a new mission. Therefore, sometimes the crueler the rejection, the better the groveling, which we all know is the best part.


Jealousy Incarnate

The hero in Jealousy Incarnate, Hwa-shin, understands this lesson probably better than anyone else. After brutally rejecting heroine Na-ri years earlier, they reunite, and though Na-ri has since moved on, Hwa-shin mistakenly thinks she can’t get over him.

This assumption is further fueled after Na-ri starts feeling up Hwa-shin’s pecs in the most inappropriate ways. He soon learns that he is in the early stages of breast cancer, and Na-ri’s fondling may have saved his life. It’s a humbling moment for Hwa-shin as he suddenly finds himself indebted to someone he’s written off for years, and though he tries to salvage his ego, it’s not that easy for him to do while wearing a bra.

I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to see Hwa-shin realize he likes Na-ri, and then quickly remember how much of an ass he was to her before. Good thing for him (and for us), Hwa-shin specializes in groveling, and his pathetic antics to convince Na-ri he’s being sincere about his feelings for her, were a real treat to witness.


Boys Before Flowers

Not everyone needs an almost kiss or borderline sexual assault to hastily conclude that someone likes them. Sometimes it only takes the thinnest of reasons, as evidenced by Jun-pyo in Boys Before Flowers. Jun-pyo’s erroneous belief that Jan-di likes him is practically a thing of legend. His self-delusions are so great that he decides that Jan-di telling him that she’s never kissed anyone before (which is a response to the rumor that she sleeps around), somehow translates in Jun-pyo’s brain to: “I want my first kiss to be with you.”

Jun-pyo quickly acts on his misunderstanding by imperiously agreeing to acknowledge her as his girlfriend outside of school. Jan-di thinks he’s been sniffing glue, and tries to teleport to a far and distant planet. She tells him as clearly as possible that she isn’t interested, however, Jun-pyo is still only 32% sure she means what she says. It takes learning about her crush on Ji-hoo for things to really sink in.

For him, his outrage is proportional to his great feelings for her, which he realizes after her total rejection of him. To me, this step pushes two totally unsuspecting characters somewhere right into the middle of a budding romance, and while Person A is pretty into it and thinks they were led there by Person B, Person B just keeps asking for directions on how to leave.

How they react to this sudden situation sets the trajectory for the rest of their romance. What I like about this, is that there’s a sense of advancing the romance quickly, even if it appears to go backwards, when say the characters end up hating each other because of this misunderstanding. Now the two are connected, and they can’t become strangers again because so much raw emotion has been exposed.


Flower Boy Ramyun Shop

If Boys Before Flowers had the haughty prince jump to conclusions prematurely, then it’s the Candy’s turn in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop. After finding out that her boyfriend is cheating on her, heroine Eun-bi impulsively asks hero Chi-soo to date her. She calls him “Oppa,” not realizing that while she’s twenty-five, he’s still in high school. Oh, and she’s his teacher. In other words, the perfect humiliation trifecta.

Witnessing her shame is all kinds of fun especially, because contrary to her assumption that Chi-soo is a Prince Charming-type, he’s actually a complete ass. He goes out of his way to humiliate Eun-bi for thinking he could ever like her, which all lays the groundwork for his eventual, and very satisfying, reversal.

While it seems like this setup is ripe for the arrogant hero to get cut down to size by the plucky heroine, it also can also make a young girl cautious with her heart. For Deok-sun in Answer Me 1988, her assumption that Sun-woo liked her began after her friends convinced her of it, and it becomes clear in her other romances that she would have never come to that conclusion on her own. Deok-sun falls in love with the idea and quickly gets swept up in her fantasies by projecting them all onto Sun-woo.


You From Another Star

After she learns that Sun-woo actually likes her older, more intelligent, tyrannical sister, Bo-ra, her reaction is to lash out angrily at Sun-woo, as her feelings of inadequacy floats to the surface. To Deok-sun, the question she asks Sun-woo is not, “Why not me?” but instead, “Why her?” This first, painful experience with love makes a lasting impression on Deok-sun and may be a big reason why her and Jung-hwan’s hesitant love never comes to fruition.

This setup works more comically with self-absorbed characters who have no reason to think someone wouldn’t fall desperately in love with them at first sight. Like Song-yi in You From Another Star, who pegs Min-joon as a pervert and can’t believe he has no idea who she is. But while many of these characters truly think they’re worthy of universal adoration, occasionally that’s only a facade and these feelings of embarrassment can be the one thing to break past the bravado.

Which leads me to perhaps my favorite usage of this premise: Cindy in The Producers. Cindy, a cold but lonely idol singer, falls for Seung-chan, a bumbling maknae PD who is as oblivious as he’s adorable. Initially, Cindy assumes that Seung-chan is trying to flirt with her, but really he only wants to make sure she returns the umbrella she borrowed.


The Producers

Their relationship is further entwined after Seung-chan recruits Cindy to appear on the variety show he works for. She continues to misinterpret the attention he gives her as an indication that he has feelings and even brags about being able to use him, and his position as a PD, in her favor because of those feelings. Soon the tables turn on her, and she begins to feel strongly for him mainly as a result of his puppy-like kindness and her severe loneliness. Then, in a moment of vulnerability, she kisses him.

Seung-chan is floored, having had no idea she liked him. And therefore, sensing that her kiss is not being well-received, she hurries to add that he can give his answer later, and cries alone in the bathroom. What impresses me most about Cindy’s reaction to her humiliation she that even after it’s clear that she’s been rejected, she tells Seung-chan that she won’t hide from him, and while she won’t interfere in his crush on another character, neither will she lie about her feelings for him.

In Cindy’s case she grows significantly from the experience and learns how to be vulnerable and let people into her life, even if it means they could hurt her or make her look foolish. Or *gasp* be an anti. When all is said and done, this trope isn’t really about the embarrassment itself; it’s about gaining an understanding of what a character’s relationship to their feelings of shame are. Some can rise above it, others falter a little, and others still find love in those moments of discomfort, whether it’s with another character or for one’s self. And for me, that’s my favorite part.


The Producers

 
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While I understand why many enjoy the trope, I absolutely do not. I suffer from pretty severe second hand embarrassment and I hate to watch this. I know it is stupid of me to feel that way, after all it has absolutely nothing to do with me, but I can't help it. Every time it happens I cringe so bad.

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Thanks for the thorough examination of this 'catnip' murasakimi.

I too personally do not care for this. I feel so bad for the poor misguided soul. Maybe along the way, I might laugh at the surprised party's antics of trying get back into the other's good books, but the embarrassed character's humiliation is not something that will draw me into watching the show.

So it's not catnip for me, but neither will it keep me away, I guess! 😉

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Secondhand embarrassment is real. It can be so bad that I literally cannot watch. So I understand your thoughts.

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Yeah, I have had to pause episodes when the secondhand embarassement hits me. But I usually come back to the show, because I know that those feelings are a sign of a drama that has the potential to stick to my heart. When good writing and acting align, I can relate to the characters and be embarrassed for them, which will stay with me long after the drama is over.

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I do this exact same thing. I suffer horribly from second hand embarrassment. Literally to the point that if I just sense something embarrassing is about to happen, I immediately hit the pause button and just leave it there. Sometimes I psych myself out so much, that the show will stay in that spot for days before I can force myself to back to it. It can take me hours to watch one show, based upon how many times I have to stop it.

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OMG, same! Finally someone gets me. Thank god, I'm not the only one.

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Me too! There needs to be a support group for this. This is where Drama Beans come in hand. When I can feel something cringe worthy coming up, I pause, come to DB and read through the recap of that scene. If I can't handle it then I will FF through the scene and if it's not so bad then I will watch it through my fingers. Either way reading it first helps diffuse the second hand embarrassment for me.

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Ditto. I love the other catnips covered so far, but secondhand embarrassment is a thoroughly unpleasant sensation I try to avoid as much as possible (usually by fast forwarding).

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Thank you ! I can't watch most of tv series with people coz of that. I want to stop to prepare my hear for what's gonna happen or fast forward.... can't count how many times i had fights with my ex due to that.
When I was watching sth with my family i would start taking stuff to kitchen or go to toilet ^^ they are still making fun of me. I remember I couldn't watch first 4 eps of princess prosecutor coz I couldn't handle what she was doing.
Nice to know that there are more people like that out there

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The fast forward button is key when the second hand embarassment gets too much. I'm glad I'm not the only one who does that!

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Oh my god, I am the same. Second hand embarrassment. When I see something really embarrassing on TV I am almost hiding behind a pillow on my seat. So no, this isn't my catnip at all.

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Oh good, I'm not the only one hiding. My family makes fun of me for this. So when I watch movies with them and I sense a scene like this coming I "suddenly" have to got to the toilet or get food or something.

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This! I start squirming around, stand up, sit down. You see, you really are not alone.

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Oh, me too! Second hand embarrassment is so HARD to overcome! T___T

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I'm so glad. I think I found my kind of people here XD

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I was actually going to write this exact thing. I don't like this trope, especially if people do very embarrassing things with the assumption the other person does like them. I also suffer from second hand embarrassment so I cringe when this happens in dramas.

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Hear hear!
Second hand embarrassments ...zee worst. In Man to Man when SW rejected Doha so harshly saying he was never interested in her, I wanted to bundle her up and hide her somewhere. And maybe punch his perfect face a little.
I'm practically cringing at the second hand embarrassment from this trope.

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Yea definitely not a big fan of this as a catnip either. It's probably because I suffer from second-hand embarrassment as well (to the point where I have to pause, gather myself, and then watch the scene while half covering my eyes) and so I can't see how anyone could find this as their pull-in. But hey, to each their own!

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I find the cringe good, because if it happened to me in real life I'd probably dig a hole and hide in it forever haha

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Me too. Its just too frustrating and feels like forced love

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Yes! There's a German word for that! If I could remember what it was I'd tell ya. But basically it's the feeling of being embarrassed by some behaviour because you can for see the outcome of their embarrassment. If you watch American shows that the first season of parks and rec or the office. Both those super hard to endure because if the embarrassing behaviour.

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Its called Fremdschämen.

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There are some German words, you just can't find in any other language. Ich neige extrem zum fremdschämen.

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Yep this is definitely not my catnip. I am one of those people that can not handle second hand embarrassment so that means I have not watched classic rom coms because of it XD

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First to comment 😆😆

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Ahh sorry turned out the second 😑😑

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Oh My god. This. I cannot tel you how much I cringe in my heart in such situations, maybe because I've been in such positions more times than I would like to disclose. But it's so so embarrasing and heartbreaking at the same time..and the happiness on reciprocation! These can definitely make watching a drama worthwhile...However, sometimes, the road goes the other way...and there hits the massive second lead syndrome

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I agree- I LOVED Cindy in Producers and so badly wanted Seung Chan to like her back!

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it is a trope that leaves me completely indifferent. I don´t feel second-hand embarrassment.

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I like it for a bit, but not if it's dragged out. It was perfect in BOF. Hehe that screencap of Gu Jun Pyo in the swimming pool plotting rubber-duckie pranks. Legendary indeed.

I haven't yet watched The Producers so I skipped over the last bit to avoid spoilers. Thanks murasakimi for this :)

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Wow, I didn't recognize this as a trope! It's not my catnip but I really enjoy it because I live in hope that things will work out for the HEA, as they NEVER do IRL 😜. These examples are just killer, what fun to revisit them all, thanks!

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I know Cindy will be on this list, but Baek Seung-chan also had a one-way crush towards Ye-jin (Gong Hyo-jin). He also misinterpreted some actions of his sunbae whenever Ye-jin admires him like a puppy. :)

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When I saw the tagline, I thought, meh, that's just cringe-y. Then as you went through the line of dramas I realized how much I do like this trope, as it usually does allow for significant growth for the characters (Cindy in Producers, Deok Sun in Reply 1988).

It reminds me of my favorite Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night, where my favorite couple get together not because they fall in love with the other person, but because their friends convince each separately that the other one is in love with them. And then hilarity ensues as they reinterpret all the other's actions in light of one sided love, and magnanimously decide to help them from their misery by reciprocating.

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I love Twelfth Night too! I've always thought it would be super fun to make a drama based off of it too -- can you just imagine, set in a newsroom or a restaurant? Now I'm starting to fantasy cast this in my brain...

But I agree that it's a really apt example of how this trope can work really well in the right circumstances. I agree that it's a cringe-y trope, but you're right, it does lead to a lot of character growth. It teaches them a sort of empathy that can only be learned by the experience of rejection and embarrassment.

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Ah! I need to know this fantasy cast ~ main question, who for Benedict and Beatrice?

how about its setting is a group of twenty something's where the guys (Claudio and Benedict) have just come back from the army? Claudio suddenly finds himself attracted to high school friend Hero, while his new best friend Benedict gets into an antagonistic relationship with Beatrice, whom he knew in college but turns out to be Hero's cousin.

(In this casting, Benedict went to the army a bit later because of career stuff, so Beatrice and him are farther into their twenties than Hero and Claudio)

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There is a beautiful little youtube series from some very talented New Zealenders. It is called Nothing much to do, by the candlewasters. It retells Shakespears Much Ado About Nothing in a very cute and funny modern take. I think you would enjoy it.

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Also I think you confused Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing.
MAAN is about Beatrice and Benedict.
Twelfth Night is about Viola disguising herself as her twin Sebastian, who is courting Countess Olivia and falls for Duke Orsino.

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Shoot, you're right! 😅 They are my two favorite Shakespeare plays, and I can't keep their names straight... 😫😩 #literaturefail

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Thanks for the recommendation nelly! I've really loved some of the YouTube versions of classics (Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Emma Approved, etc), so it's just up my alley. 😊

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I ADORE NMTD. Was a little dissappointed in Lovely Little Losers though...

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@hotcocoagirl if you liked LBD and Emma Approved I guarantee you, you will also adore Nothing much to do.

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@snarkyjellyfish I LOVED NMTD, but also wasn't that crazy about LLL. I kept watching because I wanted Pedro/Peter to finally get with Balthazar. It had its cute moments though.

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@hotcocoagirl I also recommend Autobiography of Jane Eyre and From Mansfield with Love if you like literary web adaptations.

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@nelly did you see Bright Summer Nights? I haven't yet, but am thinking I'll binge it this weekend now.

Also, highly recommend anything by Shipwrecked Comedy, but especially the Poe stuff.

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Man, y'all are giving me so many good recommendations! I kind of got out of the literary web adaptations, because I watched a few not so good ones, and Pemberley Digital just never made anything to the same standard as Emma Approved and LBD. But I'm excited to jump in again!

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@snarkyjellyfish let's be friends XD
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE everything by shipwrecked comedy. So exited for the new kickstarter: The case of the gilded lily.
And yes to all the other recommendations :)
Haven't seen Bright Summer Nights either yet. Don't know, it wasn't speaking to me.

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@nelly I am so psyched for Gilded Lily! I definitely contributed to the Poe Party kickstarter because I love it so much. A Tell Tale Vlog is my quick hit if I need some perking up.

I feel like I watched the first episode or two of BSN but it also didn't entice me, but I feel like I need to give it another shot.

I also enjoyed All's Fair Play from the AoJE people, Kalamatea, which was sort loosely based on Shakespearean tropes, if you haven't checked it out. There's also a great Three Musketeers adaptation called All For One which is fun.

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THIS is my definitely catnip, thank you for all your recomendations :)

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Ahh, you're right about confusing TN with MAAN (can I blame OP? Probably not, since I was a lit major...)

I could also see this as a University set drama with the older cast as professors and the younger ones as students.

But my fan casting is Gong Hyo-jin as Beatrice, and Jo Jung-seok as Benedict, and not just because of Jealousy Incarnate. I can't think of an actress who would pull off Beatrice's sass and sharp tongue better than GHJ and JJS can do pretty much anything justice. I could also see Seo Hyun-Jin as Beatrice and Ji Sung as Benedict.

Hero and Claudio are a little trickier but I could see Go Ah-sung, IU, or Eunji doing Hero justice. For Claudio I keep seeing Ji Soo for some reason in my head now, though I think Gong Myung could also work. Yeon Jung-hoon for Don Jon.

Ahhh have to run now but many more thoughts to come I'm sure.

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You can blame OP, I'll take it since I was a history major, and should've known better...

I love Gong Hyo Jin as Beatrice!! I would love to see her with Ji Sung actually (mainly because I want to see him as Benedict, but Jo Jung Seok is always awesome and has great chemistry with GHJ).

I like IU or Eunji for Hero, but what about Park So Dam? I think she would combine spunk (pranking Beatrice and Benedict) and naivety (first puppy love that too quickly becomes serious) really well. Of the two you suggested, I think Ji Soo would be best. However, I'dd like to suggest Yeo Jin Goo for Claudio as well, as he can act like nobody's business, and Claudio needs that because there are parts of the play where he acts like a complete jerk, and parts where he acts like the hero, and we need a guy who can show us that without us hating him (I kind of dislike Claudio personally).

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@hotcocoagirl

Ohh, I knew I was missing someone on my potential Hero list -- Park So Dam would be good, and maybe even Kim Go Eun? KGE just disappears into her roles in a beautiful way, for all I still can't finish Goblin. I feel like the instinct with Hero would to go with Kim So Hyun or Kim Yoo Jung, but I want a hero who is a bit older and less predictable.

I too have issues with Claudio, and I thought of Yeo Jin Goo for him, but part of me wants to keep him away from roles where he's too dark. (I blame Circle, because my working theory is that his character actually slightly evil and self-serving.) But he could totally be Claudio. ALSO, i just thought of this: Park Hyng Shik as Claudio. Actually, I think this may be my first choice for him now.

Also, alternate Don Jons: Shin Sung Rok, because obviously or Choi Won Young because he was great in I Remember You.

I may have overthought this whole thing...

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There's no such thing as overthinking this type of thing ;)

I'm not sure of Park Hyung Sik as Claudio, mainly because I don't picture Claudio as such a pure puppy, he's naive yes, but he has a whole lot of pride and self righteousness that leads to his downfall. I don't know if PHS can play that, but I've only seen him in Strong Woman where he was weird, awesome, and sensitive.

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@hotcocoagirl

I thought of PHS for Claudio because of his role in High Society where I think his character hit a lot of the same beats as Claudio emotionally, only in the opposite order (started out a bit of an ass, ended really sweet).

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Ah, I understand. Then he shall be top choice for Claudio ^_^

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Agree. It also reminds me of Pride and Prejudice, also North and South. If it's followed by character growth, this trope is great and not cringy. I think it depends on how it's written.

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omg, North and South! Thornton falling for Margaret first, then the mistake, then the angst... ahhh. Good stuff, and Richard Armitage was hot when he was brooding.

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Absolute yum!

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Total agreement about Richard Armitage ~ one of my favorite actors hehe

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How could I forget North and South? And Darcy's first proposal is the epitome of "wait you weren't flirting with me this whole time??!"

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I absolutely love North & South. But i never felt embarrassed at his first proposal.

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I actually did cringe the first time I watched it...

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This catnip is like Christmas. So many Shakespeare, Austen and Gaskell fans! I love it.

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Hehe, it made my soul so happy to see so many others who love Shakespeare, Gaskell, Austen AND Korean dramas!! I thought myself a rare breed...

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I agree, not cringy at all. Rather perfect.

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Thank you for such a well-written analysis of your catnip. The utter humiliation many heroines experience actually made it difficult for me to fully embrace Kdrama when I first started watching them. Now I have somewhat become a little bit more desensitized to them with an understanding that most of the time the embarrassing situations eventually lead to character growth for most (when they are not used for cheap laughs.) Your insights will certainly help me in the future to better deal with this second-hand embarrassment!

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For Dongman's ex in FMW:
The grating shamelessness of deluding yourself into assuming someone likes you… when they don't

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I also find second hand embarrassment painful and often pause the drama to calm my stress, especially when the character I identify with is being humililated. It is funny when an arrogant character like Jun pyo is suffering. We all want those types to get a little comeuppance as it seems to happen so rarely in real life.

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Yeah I guess it depends on the character when it's someone arrogant like Gu Jun Pyo I find it funny but when it was Duk Seon and Cindy I felt so bad for them.

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Yess it is definitely funnier when the character just deserves to suffer. Then I can watch because the second hand embarassment doesn't make me cringe =D

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Totally agree, I love it when it's the arrogant male lead who thinks that and then it's the catalyst for him liking our heroine first. Like in The Greatest Love, Dokko Jin was hilarious and then he FELL HARD.

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The embarrassment you feel when this happens is huge, but it's mortifying when someone else knows about your all on my own feelings especially if they encouraged you to continue them. If your feelings are reciprocated then you can flail with your friends, but if they aren't, oh the double embarrassment and feeling to crawl into a hole. In dramas, it's for our own amusement and enjoyment (even though second hand cringe is real), but in real life, oof...it might take you a while but all's good.

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by your descriptions (reminders for me), i realize that i do like these situations in romcoms...
; )

embarrassing, yes -- but not to the point of it being too uncomfortable to watch. i find humor in it, as we are fallable creatures and we often do misunderstand other's reactions/responses/gestures toward us. i suppose for younger people the reality of such situations is too raw?

being older (seasoned and aged, i speak only for myself!) helps one react to our human foibles as "endearing"...

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I don't often feel that someone likes me, I'm on the other end, where I don't know that someone likes me. So it's not something I can relate to, but on the other hand... Second embarrassment is something I feel, defiiinitelyyyy!

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YES! I am also not likely to make that mistake either, I've been told repeatedly that I'm too dense and oblivious. One time a guy friend I had known for over 10 years told me before his marriage that he'd once liked me so much, but that he gave up because I never reacted to his approaches. I was all like 0_0 for real? I thought you treated me like one of the guys all this time :P Then recently I've been told by my girl friends that I friendzone guys all the time, and I'm all like i don't friendzone them, I just don't feel like they like me more than friends so I don't even think about liking them any more than really great guy friends.
Second hand embarrassment is real though. I am a peek through fingers kind of girl when that happens, and if it's too intense then I jump up and go find stuff to do and let the situation run along and come back five minutes later to check if it's over jajaja.

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I don't enjoy this trope either. Sometimes is too painful to even watch. Especially when there is no chance that the person will like the other back.🙁🙁. That's why watching that scene from Man to Man was hard but the drama did a good job of making me forget about it the next moment when Agent K is told what his next mission is.😄😄

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I open this post trying to laugh a little bit from Db's sassy writting, but none can make me not depressed due to TOP's condition now. :(
DB and all beanies, please pray for him #staystrongtop

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When I saw the title, I was about to pass on reading this one (sorry, @murasakimi!) because I cannot for the life of me understand why this would be a catnip! Secondhand embarrassment is real for me, especially if it's super awkward and pitiful. (If it tickles my funny bone, I can be very forgiving. Haha!) But as I read the article, I realized what was actually the catnip you're talking about. It's not really the embarrassment but the growth of the character you're into, it's just that the embarrassment precludes the growth. Didn't really realize that! While not a catnip of mine, I do get it now why it is for some!

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Actually, I feel it is always satisfying if the jerk or as @murasakimi put it, the 'self-absorbed' girl/guy get this reality check, that 'no you're not that great'. For me, this was best displayed in BOF because that conversation in the pool table, GJP had with YJ and WB, with him cockily laughing and being so sure that Jan Di kicking him was somehow a love confession, was that moment when I was truly CATNIPPED into kdramaland.

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I think I only enjoy this trope sometimes. Other times...I think I feel too badly for the character. I think it just depends on how the drama decides to play it out. So its not always a catnip for me.

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Same I think it depends on the character, like I found in funny in BOF but in Reply 1988 and The Producers I felt so bad. In JI I had mixed feelings as sometimes I was annoyed the way he treated her yet other times I felt so bad for him.

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This trope is hilarious! I specially loved it in Faith where the heroine was so convinced that the time travelling general (played my Lee Min Ho) had a crush on her. Cue hilarious misunderstandings where the heroine was convinced that everything he did, he did with love as the ultimate motive! Of course her antics are part of what drives the hero to genuinely fall in love with her later on. So win win?

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Great example! I love how right before the heroine went back to her world she asked Choi Young if there was anything else he wanted to know about her, and he said , "No there's already too much." Best scene in the entire show. Kim Hee-sun's character cracked me up.

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What about song ji hyo character in the ex girlfriend club? That was really embarrassing! That was on another level, she thought she is one of the ex.

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Totally agree, and forgot about this one, I too was wondering why she wasn't included in the webtoon.

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"...while Person A is pretty into it and thinks they were led there by Person B, Person B just keeps asking for directions on how to leave."

This is when the hilarity starts in earnest for me.

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Burst out laughing at this too! Beautifully phrased, @murasakimi!

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This is a catnip for me only when it's the male lead who is like that, and comically so, because then I want to take him down his arrogance.

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Ahhhh Deok Sun and Jung Hwan I want to cry all over again. :***(

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I don't like this catnip, I don't exactly hate it but I find the embarrassing situations so awkward that I can't even watch it. Facing embarrassing situations in real life make me want to crawl into a rabbit's hole & go into permanent hibernation, or most likely wish that I'd evaporate on the spot. So I just can't bring myself to enjoy it on screen . I just sit there feeling sorry. In fact this embarrassment makes me so much uncomfortable that I even skip over it in recaps. >.<

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I don't often like this (I would die of cringe if such a thing was possible) but it was done well/hilariously in Legend of the Blue Sea. The delusional wannabe gf and Tae-ho...still cracks me up.

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That was my favourite! Had me in stitches even though their romance didn't quite convince me... Seemed like a consolation prize. Still really really cute!

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I tend to shy away from anything that induces embarrassment or cringe-y situation in dramas, example in case: cheating bf and bad breakup scene in Fight My Way and Best Hit. I can get why you'd love this catnip, Murasakimi, but I wouldn't want to see this on my screen too often.

I did, however, enjoy watching Do-ha's misunderstanding and subsequent rejection to Seol-woo, and the way Seol-woo indulged her misunderstanding. I thought it was sweet that he led her to believe he was nursing a crush on her instead of correcting her the first time. But I felt more gratified when the reversal came so quickly after he just clarified all misunderstanding, and then he had to eat his words and say cringe-y lines to hook her back, SO hilarious!

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This is no catnip for me. It's so embarrassing to watch and sometimes humiliating for the character, I would say it's the opposite of catnip.

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Of the shows included I only finished Reply 1988 and the Producers, but I really enjoyed reading this! You laugh at and cry with Deok Sun over her embarrassment and eventual hesitation to act on a suspected crush, but with Cindy you do see her grow from it, although I rooted for her and Seung Chan from the start. (I also thought if they kiss then they're the couple but I was wrong haha)

Personally I feel second hand embarrassment from watching these people make a fool of themselves but when it's done right (and when it's well deserved for the embarrassed party to finally grovel haha) it can be enjoyable!

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Not a catnip for me either but imo one of the best usage of this troupe was in Padam Padam. The hero is an ex-convict with nothing under his belt except a violent mother and a friend err... a guardian angel(?). So when a sweet and pretty doctor enters his life, he mistook her kindness as love so he confesses but then the girl (this is a bit sad and a jerk move imo), instead of telling him he got it all wrong, showed it through her action instead. She started getting chummy with her fiance in front of him (when in reality, their relationship is not good) & started showing off that she /is/ a doctor so you know, how dare an ex-convict dream of dating her. Which prompted the best (anger) reaction ever from the hero: "What should feel sorry for myself for liking you?! You should be the one apologizing to me because you can't accept my love! Apologize now!" I feel very sad for him then. Noh Hee-kyung's script is very good btw.

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*why not what

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Second hand embarrassment is real. I need assurance that the party who rejects will later eats his or her words badly to make up.

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The first drama that came to my mind while reading this catnip is Tomorrow with you.

In the beginning of eps, when heroine (forgot the character name) thinks the hero like her, because he follows her wherever and whenever. I feel bad for her.

And not long after, the hero said he is not into her, auch...
It hurts, but what hurts more is that embarrassment

I dont think this is my kind of catnip. It just hurts so bad.

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I agree that secondhand embarrassment is stressful and I sometimes have to take a pause. But this trope can be enjoyable if the person deserves a comeuppance. It makes me hurt too much when the embarrassment is on someone that's already pitiful. I do see the point about the character growth that emerges from it though, so I can see how that would be a draw.

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Hmm..I guess I didn't think in terms of real life situation about the embarrassment. Because in the drama I know that the two lead will end up together so it's kind of fun to watch and wait for the hero to have a reversal. So if I take into consideration that they will not end up together then yes I would cringe too. Especially for the second lead who are actually worthy of the hero/heroine love.

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Ah, the unbearable embarrassment of wrongly assuming that someone who is being extra nice to you, or staring at you a little longer than convention requires, MUST be nursing a huge crush on you. ... They aren't?

Ha, the worst is always when I don't feel the same, but boy do I mentally kick myself now for not at least building up the courage to make a move on all the times I thought a guy might've like-liked me and I like-liked him back.

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when done well, a trope can be a winning trophy.

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I did not watch the producers, even though I love Kim Soo Hyun and I like IU, but I read some of the recaps, and felt attracted by the change in Cindy... Maybe one day I would give this show a go...

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Rewatching Empress Ki and its hilarious how the Empress Tanshiri thinks the King of Koryo loves her. Everyone around her thinks otherwise but her misinterpretations are too funny. And surprisingly make her evil self-centred character more human.

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